20 Transforming Publishing with a Little Help From Our Friends: Supporting an Open Textbook Pilot Project with Friends of the Libraries Grant Funding

Chelle Batchelor

Defining the Problem

Challenges abound to both the adoption of existing open textbooks and the creation of new open textbooks. Key challenges identified by faculty are issues of quality, availability of content, and the time it takes to adopt or create open educational resources (OER), particularly open textbooks. Solutions to these challenges are being explored through a collaborative pilot project involving the Open Textbook Network, the Rebus Foundation, and several universities. This case study describes how, with the support of a Friends of the Libraries Grant, staff and faculty at the University of Washington (UW) participated in an Open Textbook Pilot Project to create new open textbooks within the Rebus Community platform. Although this pilot is ongoing, it has already begun to address some of the challenges to OER creation and adoption.

Despite the continued increase in the availability of existing open educational materials and the growth of the open education movement, awareness of OER is still a challenge, with 58 percent of faculty reporting that they were “generally unaware of OER” in a recent national survey. In this survey, only 6.6 percent of faculty reported that they were “very aware” of OER, with around three times that many (19%) saying that they were “aware” (Allen & Seaman, 2016). The same study found that the barriers to adopting OER most often cited by faculty who are aware of the existence of OER are: “there are not enough resources for my subject” (49%), it is “too hard to find what I need” (48%) and “there is no comprehensive catalog of resources” (45%) (Allen & Seaman, 2016).

UW faculty primarily have concerns about quality of content and the amount of time it takes to convert a course from a commercial textbook to an open one. This is consistent with a finding by Martin, Belikov, Hilton, Wiley, and Fischer that “while an overwhelming majority (90%) of respondents were open to the notion of using open resources, it was contingent upon the OER being ‘suitable’, or at least equal in quality to what they were currently using” (Martin et al., 2017). The Babson survey similarly found that quality concerns were present among faculty members (28% in comparison with other barriers), and also found that faculty who are aware of OER are more concerned about the quality of OER offerings than those who were not aware of OER prior to taking the survey (Allen & Seaman, 2016). The question of what is ‘suitable’ for a course can depend on many factors, as is demonstrated by reading reviews in the Open Textbook Library, which include criteria such as accuracy, comprehensiveness, relevance/longevity, clarity, consistency, grammatical errors, cultural relevance, and others. In one example, a UW faculty member states that the OpenStax biology textbook is “unusable” due to “topic(s) completely missing or coverage is so poor” on several topics that she goes on to list (Doherty, 2016). In another example, a Bemidji State University faculty member notes that a lack of ancillary materials is the primary reason his department would not adopt a financial accounting text (Joyce, 2015).

One of the advantages of using open textbooks is the fact that their licenses allow for adaptation. In a case such as the OpenStax biology example above, an instructor could remix and revise the book, adding their own content or creating assignments that require students to create new content for the book. Alternately, an instructor could supplement the book with other open resources or library-licensed content. However, when the topic of adapting existing open textbooks has been discussed in OER meetings and workshops at UW, faculty attendees have consistently responded that they lack the time to do so. Time emerged as a major barrier in a report by Chae and Jenkins who found that “Lack of time for course redesign in current college employment contexts emerged clearly in our study as a primary barrier to performing the often time-intensive work of finding, adapting and creating OER” (Chae & Jenkins, 2015). Faculty reported in this study that they had gained time for this work via sabbaticals and course releases. In an institutional environment where those options are not offered, time can be an insurmountable barrier to OER adoption or creation. Activities related to open textbook adoption, including creation of new content, creation of ancillary materials, course and assignment redesign and pedagogical innovation are time-consuming. Any program that offers support for OER adoption or creation must take these challenges into consideration.

UW Open Textbook Pilot Project Background

The genesis of the UW Open Textbook Pilot Project was contingent upon what seemed to be a fortuitous coming together of several elements: 1) the Open Textbook Network was hearing an increasing demand from its members for support for publishing new open textbooks, 2) the Rebus Foundation was forming, with the specific intent of providing support of that nature, 3) the UW Libraries, a new member of the Open Textbook Network, had formed an OER Steering Committee that was exploring ways to support OER and 4) the Friends of the UW Libraries was accepting grant proposals for the 2016–17 academic year.

