Tag Archives: legislation

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Starting the Conversation About OERs

If you follow open access initiatives in the news or #OA on Twitter, chances are you have heard about open educational resources (OER). From a $5 million federal grant to fund an open textbook pilot program, to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s recent announcement of twenty OER grants statewide in Texas, it’s clear that OER are here to stay.

But is UT ready?

What is OER?

As defined by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), “Open Education encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment.” Open Education Resources are free to use and access, but the logistics of acquiring, managing, implementing access to, and defining OER is challenging for academic libraries. UT Libraries, along with our campus partners, are working to meet that challenge.

In response to a UT Libraries survey of potential scholarly communication projects for 2018, an OER Outreach Working Group was formed to create tools, resources, and training to help subject liaison librarians engage with OER issues.

What does the OER Outreach Working Group do?

The OER Outreach Working Group is comprised of librarians and professional staff from across campus. We meet monthly, and develop projects that seek to achieve the following:

  • Determine gaps in understanding or confidence
  • Look at peer institutions and/or best practices in OER education
  • Decide on resources to help address deficiencies
  • Plan for any informational workshops or the creation of resources
  • Get feedback on effectiveness of created resources
  • Make suggestions or plans for outreach about OER

Getting started: OER workshop for UT librarians, faculty, and staff

UT Libraries and the OER Working Group hosted 30 participants from departments across campus at a half-day workshop on July 24. The purpose of the workshop was to help campus partners define OER; introduce Creative Commons licensing; learn how to describe OER characteristics and benefits to faculty members and students; and be able to locate OER relevant to their discipline.

Two UT Austin faculty members shared their experience using and adopting OER for their courses. Dr. Jocelly Meiners, Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, uses OER lesson plans and exercises to teach her courses for Heritage Spanish learners. She articulated the need for OER among language faculty and their students, as many specialized courses do not have teaching materials commercially available. Dr. Amanda Hager, Lecturer in the  Department of Mathematics, shared her commitment to using OER to help lower financial costs for students and discussed faculty’s challenges to creating, using, and adopting OER. In post-workshop survey responses, many participants noted that hearing from faculty provided the meaningful insights about OER adoption, creation, and use – and would like to hear more from faculty at future workshops.

What’s next for OER at UT?

UT campus partners are ready to learn more about OER. Starting in Fall 2018, OER will be promoted at the new faculty expo and the Working Group will begin updating select LibGuides to incorporate more OERs for student and faculty use. The OER Working Group plans to re-invest in future workshops geared toward specific groups and/or projects, and if you are interested in learning more about OERs please contact UT Libraries Scholarly Communications Librarian, Colleen Lyon at c.lyon@austin.utexas.edu.

Infographic from UT’s Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL)
Infographic from UT’s Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL)

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Who is the OER Outreach Working Group?

The OER Outreach Working Group is made up of eight members comprised of three organizations:

Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL)

Nathalie Steinfeld Childre (Publications Manager), Sarah Sweeney (Project Coordinator)

Texas Digital Library (TDL)

Lea DeForest (Communications Strategist)

UT Libraries

Gina Bastone (Humanities Librarian for English Literature & Women’s and Gender Studies), Sarah Brandt (Librarian for First Year Programs), Carolyn Cunningham (Social Sciences Liaison Librarian), Lydia Fletcher (STEM Liaison Librarian for Physical & Mathematical Sciences), Colleen Lyon (Scholarly Communications Librarian

Ruminations on Copyright Reform

Image courtesy Horia Varlan's Flickr photostream under a Creative Commons license.

Thoughts by the University of Texas Libraries Scholary Communications Advisor and resident copyright expert Georgia Harper on Pam Samuelson’s article, “Reforming Copyright is Possible,” published in the July 9 edition of  The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Pam Samuelson is a visionary copyright scholar, winner of a MacArthur Grant, and an optimist. She believes that despite the dim prospects for badly needed comprehensive copyright reform, we can take small steps to make big improvements, both within and outside the legislative process. Several of her proposals for libraries’ independent action exhort us to rely more confidently on fair use, engage in concerted efforts to search for owners of out-of-commerce works and identify them so that people may use more freely those for whom owners cannot be found, and work together to bring our out-of-copyright works to digital life. For example, she applauds the efforts to create a Digital Public Library that would provide public access to public domain works. She is right. All of these ideas are good ones that deserve our attention and our action.

Her suggestions about how modest legislative efforts could improve the picture for public access to libraries’ holdings are more difficult to embrace. Continue reading

Wanna buy an 8-track?

iStock_000010319628SmallA very timely article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed discussing endowment spending today. Do universities  “spend enough of their endowments for society’s benefit to justify the tax exemption they get”?  Senator Charles Grassley is pushing for legislation requiring universities to spend a minimum 5% of their endowment income annually. His solution is a one-size-fits-all answer to a complex situation that has evolved over many years.

The Libraries benefit from a modest but growing number of endowments.  But is our endowment portfolio big enough to continue to support the increasing costs of growing and maintaining world-class collections?  Not by a long shot.  Endowments for collection enhancement, electronic resources, and preservation activities play a key role in maintaining an academic library’s pivotal place in the lives of students, faculty, and researchers.

It isn’t all about the size of the endowment.  In the case of the Libraries, and for many other academic libraries in the US, the endowment’s specific spending guidelines can have a huge impact.  Continue reading