ACRL Roundtable: Fostering a Culture of Sharing

Next week is the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference in Philadelphia (my hometown!). I’ll be hosting a roundtable called “Fostering a Culture of Sharing on Campus.”

Full description:

Academic libraries have focused increasing attention over the last few years on encouraging open access (OA) publishing among faculty authors. While some institutions have had success encouraging faculty to adopt OA policies, such a narrow approach is very limited. How can we as librarians work more broadly to foster a culture of sharing on our campuses, one that would improve access not just to peer reviewed scholarly literature, but also to teaching materials, data, textbooks, images, and all the other knowledge and creativity that is generated at colleges and universities?

When: Friday, April 1 · 12:15pm – 1:15pm
Where: Roundtable 27 (Exhibit Hall A, Pennsylvania Convention Center)

I’m very interested to hear what others are already doing to foster a culture of sharing on their campuses, and I also plan to have the group do some brainstorming so that we can walk away with concrete things we can do back at our home institutions. If we get stuck I’m likely to borrow the technique that Jane Park used to such great effect at Drumbeat: 1) Make a list of barriers to sharing on campus. 2) Pick one barrier, and make a list of possible solutions. 3) Pick one solution, and figure out how we might actually implement it.

If you’ll be at ACRL and you’re interested in openness on campus, I hope you’ll join me.

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$2 billion dollars to improve access to educational resources. That’s right. $2 billion.

Today the Department of Labor announced a solicitation for grant applications under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAA CCCT), which will invest $2 billion “to provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs.” All of the materials created with program funds must be released under a CC-BY license. This is $2 billion dollars from the United States government that is in part explicitly to fund the production of open educational resources. Hal Plotkin alluded that something big was coming in his talk at Open Ed in November. This is a really big something.

A mini link round-up:

The full program announcement

The Department of Labor press release

The grants will provide postsecondary institutions with an opportunity to develop and make innovative use of a variety of evidence-based learning materials, including cutting-edge shared courses and open educational resources. These resources would be available online for free, greatly expanding learning opportunities for students and workers. In addition, these learning tools will help schools and students tailor education so each worker can have a better opportunity for success in the classroom and job market.

Mr. Hal Plotkin himself on the grants and their import

The materials produced as a result of these grants will carry the Creative Commons BY license, which also permits their free derivative use for commercial purposes. That means companies, schools, entrepreneurs, and others will be free to bundle, adapt, or customize the learning materials to create new offerings, products, and services. Schools will be able to affordably offer courses in subject areas and at levels of expertise previously beyond their reach.

Creative Commons, whose licenses make the whole thing possible

Congratulations to The Department of Labor, The Department of Education, and others involved in crafting this important, innovative program. Creative Commons is committed to leveraging this opportunity to create a multiplier effect for public dollars to be used on open, reuseable quality content.

Tech President, “Obama puts dollars behind open sourcing education”

[T]he Obama administration is putting a considerable amount of money — $500 million a year for four years, for a total of $2 billion, or what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described on a press call as “may be the largest investment into two-year institutions since the GI Bill” — behind the principle [of OER].

Chronicle of Higher Ed, “2-Year colleges get details of $2 billion grant program”

The announcement of the program’s details has been long anticipated by community-college officials. President Obama first proposed a major grant program for community colleges in 2009, shortly after taking office. He originally proposed a $12-billion plan to improve community colleges, called the American Graduation Initiative, but that plan collapsed during negotiations over legislation to overhaul student aid and the nation’s health-care system.

People are going to be talking about this for awhile.

Open Ed 2010 Conference Proposal

Over the last year I have become increasingly interested in the role of libraries and librarians in the production and publication of Open Educational Resources (OER). It seems like an area with lots of overlap in mission – improving access, sharing knowledge, supporting teaching and learning – and also one where libraries would have a lot to contribute, both in terms of expertise and infrastructure. At Michigan, we’re investigating the possibility of bringing parts of Open.Michigan, the OER operation that is currently housed in the Medical School, into the Library, and my Open.Michigan colleagues and I have collaborated on a proposal about it for the Open Ed 2010 Conference:

Abstract (aka. tweet): Many university libraries are primed to run OER and OCW shops, but no one is doing it. The University of Michigan just might lead the way.

Reaching the Heart of the University: Libraries and the Future of OER

University libraries are well positioned to run OER production and publication operations, but so far most institutions developing OER or OCW have little or no integration with their respective libraries. Given a number of aligning factors, the University of Michigan (U-M) has an excellent opportunity to integrate Open.Michigan, its OER operation, with the Library. While the U-M Library’s established publishing apparatus is larger than that of most academic libraries, many institutions share elements that would make OER integration feasible in one form or another. We propose an interactive strategy session where we present the case for greater university library involvement in OER projects generally, with U-M as a case study.

University libraries were among the first OER producers. Early projects to digitize and share public domain materials were spearheaded by libraries in support of their missions to collect, preserve, and provide access to knowledge and information. The Making of America project was a Mellon Foundation-funded partnership among U-M, Cornell University, and the Library of Congress that created one of the first digital libraries of public domain content. Since then, the U-M Library MPublishing department has built a robust digital publishing program that includes a copyright office, an institutional repository, and an experimental unit that publishes open access scholarly journals, monograph series, public domain image collections, print-on-demand textbooks, and reprints. When it assumed responsibility for the University of Michigan Press in 2009, the U-M Library consolidated within MPublishing tremendous expertise in the skills necessary to create and publish open digital content. Recently, the U-M Library began exploring the addition of OER to its portfolio with a strategy to integrate Open.Michigan into MPublishing.

This is what makes Michigan unique. However, the key elements that university libraries share – and OER initiatives need – are infrastructure and relationships. Many university libraries already have the technical, service, and policy infrastructure in place that would provide economies of scale for nascent OER projects. Areas where existing library infrastructure could support OER includes search and discovery, scholarly communications, assessment, metadata and indexing, and institutional repositories. Assessment skills are particularly valuable at this moment as the budget pressures that have pushed academic libraries to scrutinze how their resources and instructional services affect learning are also beginning to shape the world of OER. Meanwhile, most university libraries have a central and trusted position in the lives of faculty, students, and administrators on their campuses. Librarians support curriculum development, guide instructors to appropriate course content, and assist with research. Libraries are already at the heart of universities, which would make mainstreaming OER much easier.

When an OER shop is a stand-alone unit isolated from the day-to-day activities of students and faculty, it becomes difficult to sustain. To achieve long-term sustainability, university-based OER projects need a stable and well-funded home. Libraries could provide that home, and the University of Michigan, which has already established an ethos of sharing and a policy of open licensing in its library, is poised to figure out how.

Getting started

I’ve been meaning to get back on the blogging wagon for quite some time, but hadn’t felt like I had much to share. I kept getting stuck on choosing a header image, and never actually managed to write anything. Lately, there have been a few different things – news items, events, random observations – that made me think, “Gosh, I’d really like to write about this.” And with my first trip to South by Southwest Interactive right around the corner, now seems like a good time to get this thing started.

Except that right now, I’ve got a bad cold and nothing much to say. Lame first post, but at least it’s over and done with.