Open UP! Embracing the Open Educational Resources Movement and the Library’s Role In It
by Lucy Bungo (Villa Maria College, member of the WNYLRC Resource Sharing Committee)
Over the last two decades, our libraries have provided valuable services despite the twin challenges of shrinking budgets and increasingly expensive resources. It’s important to remember that our users, particularly students, feel the same financial strain that libraries do. Libraries are perfectly poised to ease that burden by taking advantage of new technologies and opportunities for collaboration to create and maintain educational resources that are open to all. WNYLRC’s Open UP! Embracing the Open Educational Resources Movement and the Library’s Role In It explored ideas, implementation, and the issues surrounding opening educational resources.
The conference, held at Hilbert College in Hamburg, New York, opened with Nicole Allen’s keynote “Open Educational Resources: Reducing Costs, Expanding Access and Improving Efficacy.” Through her work at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), Nicole is part of the movement to make “open” resources the new default, whether it’s open education materials, open access articles, or open data sets. The status quo and current textbook market are broken; new formats and leasing models have not alleviated the financial pressure that textbooks place on students, so in many circumstances students have opted to go without textbooks or even taken different or fewer courses to avoid textbook costs. These barriers can be reduced and in some cases grades can be raised by using resources that are free and conform to the principles of the 5 Rs (retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute). After a comprehensive examination of various groups that are creating and or hosting OERs, Nicole discussed what librarians can do to help the OER movement blossom. Of course, we can search for and evaluate them, as well as host them for faculty. But we can also partner with other campus entities to offer grants for courses designed to use OERs, give awards for OER use, offer professional development events focusing on OERs, and become certified in Creative Commons licensing.
Our next speaker was Kim Shimomura, who offered “A Legal Perspective on Creative Commons (CC) Licensing” and the appropriate ways to use it for open education resources. She also gave practical advice to avoid some common concerns when using CC to license your own work or remix the work of another author. CC is not the anti-copyright; it works with existing copyright laws, giving authors control over their “original works that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Kim unpacked this particular phrasing to explain what can and cannot be copyrighted, both in terms of content and medium, and who may own the copyrights to materials produced in a variety of circumstances. She also reminded us that CC is a company, and that even though 1.2 billion works are covered by the copyright declarations they developed, that there are limits on those copyright declarations. However, when used appropriately, CC copyright declarations can be used to ensure a work meets the 5 Rs and can be used as an open education resource.
After these two speakers, there were three breakout sessions. I chose to attend Ginger Bidell’s “OER and Learning Resources at Western Governors University.” WGU is a unique institution. It is completely online and courses are competency based; students pay for 6-month term in which they take as many or as few course as they wish, taking one course at a time and completing it before moving on to the next. Students at WGU do not pay out of pocket for the digital resources or textbooks required to complete the course, as WGU provides these materials when a student enrolls in it. Because WGU has 86,000 students, and courses are refreshed every two years and can change quickly to an accurate yet less expensive alternative resource, WGU has significant negotiating power and can work with vendors to acquire learning materials at affordable prices. However, even WGU is not immune from the difficulties more traditional colleges and universities are facing, and they have started an OER initiative to combat this. They identified courses that could make use of OERs in a variety of subject areas, and then pursued textbooks and materials through a variety of sources such as OpenStax, YouTube, Khan Academy, and PhET Simulations.
We then broke for a delicious lunch, and followed it with an activity presented by CeCe Fuoco. CeCe walked us through an educational tool called Breakout Boxes (breakout.edu). These boxes can be purchased or constructed in DIY fashion. The teacher then designs a lesson and puzzles to reinforce the newly learned material. The students must work out puzzles, in small groups or as a single large group, to unlock the Breakout Box. Modifications can be made to turn the Breakout Box into an icebreaker activity or a reward for students.
After lunch and the Breakout Box was our Lightning Rounds Session. Incidentally, all Lightning Round presenters came from Buffalo State College. First was Leah Galka and Eugene Harvey and their presentation “O’er the Moon for OER.” They conducted an internal survey to measure the impact of textbook costs, with startling findings that echoed Nicole Allen’s from earlier in the morning. Leah and Eugene created ALMI, the Affordable Learning Materials Initiative, as a branding and outreach tool to encourage OER adoption and make it visible across campus. Out of this, they created a LibGuide to educate faculty on the differences between “open” resources, “affordable” resources, and specifically “open educational resources”. They also developed an awards program that gave recognition and professional development funds to faculty on campus who were using OERs in their courses.
The next Lightning Round presentation was Lynn Puma and Chris Sackett of Barnes & Noble’s Buff State bookstore. Barnes & Noble recognizes the needs of students and is aware of the difficulties that high textbook costs have placed on academic achievement. They are partnering with OER hosts like OpenStax to create a platform for hosting additional materials, such as PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, and test question banks. Like some other vendors, Barnes & Noble is seeking to provide a more complete course rather than just a textbook. In the future, they may also help with Print on Demand services for OERs as well.
