In a country where there are only 35 open access journals, Janet Lee is seeking to make access to academic articles much easier for the University of Aksum faculty and students.
By Jordan Kellerman (UD’s Morgridge College of Education) |
When Library Information Sciences (University of Denver) alumna Janet Lee (MLS, ’78) decided to apply for a Fulbright to return to Ethiopia, where she had spent her most recent sabbatical and previous time in the Peace Corps, she didn’t expect the process to move so quickly. But that it did, and within months of applying she was packing her bags (and lots of books, Chromebooks, and a server) for Axum, Ethiopia, a Denver Sister City, to spend 10 months engaging in research in open access publishing at the University of Aksum. In a country where there are only 35 open access journals, Lee is seeking to make access to academic articles much easier for University faculty and students.
She graciously made time to talk with us in June 2017, in the midst of the chaos of leaving.
Lee said at the time that she planned “…to explore avenues of scholarly publishing in Ethiopia that ensure that faculty are provided an opportunity to share their knowledge, perspectives and values and that students and colleagues have unfettered access to their collective scholarship.”
Her arrival in late August 2017 was met with a few hiccups, but eventually she arrived at what came to be her permanent residence in Axum, the Sabean Hotel. The hotel is within walking distance of her assignment at the Foundation Library and the staff is welcoming.
To her surprise, she passes Denver Street every day on her walk to the Foundation Library. Denver and Axum have been sister Cities for 21 years and this was one of the reasons Lee choose Axum as her Fulbright destination. With the help of some current Peace Corps volunteers and friendly residents, she learns the ropes and begins to study Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. Her greatest challenge is the Aksum University Library, which is under construction and will be moving to a new building in the next year. More than once the lack of technology has given her pause and caused her to question her assignment.
“The library is grossly underfunded and understaffed,” she writes in her blog. “The infrastructure campus-wide is very weak and the Internet has extremely low bandwidth. I celebrate the small things, such as being picked up by campus service every morning and not having to negotiate with a Bajaj [three-wheeled taxi] driver.”
Lee approaches her trials with positivity and an open heart. She truly loves Ethiopia, its culture, and the rich heritage of its people. She treasures building relationships and learning from her experiences, so even though she may experience a setback, she takes it as part of her journey.
“I am grateful to be living in Axum, where every day is a gift,” she writes.
Continue reading this story at Morgridge College of Education
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