Sharing is caring (and caring is sharing)

This year, for the first time, the Libraries hosted a series of events to celebrate Open Access Week. Though two weeks have now passed (where is this semester going?), I wanted to share some thoughts about one of the events I went to. In addition to helping Meghan and Elise host a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, I managed to sneak away from teaching long enough to attend a talk on Open Educational Resources delivered by Garin Fons, Project Manager for UT’s Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning.

While there was a lot of good fodder for thought within the presentation, I think that my biggest takeaway is that I do not always embody the ideas of “openness” that I believe in the abstract. Garin opened his talk by discussing “open” as a “mentality and a belief system,” stating that “you either are open or you’re not.” Later in the talk, he discussed some of the issues holding us back from forming a shared culture of openness in education. With much chagrin, I recognized myself as part of the problem.

A quick scan of the For Undergraduates page that houses our student-targeted guides and tutorials reminds me that none of the pages I created include a Creative Commons License. While it’s not difficult to include the license (and we do have it on some of our resources), it rarely occurs to me to do so. In thinking about this I was reminded of a blog post I read a short while ago discussing (among many other things) the difficulties teaching librarians have historically had in establishing a robust practice of systematically sharing what we create. While I think that there are many big pictures approaches we can take toward becoming better sharers (both within libraries and within higher education overall), this talk reminded me that one small step I can take is to practice what I preach and get in the habit of marking what  I create as open. As my teaching winds down for the semester, I hope I can put a little more thought into ways of approaching the larger goal of forming a shared culture to help us spread out some of the work so that we can devote more time to cultivating deep learning.

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