Open Textbook Network

The Open Textbook Network (OTN) launched in April 2012 with the goal of increasing the use of open textbooks in higher education. The Open Textbook Library was created to address the barriers to OER adoption cited above, particularly the lack of a comprehensive catalog and concerns about quality. In April 2017, the Open Textbook Network announced that their catalog contained over 385 books in 14 broad subject areas and that they had recently uploaded their 1000th faculty review of a textbook. These faculty reviews serve two purposes—one is to address the quality issue through peer review, the other is to raise awareness of the textbooks themselves in the process of soliciting peer reviews. When an institution joins the OTN, experts from the Network visit the institution to provide workshops to faculty, librarians, and staff. The workshops build understanding of OER for all who attend, and faculty are invited to write a review of a textbook in the Open Textbook Library. Faculty are provided a small stipend in compensation for attending the workshop and writing a review. Since its formation, this model has proven successful. The OTN has reported $3.1 million in savings to students by nine early members.

Rebus Foundation

The Rebus Foundation was founded by Hugh McGuire, an innovator with a passion for equity of access to information. McGuire had previously worked on two projects that uniquely prepared him to conceptualize and implement Rebus. The first was LibriVox, an online community that began in 2005 with the objective “To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet” (“Objective LibriVox”, n.d.). Twelve years later, LibriVox is a massive online community with over 10,000 completed projects. The second was Pressbooks, an open source software product that supports creation of ebooks. Pressbooks provides a user-friendly interface and simple publishing templates that together make it relatively easy to create a book and publish it online in multiple formats, including epub, mobi, and PDF. The Rebus Foundation brings together the best of both former projects to support the creation of open textbooks in a community-based setting. Taking the forum structure from LibriVox and using Pressbooks as the publishing platform, Rebus provides all the tools needed for textbook authors and contributors to work together to create new open textbooks.

UW Open Educational Resources Steering Committee

The UW Open Educational Resources Steering Committee (UW OERSC) was formed in January 2016 by the UW Libraries. The committee is co-chaired by John Danneker, Director of Odegaard Library and Chelle Batchelor, Director of Access Services. The charge of the committee is to bring together stakeholders from the UW community to advocate for and support OER efforts. Membership includes representation from UW faculty, Associated Students of the University of Washington, UW Book Store, University Press, Libraries, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Disability Resources for Students, Teaching and Learning Center, and UW-IT Learning Technologies. Chelle Batchelor led the UW Open Textbook Pilot Project and drew from the expertise of other committee members on several occasions.

UW Friends of the Libraries

The Friends of the Libraries is an organization that was established in 1991 to provide support to the university libraries by promoting awareness of the libraries within the community and by stimulating financial support for the UW Libraries (Friends of the Libraries, n.d.). Funding for innovative projects in the Libraries is provided by the Friends by awarding grants of up to $5,000 per project. Grants are proposed and awarded once per year, and any member of the Libraries staff can apply for a grant. Projects are evaluated on how well they support the Libraries’ four key strategic visions of research and scholarship, teaching and learning, engagement, and sustainability. Projects are more likely to be accepted if they benefit the Libraries and their users through imaginative and useful approaches to practice, research, teaching, and learning, and if they reflect the Libraries’ values of collaboration, diversity, excellence, innovation, integrity, and responsiveness.

Case Study: The UW Open Textbook Publishing Pilot

The UW Libraries joined the Open Textbook Network in May 2015 and subsequently hosted Sarah Cohen, David Ernst, and Rajiv Jhangiani for a series of Open Textbook Workshops that were held in January 2016. The outline of the day included a workshop for staff and librarians, a workshop for faculty, and a mid-day open discussion to which staff and faculty from all academic units were invited. The open discussion drew a diverse group of attendees, including faculty and staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning, University Press, UW Book Store, UW Libraries, and Disability Resources for Students. Seeing the level of interest and engagement in the topic of OER and the already established collaboration between academic units, Sarah Cohen from the OTN invited UW to join the Open Textbook Publishing Pilot as one of the first participating institutions.

