A Different Kind of
Conversation: The Sparky
Awards and Fresh Views
on Change in Scholarly
Jennifer McLennan, Director of Communications, SPARC
ampus rivalries, we know, are not only about football. This year,
though, campuses may go head-to-head for the first time over
totally new: the number of students who speak out about
their right to research.
As campuses take up the call to syndicate the Sparky Awards (SPARC’s now-
annual student video contest), digital commons, libraries, and student groups are
coming up with creative ways to make the contest their own and bring more
students into the conversation on access to research. A southwestern library may
challenge their football rival to take up the Sparky Awards contest, and a
northeastern digital commons has already started a three-way partnership with
the university television station and the school of communications to support it.
The Sparky Awards is a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on
the value of sharing information, and aims to broaden the discussion of access to
scholarly research by inviting students to express their views creatively. The
student voice brings freshness and energy to this ongoing conversation,
highlighting that students are not only the stewards of new and social
technologies, but also that they have the potential to reshape scholarly
communication entirely—simply by holding fast to the sharing practices
now a part of their daily lives.
The 2007 grand prize winner, Habib Yazdi’s voiceless illustration of
Pac-Man–like figures growing bigger and stronger through sharing information,
is about as explicit and compelling a case as can be made.
JUNE 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC