Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Idaho Library, Moscow
MLIS, Drexel University, 2011
Photo by Patrick Heagney
Open Ed Evangelist
“I can’t afford both books and food,” reads a University of Idaho student’s comment on a Change.org petition to reduce the cost of textbooks. “I have to choose to either eat or pass my classes.” That student has a champion in Annie Gaines, who moved from a clerical position to become the University of Idaho Library’s first scholarly communications librarian. Gaines advocates for open educational resources (OER), particularly open textbooks, for the university’s students—and, crucially, for students statewide.
“Advocating for our students is a natural role for librarians,” says Gaines. “In many cases, faculty members are unaware of just how expensive the books they select are…or how much of an impact a $200 book can have on an average student. Open educational resources…[n]ot only alleviate the financial burden on students but…provide flexibility and freedom for faculty.” Gaines’s passion for OER combines her belief in open access (OA) and her commitment to making education more affordable for all.
As well as serving as a spokesperson for OER statewide, Gaines is currently creating a fellowship to entice faculty to transition one of their courses to affordable and/or open educational materials and working with state groups that are considering OER for high school students who take college courses.
What does it all mean for students’ wallets? “Thanks to our partnership with [OER vendor] OpenStax and after some convincing, the professor of an introductory psychology course took the leap and switched to the OpenStax psychology book,” says Gaines. “Just one faculty member was able to save students around $25,400!”