The idea of participating in the Open Textbook Publishing Pilot was attractive because several UW faculty had expressed interest in creating and publishing their own open textbooks when UW OERSC members spoke with them during their OER advocacy efforts between May 2015 and January 2016. The pilot had the potential to fill a need for the faculty, and it seemed likely that participants were readily available. However, successful programs to encourage the adoption and creation of OER offer incentives to faculty for their participation. Seeking advice from Karen Brooks, the Manager of University Libraries Grant Services, UW OERSC co-chair Chelle Batchelor learned about the Friends of the Libraries Grant, which was approaching the beginning of its 2016 application cycle. Reviewing past grant proposals, she found that they were very focused on library collections, with examples ranging from purchase of video games to digitization of rare audio materials. However, the Open Textbook Publishing Pilot did fit within the grant criteria, so she worked with her co-chair John Danneker and another UW Libraries staff member, Steve Weber, to apply. The Friends of the Libraries approved the proposal with maximum grant funding, providing $5,000 to offer three stipends of $1,500 per open textbook, plus an additional $5,00 to fund student employee hours to assist with the project.

After receiving the grant funding, Batchelor sent a call for interest in the project to all UW faculty who had expressed interest in OER in the past. This included all faculty who attended the OTN’s Open Textbook Workshop as well as several others. Although this was a relatively small group of faculty, the call for interest elicited three responses. The projects proposed were an introductory text for the digital humanities, a financial management textbook, and an interactive introduction to neuro science textbook. After an initial project kickoff meeting with Hugh McGuire that included a demonstration of Pressbooks, two authors decided to move forward with their projects and one, the person who proposed the interactive textbook project, decided the platform would not support his needs. Going forward, the pilot project participants were Chelle Batchelor (UW project coordinator), Justin Marlowe (lead author), Sharon Kioko (contributor), Sarah Ketchley (lead author), and Emily Thompson (contributor).

As a next step, individual meetings were held between the OTN Director of Publishing and Collections Karen Lauristen, Rebus staff, and the authors for each project. Batchelor attended those meetings as the UW project coordinator. Rebus staff made it clear in these early meetings that the projects would need to be licensed under a CC-BY license, and the authors agreed. One author had originally intended to license her work as CC-BY-NC, but was convinced by the Rebus philosophy:

CC-BY is the most open of the Creative Commons licenses, which means that society at large can build upon content licensed this way in the easiest, freest and most effective ways. We are trying to help build an open information ecosystem, where not only can any student get access to textbooks for free, but further, anyone—another professor, a university, an app maker, or an artist—can build new value, new content and new services on top of this base layer of “public good,” the Open Textbook. (“Licensing”, n.d.)

After establishing that the Pressbooks platform would meet their needs and determining that they would license their textbooks as CC-BY, the authors embarked on their projects. Batchelor joined a few more meetings between the authors and Rebus staff, but the authors soon began to work very independently, with minimal assistance from the Libraries. The student employee wages that were paid for by the Friends Grant were used to provide one author with assistance with entering content into Pressbooks. That student, Emily Thompson, became a volunteer collaborator on the textbook after the funding was expended. The other authors requested no support from the Libraries.

An open textbook project being supported by the Rebus Community will typically go through the following phases.

  1. Lead author(s) identified;
  2. Lead author submits project proposal to Rebus staff;
  3. If accepted, Rebus staff post project proposal to the Rebus Community forum;
  4. Content collaborators are identified (optional);
  5. Content is created in, or imported into, Rebus Pressbooks;
  6. Peer reviewers are identified by author(s);
  7. Peer review is coordinated by Rebus staff;
  8. Publishing is coordinated by Rebus staff;
  9. Marketing takes place via multiple community channels (Rebus community, Rebus staff, peer reviewers, Open Textbook Network, etc.).

The UW Open Textbook Publishing Pilot authors entered the pilot in very different phases of textbook development. Marlowe and Kioko were about halfway finished with a draft version of their Financial Strategy for Public Managers textbook, with a large amount of content already written and compiled. These authors did not foresee needing any collaborators to create content—they would write the remaining content themselves. Ketchley and Thompson had an outline for their textbook and a small amount of content was already written.

