We reported some weeks ago that Johanna Anderson had been nominated twice for a “inspiring colleague” award in the 2021 University of Gloucestershire staff excellence awards in recognition of her work on #ebooksos.

Johanna was delighted to learn today that she won the award. You can watch the moment it was announced in the above video.

It has been a tremendously difficult year for all in the #ebooksos team. We have had our own personal challenges to overcome during the pandemic, we have faced the challenges of continuing to do our jobs to a high standard while working from home and we have taken on the incredibly difficult task of holding big publishers to account. We have not even all met in person yet!

On news of the award, Johanna said “I pinch myself most days when I think of how much our grassroots campaign has grown. We harnessed the frustrations of the profession and library users both nationally and internationally and I believe we are on the cusp of bringing about real change. To raise the profile of the difficulties libraries face, to those outside of the profession, has been our most proudest achievement and that is why this award is such an honour. To have the University and colleagues recognise the work we have done makes all of those difficult days worthwhile. The battle is far from over but this award gives us pause to reflect on the work done so far and gives us a boost for carrying on. Caroline, Rachel and Ben from #ebooksos, this award is yours too. Huge thanks for your friendship, strength and wisdom. Heartfelt thank you to the colleagues who nominated me Your support makes the world of difference. I hope we can celebrate together in person one day soon”

Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign. There is still lots more to come and we hope you will continue on this journey towards fair access to information for all. Watch this space!! (and JiscMail)

The text of the two nominations read as follows


 Johanna is an outstanding librarian.  She works tirelessly to provide the best possible service to both students and staff.  In particular, I know that students (as well as staff!) greatly appreciate her good-humoured assistance and patience.  Johanna will always go above and beyond, and gives her time selflessly, to ensure that students are able to make the best use of the library facilities. All of which both improves the student experience and reflects extremely well on the university as a whole. 

If this were the extent of Johanna’s efforts then she would be a truly excellent librarian and colleague, but this is really just the bedrock.  Johanna has, for some time, been concerned at the price of e-books, the prices of which have risen to such an extent that many of them are now no longer affordable for libraries (UoG and elsewhere).  This has serious consequences for students, as many of them are unable to purchase their own text books, and so are wholly reliant on the library for access to material.  In terms of equity, it is crucial that such access is available and the substantial and, to all accounts unjustified, hike in e-book prices jeopardises this access. 

Johanna could have simply bemoaned this state of affairs and she would still be an excellent librarian.  Instead, she has demonstrated her outstanding commitment to the students and the university by launching a one-person campaign to do something about the price-hikes of e-books.   Starting with an open letter to the Government that has attracted nearly 4,000 signatures to date, the campaign has been driven tirelessly by Johanna and has received wide attention in the national press, and with the situation now being considered by the Competition and Marketing Authority.  The campaign has even prompted UCL to consider starting a collaborative, and open-access, press across the entire sector. The possibility of real change for the better. 

More recently, the campaign has gone international with Johanna invited to provide a keynote address at a conference in Canada.  This is a campaign that is (justifiably) holding to account some of the biggest academic publishing houses with the aim of improving the student experience, and that has received backing nationally and internationally.  And it is being led by the University of Gloucestershire. 

I’m not sure what the definition of an ‘inspiring colleague’ actually is, but to me, it’s hard to imagine anything more inspiring from a colleague. This is somebody that has gone way beyond their ‘day job’, putting in a huge amount of time and effort for no personal benefit, to make a real difference to the lives and prospects of students.  I find that inspiring, and I know my colleagues (and students) feel the same. 

and

Johanna always provides excellent and above and beyond support to students and colleagues.  She is approachable, helpful and a great colleague.  But this year her nationally profiled work around the exorbitant costs of e-books and the publisher price gouging has been brilliant and inspiring.  She has worked tirelessly to try and improve the opportunities for all UK students to be able to access increased literature (by making it more affordable).  She’s spoken at national events, had the story picked up by the national media and has prompts national investigations into the situation.  Johanna has been involved in this whilst maintaining her very high standard of work and with her usual self-depreciating humour.  I am inspired by her commitment to making positive change and think this is the sort of thing the University should celebrate more. 

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