Rounding out the Lightning Rounds was the presentation from Dr. Kyeonghi Baek, faculty member, and Joe Riggie, information systems librarian. They detailed their partnership through the Fostering Innovation in Teaching with Technology Academy, which is a project-specific faculty development opportunity at Buff State. Dr. Baek and Joe sought to flip the classroom of Dr. Baek’s statistics course and have students review pre-statistics mathematics outside the course so that class content could focus on the new statistics content. They identified five math skills for the students to review, and found videos and websites as well as created original content that would lead students through a review of the material. These learning materials were loaded into a LibGuide, and the results were positive both for the students and the administration. Test scores were raised, it and proved the viability of the content farm model as well as reduced barriers to OER adoption by making use of familiar tools.
The closing keynote, “Enabling a Wide Open Future,” was delivered by John Shank. Circulation of physical textbooks is a dying model, and technology is enabling things that were never before considered possible. Previously, libraries operated from a lens of scarcity, but now we are working with through a tsunami of overabundance in terms of resources available. Libraries are perfectly poised to navigate this because of our established cross-campus or cross-community connections, and we are already quite used to sharing. To this, we need to first clear a small path and pick a specific outcome to achieve or impact we want to have. Then, we will use our search skills to find the most suitable solutions, find partners to help us make it a reality, and then continue to lead by example. We remove the barriers so others can join in. The time to begin is now.
After listening to the speakers throughout the day, many of us were fired up to begin OER initiatives in our own libraries. The conference concluded with the afternoon speakers assembled on the presentation stage fielding a large number of questions from attendees during a facilitated discussion. Different questions were pertinent to the individual landscapes at each institution, but the beauty of OERs is that their flexibility and adaptability means that each question could still be relevant to all. I have several ideas for launching OERs at my own library, and I was not alone. I’m sure that there will be many more local presenters (from more than just Buffalo State!) at the next Open Educational Resources Conference!
Did you know that there is an annual national celebration of archives every October? You can find out more about it on the website of the Society of American Archivists at: https://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/american-archives-month-the-power-of-collaboration/american-archives-month-2017
And one of the things you will discover is that National Archives Month originated with “New York Archives Week” celebrations that were launched in the 1990s by the four participating regional Documentary Heritage Programs in existence at that time and operating under the auspices of the 3Rs Councils(Western New York, Metropolitan NY, South Central and Long Island).
The celebration was intended to raise awareness of the value of New York’s unique historical records collections and the repositories responsible for their care and preservation. The event caught on in several more states over time until it became the national event it is today.
Coincidentally it is during Archives Month that Western New York is the host this week to the Fall 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), located at the Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center in Buffalo. You can find out details at http://www.marac.info/upcoming-conferences#Fall2017
Finally, as if the alignment of all this fall+archives activity is not enough to make you wonder, October, as we all know is also when Halloween is celebrated. The origin of Halloween goes back to an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain (wearing costumes to ward off ghosts) that was morphed by the Catholic Church into All Saints Day in medieval times. And, there is, in fact, a patron saint of archives! Saint Lawrence (or alternately, Saint Laurence) is the saint most commonly identified as protector of libraries and archives – I won’t go into all the grisly details of how he became a saint, but you can check it out yourself here: http://www.saintfaithandsaintlaurence.co.uk/page7.html
Ironically, according to this description, his feast day is August 10th – well, we have a head start on 2018 preparations…!
(This is a guest post by Rhonda Konig, Genealogy Specialist at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.)
On October 6th, an evening of fellowship and discovery was hosted by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (BECPL) and the Western New York Genealogical Society (WNYGS). A “Genealogy Lock-In” was organized in support of the Western New York Genealogy Conference: Finding Home & Forging the Future. The all-day WNYGS conference featured award-winning genealogists such as D. Joshua Taylor, a host of PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and Blaine Bettinger, author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy in Practice. The conference was held at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Buffalo.
The Lock-In offered genealogists from Wisconsin, Kansas, California, and other faraway places an opportunity for after-hours research in the Grosvenor Room. The Grosvenor Room is the Library’s Special Collections Department and repository of its genealogy, local history, maps, music scores, and rare book materials.
The night began with an overview of the Library’s genealogy collection, presented by Genealogy Librarian, Rhonda Konig. “Must See” resources such as WNY church records, vital records, the WNYGS library (housed in the Grosvenor Room), and Erie County Poorhouse records were featured. (Keep watching the Library’s Digital Collections webpage for the Poorhouse records; they are coming soon and they are fascinating.)
Personalized assistance was provided by BECPL genealogy specialists and WNYGS volunteers throughout the night. Volunteers included WNYGS President and Augspurger Award winner, Jennifer Liber Raines; WNYGS board member and professional genealogist, Nancy Koester; and Niagara Falls Historian, Elaine Timm.