From July 2016, when the Friends Grant was received, until November 2016, the participating authors began to work on their textbooks in Pressbooks while the Rebus Foundation began hiring staff and working on software development for the Rebus Community and Rebus Pressbooks. In November 2016, Rebus launched. From that point on, Rebus staff took over the bulk of the project management for both textbooks and the authors began meeting with Rebus staff periodically as the projects evolved. By May 2017 (when this book chapter was being written), the Planning and Implementing a Digital Humanities Project textbook had a table of contents and chapter placeholders in Pressbooks, as well as some introductory content. The project was still being worked on by the authors, but was somewhat stalled because the UW course it was originally being created for had been cancelled and both authors had moved on to new positions at UW. The Financial Strategy for Public Managers textbook was complete and was being used in classes by Marlowe and Kioko, and Rebus staff had identified five people who were interested in providing peer review for the text.

Because the Financial Strategy for Public Managers textbook was one of the first in the Rebus platform to reach completion, it was a perfect candidate to be the test case for another goal of the Rebus Foundation—to develop good accessibility practices throughout the open textbook publishing process. Krista Greear, Assistant Director of UW Disability Resources for Students and UW OERSC member, joined a team of people who reviewed Marlowe and Kioko’s text, collaborated with the authors to remediate any accessibility issues with it, and worked to create recommendations for building accessibility best practices into the authoring process.

Pilot Outcomes

As is well evidenced in the literature on OER as well as in other chapters of this book, financial savings to students is one of the most compelling outcomes of OER adoption. Justin Marlowe and Sharon Kioko have thus far used their book in three sections of PUBPOL 522, which enrolls 60 students per section and is the core budgeting and finance course that all UW Masters of Public Administration students take in their first year. According to the OTN formula for counting savings to students, their book has already saved students $27,000. Each time this course is offered in the future, another $6,000 will be added to that figure. Therefore, this textbook has the potential to save UW students almost $100,000 over a five-year period. If faculty at other institutions decide to adopt this textbook, the total savings to students from this one book could grow exponentially.

However, savings to students is only one of the benefits of this open textbook. When Chelle Batchelor spoke with Justin Marlowe in their first meeting to explore Justin’s possible participation in the pilot, he spoke of how the existing commercial textbooks were not a good fit for his course. Those textbooks looked at financial strategy through a different lens, more geared toward business and marketing than public policy. The number of programs that teach financial strategy from this lens is very small, so there likely is not a sufficient market for a commercial textbook to be successful. Therefore, creation of an open textbook was a perfect solution.

After they began to use the textbook in their course, Marlowe and Kioko discovered that they were able to adopt open pedagogical practices that were directly tied to the learning objectives for their course. For example, one assignment requires students to apply an analytical framework to a problem, and the authors have incorporated some of the students’ analyses into the textbook as additional examples and practice problems. They have also asked students for feedback on an exercise in the book and have revised it based on that input. Although the authors did not embark on the project with any specific plans to start utilizing open pedagogical models, they have naturally begun to do so and have found it to be beneficial because it allows them “to respond, almost in real time, to students’ concerns and interests” (J. Marlowe, personal communication, April 8, 2018).

Faculty who have involved their students in this type of open pedagogical practice have noted that the ability for students to contribute to the resource they are learning from is an advantage of OER over commercial textbooks. Robin DeRosa articulates this on her blog, stating that her students “immediately seemed invested in the project” to co-create a textbook with her and “seemed more connected to the textbook itself, more willing to engage with it.” She concludes, “Open textbooks save money, which matters deeply to our students. But they can also create a new relationship between learners and course content, and if teachers choose to acknowledge and enable this, it can have a profound effect on the whole fabric of the course” (DeRosa, 2016). In their study of K–12 teachers’ perceptions of the role of OER, de los Arcos, Farrow, Pitt, Weller, and McAndrew similarly report, “in response to how OER affect learning, teachers stress better engaged, more independent students” (2016). Marlowe has found this to be true in his own students’ response to the Financial Strategy for Public Managers textbook. Because they have provided a combination of editorial input as well as case studies for inclusion in the text, Marlowe has found that they have been more engaged with the text knowing that their feedback will be used to improve it.

