“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.
A number of higher education–focused sessions at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference touched on issues surrounding student retention and completion—and with the costs of tuition, housing, and materials constantly rising, saving students money is a major consideration. When the conversation includes state and community colleges, and a student body that may have less access to financial resources, finding strategies to cut costs becomes more important than ever. Open educational resources (OER)—freely accessible texts and media that faculty can assemble, repurpose, and package under open access agreements for teaching and research—are a rapidly growing option.
The Open Educational Resources (OER) phenomenon promises access to information with fewer barriers to academics, but the change will be disruptive. As Open Access has created turmoil among peer-reviewed journal publishers, OERs have similarly challenged curriculum. Learning content—from textbooks to course readings, assessment tools, and other material—was traditionally the domain of a few specialized publishers. However, with the advent (and dramatic proliferation) of digital content, traditional publishers have struggled to keep up.
As part of the ongoing celebration of International Open Access Week, Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) and the Greater New York Metropolitan Area Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL/NY) organized a panel discussion on November 2 titled “Leveraging Open Educational Resources in the Classroom and Beyond.”
Last month I enjoyed the distinct privilege of keynoting the Conference for Law School Computing (also known as “CALIcon”), a gathering of legal educators, law librarians, and IT professionals in law put together by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). I can’t say enough in praise of the ever-present spirit of sly spirited fun at this conference.