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The Evans Library and the open movement

Visitors to FM’s website are met with the question, “Looking for an excellent education at an affordable price?”

Like many marketing strategies, a relationship is easily established. An attractive opener, yes; and a promise. The Evans Library strives to do its part in fulfilling that promise by leading FM’s involvement in the open movement.

What is the open movement?

Glad you asked.

There are numerous aspects to the open movement. Open access, open publishing, open data, open source and open educational materials are all subsets of a larger, open movement that suggests we – culturally, socially and personally – are all made better when through sharing.

Heavily influenced by the Hewlett Foundation, “[o]pen educational resources are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

Over the past two years the Evans Library has experienced an increase in FM teaching faculty interested in finding, evaluating and using open educational resources.

Faculty teaching English, psychology, human services, sociology, chemistry and business courses have transitioned their educational materials from a traditional textbook to open educational resources.

In addition to presenting a significantly lower cost to students (“affordable price”), open educational resources provide faculty members the ability to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute their course material using creative commons licenses.

Recognizing this growth and the deep knowledge base needed to build a firm foundation if scalability and sustainability were to occur, this fall the Evans Library began a shared service agreement with SUNY Geneseo’s Open SUNY Textbooks OER Services.

This partnership provides expertise in the curation of open educational resources, a web-based platform for teaching faculty to create their own content, and the ability for print copies of open materials to be available in the college store (“excellent education”).

Deep in the core of any library’s mission is a call to facilitate ways to share information and knowledge. The Evans Library’s new partnership with OST/OER aligns with that long-standing ethos and extends a 21st century vision of what thoughtful sharing fosters: collaboration and creation.

As librarians work hand-in-hand with teaching faculty to share information and access to open educational resources, collaborations develop around creating the best possible academic experience for all FM students.

Besides the question on FM’s website, the questions students and families often ask in the college search process are plentiful and rightly so: “Where is it located?” “How much is tuition?” “Is there financial aid available?” “What activities or student clubs can I join? “Can I live on-campus?”

One question that often goes unasked, even by me in my own college search, until prompted by my parents, is, “What does this college do to help students learn?” The answer should vary widely depending on the institution. At FM, with our promise to ensure that all students have the ability to benefit, the answer is, we are open to creating solutions.

Michael V. Daly is assistant professor, instruction and public services librarian at FMCC.

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