Another outcome that seems to be developing out of our Open Textbook Publishing Pilot and merits continuing investigation is the possible formation of a community of users of and contributors to the Financial Strategy for Public Managers textbook. Marlowe had an opportunity to speak with a group of colleagues about his textbook at a meeting he attended when it was in the first draft phase. Several of those colleagues expressed interest in the textbook because they too had struggled with the lack of a commercial textbook that met the needs of their courses. When Rebus staff sent a call for participation in the peer review process to the same group of colleagues, Rebus was overwhelmed by the positive response. They received more than twice as many volunteers as they expected, so they restructured their peer review process to include chapter reviewers as well as book reviewers. If these colleagues who are now reviewing the textbook subsequently adopt it and possibly adapt it or provide updated content for inclusion in future editions, we will be witnessing the genesis of a Rebus Community approach to creating textbooks that involves faculty and students across multiple institutions. This would be incredibly exciting, given the potential of such an approach to resolve issues around the sustainability of open textbooks over time.

One certain outcome of the pilot is that the process of soliciting and securing peer reviewers created a built-in opportunity for promoting the new open textbook. Several faculty in the discipline within which the textbook is being taught are now aware of it, and are probably more aware of OER and the opportunities open licensing presents than they were previously. This awareness-building occurred as a natural outgrowth of Marlowe’s peer-to-peer networking, seeking input into the work he was creating, and exploring whether colleagues in his discipline would benefit from it. As was previously discussed in this chapter, awareness of OER is one of the significant barriers to adoption. This outcome of the UW Open Textbook Pilot Project has shown that the Rebus model has the potential to break down that barrier.

Another barrier that was discussed previously is the issue of open textbook quality and comprehensiveness. Because the Financial Strategy for Public Managers textbook is just entering the peer review phase, it remains to be seen whether this barrier will be addressed. However, the review process will provide an opportunity for the textbook to be critiqued and improved upon by five experts in the field, ensuring a high likelihood of success.

The barrier of time is still a major factor, and not one that has yet been solved by the UW Open Textbook Pilot Project. Creation, adaptation, and even adoption of open textbooks requires time and effort on the part of one or more faculty members, for whom time is a precious resource. Faculty have many demands on their time, so work in OER must present them with other benefits that will outweigh the cost of time. For some, the cost benefit to their students may be enough. For others, the benefits of open pedagogy might be the influencing factor. In this pilot, the Friends Grant, though small, proved to be an important incentive. When asked what role the grant played for them (i.e. funding for editing, proofreading, or other role), the textbook authors responded that it acted as an incentive for them to contribute their time as textbook authors.

Pilot Success Factors

In addition to the outcomes described above, the UW Open Textbook Publishing Pilot surfaced numerous success factors that will be considered in future iterations of the pilot.

Factor 1: Departmental Support

Of the two open textbook projects from the 2016–17 pilot, one textbook was at a much more advanced stage of development by the end of the pilot period. This textbook was written by faculty who were teaching a course in a well-established program and who had full departmental support for their project. The other textbook was to be taught in a course that was grant-supported. When the grant funding for the course ran out, the department in which the course was being taught chose not to fund the continuation of the course. Therefore, the course the textbook was being developed for ceased to be taught. The authors will continue work on the textbook, but with no departmental support, any work they do on the book will be on their own time. Also, when completed, the textbook will not have a course at UW where it can be used, tested, revised, and enhanced.

Ensuring future success: request a statement of departmental support as part of the project proposal process.

Factor 2: Project Management

Project management is a key success factor in any open textbook project. One advantage of working with the Rebus Foundation has been the availability of Rebus staff to provide project management support. Once a textbook project is launched, Rebus staff will periodically check in with authors on their progress, particularly if a task has yet to be completed. In retrospect, it would also have been helpful to have an established timeline and benchmarks at the outset of the project. This would be particularly useful for projects for which content creation is part of the project. The Marlowe and Kioko textbook was successful despite the lack of an established project timeline, but the Ketchley and Thompson textbook was less successful and likely would have benefited from a more structured approach.

Ensuring future success: create a timeline and benchmarks during the project initiation phase. Check on progress periodically throughout the project.

