All posts by lorraine j haricombe

Open educational resources.

Message to States: Make OER a Priority

Lorraine Haricombe says states need to follow New York’s lead and advance OER initiatives.
Lorraine J. Haricombe, Vice Provost and Director, UT Libraries.
Lorraine J. Haricombe, Vice Provost and Director, UT Libraries.

Tucked away in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement to make tuition free to eligible students at two state university systems was additional important news – a budget of $8 million had been earmarked to promote and distribute open educational resources, or online education materials that are free to access and customize for students. The two university systems have been urged to use this money to focus on high-enrollment courses, with the goal of minimizing or eliminating textbook costs for those courses. This is a very positive step toward college affordability and is exactly what we need in more states and on a national scale.

It’s no secret that the high cost of textbooks places an enormous burden on students. Textbook costs increased by an astonishing 82 percent from 2002 to 2012, a pace that is triple the rate of inflation. Open educational resources are a promising way to address issues related to both costs and education.

Advancing the use of open educational resources means upending a decades-old system, and it has the potential for pushback from institutions, bookstores, publishers and even faculty members, as there isn’t much of an incentive to transition to open educational resources versus traditional textbooks.

But it’s worth it because it is a viable solution to increasing student success. And it starts with open textbooks, which are a collection of open educational resources aggregated in a manner that resembles a traditional textbook.

As a longtime advocate of “open access,” I know that open textbooks are not the only solution to the higher education affordability problem. However, they can save students significant money not only individually, but collectively in high-enrollment classes where the combined savings are potentially large. Take, for example, OpenStax at Rice University, which offers free peer-reviewed open textbooks. It has saved students $155 million since 2012 by offering textbooks for the highest-enrollment college courses across the country. Simply stated, the advantages of using open educational resources offer students greater potential for broader access to information and education in New York, Texas or any state in between.

Open materials can also empower faculty members to change the way they teach and give them the academic freedom to tailor their course content to their students’ needs. What that exactly means for student learning and the motivations that encourage faculty to use open educational resources in their work as researchers and instructors offers an important opportunity to positively impact higher education as a whole.

Luckily some states are getting the message. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed Senate Bill 810 into law supporting the adoption of open educational resources similar to the Affordable Learning Georgia program out of the University System of Georgia, which has saved students more than $16 million through expanding the use of free and open course materials. Other states such as Florida, California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington have enacted legislation that has expanded or stabilized open educational resources.

The momentum is also gaining traction in non-legislative initiatives. Seven of Rhode Island’s state colleges started using open-license textbooks this year in hopes of saving students at least $5 million in the next five years. And open educational resources libraries have been created at the system and/or institutional levels in Arizona, Minnesota, NewYork and Virginia without legislation. Some publishers are even trying to get into the mix.

But we need more. Moving forward, we need to convince more lawmakers in more states – and ultimately taxpayers – of the savings accrued to students and improved academic success rates for students using open educational resources versus traditional textbooks. And we need recurring appropriations to provide sustainable support for promoting and growing open educational resources in teaching and learning. With New York and several large university systems and legislative initiatives setting the example, it’s up to the rest of us to catch up and build on it.

Beyond Discussions of Race

Beyond Barriers

In April, the Libraries hosted “Beyond Barriers: The Community’s Role in Sustaining Diversity,” a panel featuring state and local civic, education and library leaders for an evening of dialogue.  Our goal was simple:  provide a platform for discussing how these institutions can work together to foster and sustain equity in a diverse society. I was pleased to moderate this conversation which included the university’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory Vincent and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, as well as my professional colleagues American Library Association President Julie Todaro and Texas Library Association President Ling Hwey Jeng. The discussion was broad-ranging and vigorous, addressing both personal experiences with race and participant perspectives on social issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Mayor Adler’s efforts in launching a framework to address institutional racism in the city of Austin provided the catalyst for this event, but libraries — by virtue of their mission and nature — have long served as a neutral space for community discussions of diversity. Libraries serve diverse communities. Libraries offer information without bias to opinion. Libraries provide resources and services to those without access elsewhere.

Libraries, though, haven’t necessarily highlighted their contributions to social equality and inclusion, because it’s simply part of what they do to serve the public. We hope that the platform provided by this event will be a first step toward embedding the UT Libraries as a participant in larger efforts to build more equitable systems for the community.

Engaging in the conversation is a good first step, but we need to consider playing a larger role to underscore our value as contributors to solutions. While libraries may not be able to stand alone to fix the problems we share as a community, we can certainly be partner agents of change for a better, more equitable Austin.

Message from the Vice Provost on 40 Hours for the Forty Acres

Main Building Postcard, Alexander Architectural Archives.
Main Building Postcard, Alexander Architectural Archives.

March 7, 1884. This is the date of the first documented book loan. It took place in the Old Main Building library the day after the appointment of an assistant librarian had been confirmed by the faculty.

UT Libraries has changed to serve the Forty Acres needs over the course of 133 years. It is because of your generosity we are able to adapt. The result from our 40 for Forty campaign is an astonishing $41,473 from 204 gifts. I am proud to report that we doubled our donations compared to last year.

Support flowed in to foster innovation and technology within UT Libraries, to build and digitize our collection materials so they may be shared with the world, to support scholarships for our student workers and train the next generation of librarians.

Building the 21st century library takes time and investment. We are grateful to have friends of the library so we can take risks and answer campus needs. Thanks to you, we can write UT Libraries next chapter. I cannot wait to show you.

 

Sincerely,

lorraine j haricombe

Vice Provost and Director

University of Texas Libraries

Welcome UT20 and Returning Longhorns!

Vice Provost and Director of the UT Libraries Lorraine Harricombe with the Longhorn Singers.
Vice Provost and Director of the UT Libraries Lorraine Haricombe with the Longhorn Singers.

Welcome to our incoming class and welcome back to our returning students!

It is with much excitement that I invite you into the many UT Libraries facilities across campus and also online.  While you were gone, we have updated our spaces, hired several new colleagues, installed new technologies to help orient you about our spaces, events and collections in the Perry-Castañeda Library, the largest library on campus.  At UT Libraries’ nine facilities you will find professionals with distinctive expertise committed to assist you in your scholarly work.  In the PCL you will find state of the art technology rich classrooms, gender neutral bathrooms, the University Writing Center, Stem Study spaces and the Scholars Commons for quiet study.  Just steps away from the new and vibrant pedestrian walkway on Speedway, the PCL is already open 24/5 starting on this first day of class.

In the Doty Fine Arts Building, the new 3900 sq. ft. Foundry in the Fine Arts Library will officially open on September 7. In the meantime you are invited to check out the video wall, the 3D printers, sound recording studio and more to support hands-on learning for the entire UT community.

Great libraries make great universities, and we will continually strive to make ourselves and our university greater, because all that starts here, changes the world — one student, one faculty member, one researcher, one mind at a time.

We are here for you onsite or online at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/