Artists in post-dictatorship Chile took to the urban streets in the early 1990s, creating expansive murals and graffiti meant to be seen by as wide-reaching an audience as possible. Today, Guisela Latorre’s book about that street art is finding a wide-reaching audience, too, thanks to an “open access” version of her book funded by a University Libraries grant.
The grant is an open access publishing initiative for scholarly monographs called TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem). It advances wide dissemination of digital editions of humanities and humanistic social sciences monographs so they’re available at no cost to the broader public. The Ohio State University Libraries is participating in the initiative with other universities and university presses. The Ohio State University Libraries aims to award publishing grants of up to $15,000 to three Ohio State faculty members’ publications each year for five years.
"Essentially, with TOME, we’re creating openly available versions of these books that the public can freely use,” says Sandra Enimil, assistant professor and coordinator of the grant program. “As a library, we see this as an opportunity for engagement of scholarly books beyond what the typical audience would be. We’re interested in promoting open access and how content is made available, not only to the Ohio State community, but to the broader local community, and the even broader national and international community.”
Latorre’s book, Democracy on the Wall: Street Art of the Post-Dictatorship Era in Chile (2019, The Ohio State University Press), is the first book to be published by an Ohio State faculty member with TOME funding. “The spirit of TOME is to make researched materials available to larger populations. Access to the information is free to anyone and open to everyone,” Latorre says. “University Libraries understands the importance of opening up access of materials to a wider and more diverse audience.”
Her book reflects her fascination with street art in her native Chile, and seeks to “capture a moment after the dictatorship, when there was a great effervescence reflected in street art with the lifting of social controls. It coincided with the growing popularity of graffiti, hip hop, rap and urban culture, and offered a response to the social issues that persisted.”
The public murals transformed spaces in the cities, creating “open sky” museums. Latorre likens their accessibility to the open access of digital information today. “I can easily see the book being used outside of the university, outside of the academy,” she says. “It might be used by high school students, by other artists and activists, by people interested in using art as empowerment, by those interested in Chilean politics,” she says.
“Guisela’s book helps us see what the impact of a TOME grant could be,” adds Enimil. “She’s here at Ohio State, but open access makes her research available everywhere. There are many different ways to come into the conversation when materials are so widely available. We want to see how people will engage with this work.”
TOME grants are made to participating university presses to support publication of open access digital monographs. Currently, three additional open access books authored by Ohio State faculty are planned for publication in 2020 with TOME funding. Tenure-track Ohio State faculty members may apply for TOME funds upon acceptance of their peer-reviewed manuscript by a participating university press.