Participants immersed themselves in the Library’s resources, completed checklists, and shared stories of families or facts found. Most stayed until the event ended, 10:00 p.m.
By all accounts, the Lock-In was a success. Our visitors were happy to have library access that worked with their tight travel schedules, and staff and volunteers enjoyed sharing their expertise and showcasing Western New York.
WNYLRC’s 51st Annual Meeting of the Membership was held on Wednesday, October 4th at the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park.
We featured a theme of “Public Art” this year, with 2 time slots for people to select from among 5 tour locations. With choices such as the Buffalo History Museum and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, there were many possible works to appreciate. Each location had a guide leading the group on a tour of the public art at that location. I and my WNYLRC colleague Olivia Helfer were at the Buffalo History Museum. The on-and-off rain sometimes forced us inside the building, but we even learned a lot about the pieces in there too.
At the meeting itself, Board President John Hood (Ecology & Environment) ran the business meeting and spoke some inspirational words about the future of WNYLRC. Then Aaron Ott, of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, gave a fascinating talk on his initiatives with public art in the city of Buffalo.
We also had our Awards presentations. Every year our Awards Committee works hard to solicit nominations and select winners in different categories. This year’s winners were:
Excellence in Library Service Award
Donna Shine, Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society
Buffalo, New York
Excellence in Library Service Award
Amanda Shepp, Marion H. Skidmore Library
Lily Dale Assembly, Lily Dale, New York
Outstanding Library or Library Program
Workforce Development Programs
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
Buffalo, New York
Regional discussion on issues of organizations having little or no space to store and display collections was held at the Western New York Library Resources Council yesterday.
Over 20 attendees from organizations in the Buffalo Niagara region heard from speakers representing three different “space sharing” experiences: Hamburg municipal governments (Brian Wielinski), The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center (the NACC; Rachel Macklin Olszewski) and the Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society (BIGS) at the Heritage Discovery Center (Diane Blaser and Donna Shine). Brian described how four different government entities share and manage a physical records storage space in Hamburg, Rachel described the genesis of the NACC and how it has evolved into an anchor for the community, offering space for individuals and organizations in the performing arts, music, culture, folk art, and more; Donna and Diane shared their experiences at the Heritage Discovery Center where their BIGS collection is housed in a physical space owned by the WNY Railway Society as part of an exchange in services that the Railway group gets help from them in cataloging their railroad collections.
Discussion topics included grants and other funding sources for building physical spaces; the pros and cons of owning versus renting a physical space; balancing exhibit, storage and processing spaces; ways that organizations can connect among themselves and with other community groups to identify common interests and collecting strengths, facilitating moving towards a shared space experience and more! One main thought that came out of the event was that perhaps there is a need to conduct a major assessment of collections content across the region. Knowing what collections are held by different organizations (what topics or subjects they cover) as well as physical attributes like volume of materials, physical condition, degree to which a collection is processed and or is cataloged in some fashion – all this could go a long way towards mobilizing a plan of action.
What are your thoughts on sharing space? How much room do you have left to house your collection, especially if it continues to grow or the space is being re-purposed for other uses….join the conversation!
At WNYLRC, we always encourage our members to consider digitizing items for the statewide portals New York Heritage or New York State Historic Newspapers. However, there may be some misconceptions about our digitization programs and procedures that are holding you back. Let’s take a look at some of these digitization myths.
Myth #1: You can only digitize something after applying for an RBDB Grant.
Our RBDB grants can be a useful source of funding for your digitization project, but they aren’t required. Maybe you plan to use your institution’s existing time and resources. Or maybe you have funding from another source. It’s all fine with us. All you need to do is fill out our collection application and our Regional Advisory Committee will review it. They’ll decide whether it is an appropriate addition to NYH or NYSHN and we will let you know. Applications are accepted year-round.
Myth #2: Digitization is Expensive.
It doesn’t have to be. If you decide to outsource the scanning to a vendor, then there may or may not be a significant cost. But you could do the scanning in-house, as long as you have a good quality scanner. Check the digitization guidelines for NYH and NYSHN to be certain you know what’s required.
On the other hand, if you consider that “time is money,” outsourcing the digitization may save you some money in comparison to staff time spent on doing it. Many professional digitization companies have automated systems and other cost-saving measures that can make their scanning more efficient. It never hurts to get a quote and do a comparison.
Myth #3: I can’t digitize because I don’t know anything about metadata or the software.
From the time your proposed collection is approved, WNYLRC will be with you throughout the process. For New York Heritage, we will train you in how to create good quality metadata for your items, based on the project’s requirements and recommended best practices. We will also train you in using the CONTENTdm Project Client to upload your images and metadata, or we may even be able to do the uploading for you. For NYS Historic Newspapers, it’s not necessary to create metadata because it’s taken from the publication’s MARC record.