Factor 3: Authorship Plan

Another way to increase success would be to establish clear expectations for authors at the outset of the project. In a Rebus Open Textbook project, authors can take on a variety of roles. For example, one project might have a lead author who creates an outline of their proposed textbook and coordinates co-authors to contribute content, while another project might have one or two primary authors who contribute all the content and only reach out to collaborators for peer review. Other models might require the authors to outsource other work such as graphic design or proofreading, either through the Rebus Community or via other channels. By creating an authorship plan at the beginning of a project, one can ensure that authors understand what is expected of them and that the plan will fit within their own capacity to do the necessary work of the project within the established project timeline.

Ensuring future success: create an authorship plan during the project initiation phase.

Factor 4: Ready Content

Another factor that appeared to be a predictor of success in this iteration of the pilot was the existence of content that was already written and ready to load into Pressbooks. Marlowe and Koiko had at least half of the chapters written when they began their project, and all they needed was a publishing platform to make their open textbook concept a reality. For the Ketchley and Thompson project, very little content was already written and ready to input into Pressbooks when they began. This was certainly a factor in the more rapid completion of the Marlowe and Kioko project.

Ensuring future success: include a question on future application forms asking how much content has been written.

Factor 5: Platform Ease of Use

Pressbooks, the publishing platform being used by the Rebus Community, is so easy to use it almost became an “invisible” factor in the UW Open Textbook Publishing Pilot. The authors quickly adapted to Pressbooks, had very few questions about how to use it, and provided generally positive feedback on the platform. It is notable, however, that neither of these projects necessitated mathematical equations, embedded videos or interactive elements. Both projects were text-based: the Marlowe and Kioko project included graphs and images, while the Ketchley and Thompson project included hyperlinks that necessitated a plan for creating stable links to web content.

Ensuring future success: continue to use Rebus Pressbooks for text-based projects.

Factor 6: Network of Peers

Marlowe was easily able to identify peer reviewers for his open textbook and the Rebus project team was surprised by how many of his colleagues volunteered. If this had not been the case, the project could have stalled in the peer review phase. In embarking on future projects, it would be wise to identify a mechanism for finding peer reviewers at the outset of the project, if not the potential reviewers themselves.

Ensuring future success: add a question on future application forms asking how peer reviewers will be identified.

Factor 7: Incentive Grant

A goal of the Rebus Community is to support the entire publishing process, from writing and design to review and marketing of the open textbook. Therefore, any funding that is secured to support the open textbook project can be offered purely as an incentive to the author(s). Numerous grant-funded OER projects across the country have shown that even a relatively small grant can act as an incentive for faculty to engage in OER work, including open textbook creation. In our case, the Friends of the Libraries Grant of $1,500 per project was a successful incentive.

Ensuring future success: continue to offer incentive grants for open textbook projects.

Current and Future Directions

The UW Open Textbook Pilot entered a second phase in April 2018, after the pilot coordinators applied for and were awarded $10,000 from the UW Libraries Kenneth S. and Faye G. Allen Endowment to explore the role of open textbooks in library collections. A request for proposals to create or significantly adapt an open textbook went out to all faculty across the three UW campuses. Proposals will be reviewed in late April and award recipients will be notified in May. This second phase pilot will not require authors to participate in the Rebus Community, but will support participation if an appropriate project emerges.

At the same time, the Rebus Foundation is in the process of launching a new platform for the Rebus Community. The new platform is intended to “enable global open textbook creators to collaborate on open textbook projects” (Rebus Community, 2018). The launch is anticipated to occur in May of 2018, and individuals who are interested in continued developments are encouraged to explore the Rebus Community website and attend or view Rebus Office Hours. More information and opportunities to get involved in Rebus are available on the community website, https://about.rebus.community/.

Reflections on the UW Open Textbook Pilot Project

The UW Open Textbook Pilot Project scratched the surface of the exciting potential for the Rebus approach to textbook publishing to transform higher education. Imagine the future: an open textbook is created by a community of faculty who all teach similar classes across the world. The textbook creation project itself acts as a catalyst for faculty collaboration across institutions. The community of co-creators for each textbook is formed and stays connected through the Rebus Community. Open textbooks are hosted by institutional networks or library consortia that are connected into a larger Rebus Pressbooks network. Peer-reviewed, published editions are available for printing or download through multiple vendors and platforms. The publishing platform being developed by Rebus is free to use, so in order to make the Rebus staffing model sustainable, students might have to pay a small amount for access to a textbook (i.e. $10 to download; $35 to print). However, they will then have indefinite access to that edition, as well as free, open access to an online version. New models of teaching with textbooks emerge—faculty use open pedagogical practices to engage their students with the textbook, either adapting it to create new versions or iteratively updating the original textbook. In this way, student course output is used to further future student learning instead of going into disposable homework assignments. The textbook itself continues to evolve, drawing new content from the experts and learners who use it.

