Learn how the Making Research Accessible initiative is working with community organizations to ensure important materials like these are easy to find.November 21, 2023
Since the summer of 2022, the Making Research Accessible initiative (MRAi) has been working with Downtown Eastside organizations to preserve community materials in UBC’s open access repository, and linking to them through the DTES Research Access Portal.
This includes, for example, extensive oral accounts of the historic Woodward’s Squat (or “WoodSquat”) that happened 20 years ago, one of the most prominent acts of civil disobedience in the history of Vancouver and a harbinger of future housing protests. These materials in particular were made available by Woodward’s Amateur Historical Society (W.W.A.S.), 221A, and Recollective: Vancouver Independent Archives Week.
This supports both the long-term preservation of rich sources of community information—annual reports, strategic plans, oral histories, podcasts, zines, and even interactive maps—and promotes their use alongside conventional academic items. So far, the MRAi team has worked with 14 DTES organizations to identify materials and received valuable input on the metadata to describe these unique works. Metadata is information about items that helps online search engines determine what to display when people search.
Ensuring open access and links that won’t break
This helps span the gap between the scholarly record and what librarians call “grey literature”—important work that is often “posted” on a website but not “published” in a publication.
“I can’t underscore this enough,” said Aleha McCauley, Community Engagement Librarian at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC Library and member of the MRAi Steering Committee, “some people estimate that three quarters of the links on the Internet will stop working within 10 years. A number of the items we worked with were hosted in unstable online spaces and weren’t easy to find. Archiving these materials in UBC’s open access repository (called “cIRcle”) in preparation for inclusion in the DTES Research Access Portal ensures persistent access to these materials—these links won’t break—and are easier to find with the metadata we’ve added.”
- Find Woodward’s Squat materials (and other community and academic materials) in the Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal.
- This story was first published in the MRAi Foundational Report. To learn more about the project, download the report.
- Do you have materials you’d like preserved in UBC’s open access repository? Email email@example.com.
The Making Research Accessible initiative is a partnership between the UBC Learning Exchange and the UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. It’s goal is to increase the accessibility and impact of research, to increase the availability of DTES community materials (such as program reports, research and evaluation documents), and to create opportunities for sharing and learning between community organizations, community members, researchers, students, and others. The MRAi works in consultation with community members and organizations, and with input from the Simon Fraser University Library and the Vancouver Public Library, and a number of supporting groups at UBC.