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Friday, November 21 • 4:15pm - 4:45pm
Make Your Case: Funding a Library-Led OER Initiative in Tough Economic Times

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Adoption of Open Educational Resources (OERs) by faculty who currently use expensive commercial textbooks has a great potential to generate cost savings for students and allow faculty to experiment with new forms of innovative pedagogy. One successful model for kickstarting adoption of OERs on campus is developing library-led faculty incentive programs for creating and using OERs. Temple University Libraries' Alternate Textbook Project and University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries' Open Education Initiative award faculty mini-grants of $1000-2000 to faculty who adopt OERs in their classes. Both of these initiatives have been extremely successful, popular with faculty, and saved students hundreds of thousands of dollars in textbook costs.

In Fall 2013, we proposed a $10,000 grant program to our Libraries administration to create a similar faculty incentive program to promote mass adoption of OERs at North Carolina State University. University of North Carolina system-wide budget cuts in the same fiscal year resulted in a significant cut to the Libraries, making justifying spending on this project extremely important. Our Alt-Textbook Project was successfully funded in full and will begin awarding grants in Spring 2015. In this presentation, we will share our successful proposal for funding and the strategies we used to make the case to our administration to help libraries that may be considering their own OER initiative.

We believe that promoting OERs is a natural fit for many priorities of academic libraries, even in a time of declining library budgets. Developing an OER initiative has allowed us to create and expand strategic partnerships with many other campus units, including our Office of Faculty Development, Distance Education Learning Technology Applications (DELTA), and Campus Bookstore. NCSU Libraries currently purchases a reserves copy of every textbook for every course on campus, so, broad usage of OERs also has the potential to save our Libraries money in our collections budget.

Libraries can also make the case for an OER faculty incentive program by tying their request for funds to pending legislation. On November 14, 2013 Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced The Affordable College Textbook Act. This legislation is intended to control the costs of textbooks for students by making high-quality textbooks easily and publicly accessible for free. This bill would create a competitive grants program through which universities and colleges could obtain funding to support the creation of open textbooks.

We also emphasized the extremely high return on investment of existing faculty incentive programs in making our case to funders. We expect to realize hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for students who are able to use free OERs, and for faculty members to continue using OERs in semesters after the grant funding has ended, based on the early success of our Open Physics Textbook. In 2010, the Libraries purchased the site license for an introductory physics textbook and made it available for 1,300 NCSU students who take introductory physics courses each semester as a free e-textbook or inexpensive print-on-demand textbook. The textbook is still in use today in our introductory courses and very popular with students.

avatar for Will Cross

Will Cross

Director, Open Knowledge Center & Head of Information Policy, North Carolina State University
avatar for Brendan O'Connell

Brendan O'Connell

Instructional Technology Librarian, Smith College Libraries
I am Instructional Technology Librarian at Smith College Libraries, where I contribute to a variety of emerging projects. I am acutely interested in what academic libraries mean in the liberal arts context. Before this, I was a Library Fellow at North Carolina State University... Read More →

Friday November 21, 2014 4:15pm - 4:45pm EST
Crystal Ballroom

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