Amanda Makula Advocates for Open Knowledge and Digital Librarianship

SLIS alum Amanda Makula is the Digital Initiatives Librarian at the University of San Diego (USD). One of her responsibilities is building awareness of and advocating for open knowledge. She’s currently in the process of delivering the "Open Access Campus Conversations," a discussion series for faculty across schools and departments of the university. Participants meet to discuss readings, ideas, and ask questions about the open access revolution and changes in the scholarly publishing system.

An ongoing digital initiative effort by Amanda and her colleagues has been the San Diego Lowrider Archival Project. The San Diego Lowrider Archival Project is a signature collection of the USD institutional repository documenting the history of lowriding in San Diego and the surrounding borderlands. She works closely with an Ethnic Studies faculty member, Dr. Alberto Pulido, and Rigo Reyes, a founding member and former president of Amigos Car Club. Together, Pulido and Reyes wrote San Diego Lowriders: A History of Cars and Cruising, which served as an inspiration for the digital collection.

Amanda is also looking ahead to 2020 when she will be coordinating the Digital Initiatives Symposium (DIS), an annual event that draws around 200 participants from colleges and universities, public libraries, special libraries, museums, and other cultural memory institutions. This is a day-and-a-half conference with workshops, lightning talks, keynote and featured speakers, and concurrent sessions, all addressing some aspect of digital librarianship and the scholarly communications ecosystem.

Professional leadership has been a priority in Amanda’s career and key to her work advocating for open knowledge. She’s currently the Chair of SCORE (Scholarly Communication & Open Resources in Education), an interest group in the California Academic & Research Libraries (CARL) organization. The group is planning a panel titled "When Doors Won't Open: Learning from our Failures in Open Access Advocacy" for the CARL conference. During ACRL 2019, she presented on the panel, "Working at the Intersections of Information Literacy and Scholarly Communication," alongside Merinda Kaye Hensley and Michelle Reed.

Part of Amanda’s advocacy for open knowledge is bridging borders and sharing information with those outside of the library profession.


“Sometimes it feels like librarians mostly talk to other librarians through their scholarly activity. We need that, of course, but it's also important to move beyond the profession and engage other audiences in our writing. And it's certainly a way for us to help dismantle stereotypes of the profession.”

The chapter Amanda wrote, "Reaching Readers: Open Access Journals, Institutional Repositories, and Social Media" in the book Pain-Free Writing for Nurses: A Step-by-Step Approach, is an example of her approach to information activism outside of the library community.

Amanda credits the SLIS program for a solid foundation in the principles of librarianship, cultivating intellectual curiosity and a desire for life-long learning, and focusing on a well-rounded education. Before her work at USD, she was a Research & Instruction Librarian for 12 years at Augustana College, a liberal arts school in Rock Island, Illinois, where she served under mentor and former library director Carla Tracy.