Academic librarians have an important role to play in this evolving open textbook ecosystem. In the current formative phase of the Rebus Community, librarians can be crucial catalysts and connectors. Advancement offices in academic libraries often have funds like the UW Friends of the Libraries Grant that can be leveraged to catalyze a new open textbook creation project. The support provided by Rebus staff removes much of the onus of project management from the librarian, making the project more feasible for a person who has many other competing responsibilities. Librarians can also act as catalysts by providing general OER education and advocacy on their campuses, generating enthusiasm for and interest in OER among faculty and librarian colleagues. Also, liaison librarians are naturally connected to faculty in the subject areas they represent, so librarians are well positioned to reach out to potential project collaborators. Over time, open textbooks might gain a place in academic library collections that commercial textbooks traditionally have not had, given their disposable, multi-edition nature. What might it look like for an academic library to collect, or even publish, a textbook that is ever-evolving and openly available online? These questions and others will surface as more open textbooks are created and need to be curated, so academic librarians must continue to be engaged and involved in the open textbook movement as it progresses.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2016). Opening the textbook: Educational resources in U.S. higher education, 2015–16. Babson Survey Research Group. Retrieved from https://www.onlinelearningsurvey.com/reports/openingthetextbook2016.pdf

Chae, B., & Jenkins, M. (2015). A qualitative investigation of faculty open educational resource usage in the Washington community and technical college system: Models for support and implementation. Retrieved from OpenWA Website: http://www.openwa.org/1483-2/

de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Pitt, R., Weller, M. & McAndrew, P. (2016). Adapting the curriculum: How K-12 teachers perceive the role of open educational resources. Journal of Online Learning Research, 2(1), 23–40.

DeRosa, R. (2016). My open textbook: Pedagogy and practice [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://umwdtlt.com/open-textbook-pedagogy-practice/

Doherty, J. (2016). Biology 2e [Review]. Open Textbook Library. Retrieved from https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=167

Friends of the Libraries. (n.d.). University of Washington libraries. Retrieved from http://www.lib.washington.edu/support/friends

Joyce, B. (2015). Financial accounting [Review]. Open Textbook Library. Retrieved from https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=4

Licensing. (n.d.). Rebus community. Retrieved from https://about.rebus.community/licensing/

Martin, M., Belikov, O., Hilton J., III, Wiley, D., & Fischer, L. (2017). Analysis of student and faculty perceptions of textbook costs in higher education. Open Praxis, 9(1), 79–91.

Objective LibriVox. (n.d.). Librivox. Retrieved from https://librivox.org/pages/about-librivox/

Rebus Community. (2018, May 16). Office hours launch: Rebus Community Projects. Retrieved from https://about.rebus.community/2018/03/office-hours-launch-rebus-community-projects-may-16-12-p-m-pst-3-p-m-est/


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians | Editor's Cut Copyright © 2018 by Christy Allen; Nicole Allen; Jean Amaral; Alesha Baker; Chelle Batchelor; Sarah Beaubien; Geneen E. Clinkscales; William Cross; Rebel Cummings-Sauls; Kirsten N. Dean; Carolyn Ellis; David Francis; Emily Frank; Teri Gallaway; Arthur G. Green; Sarah Hare; John Hilton III; Cinthya Ippoliti; DeeAnn Ivie; Rajiv S. Jhangiani; Michael LaMagna; Anne Langley; Jonathan Lashley; Shannon Lucky; Jonathan Miller; Carla Myers; Julie Reed; Michelle Reed; Lillian Hogendoorn; Heather M. Ross; Matthew Ruen; Jeremy Smith; Cody Taylor; Jen Waller; Anita Walz; Andrew Wesolek; Andrea Wright; Brady Yano; and Stacy Zemke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book