January Office Hours: OER Challenges Facing Newcomers

Published on January 31st, 2022

Estimated reading time for this article: 37 minutes.

Watch the video recording of this Office Hours session, or keep reading for a full transcript. For those interested in reading the conversation that took place among participants and the resources shared, the chat transcript is also available below.

Note: If your comments appear in the transcripts and you would like your name or other identifying information removed, please contact Tonia.

Audio Transcript

● Apurva Ashok (Director of Open Education, The Rebus Foundation)
● Karen Lauritsen (Publishing Director, Open Education Network)
● Gabby Hernandez (Open Education Librarian, University of Texas, Rio Grande)
● Shannon Smith (Open Educational Resources Librarian, Boise State University)
● Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey (Open Education Librarian, University of Arizona)

Apurva: Hello everybody, welcome to Office Hours. My name is Apurva Ashok, I am joining you all today from Toronto, from the traditional territories of many nations here, including the Mississaugas of the First Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples. I'm really grateful to be living here on this land, working here on this land. And kicking off what is I think maybe our fourth year of Office Hours and session number 51 in organization with the Open Education Network as well.

For those of you who may be joining us for the first time and you haven't heard about Rebus before, we are a Canadian charity that helps educational institutions build human capacity in open education, in OER publishing through things like professional development, free resources, discussion spaces and more. And Office Hours, as I mentioned are co-organized with the Open Education Network, so I'll hand it over to Karen to tell you a little bit about her, about the OEN, and about our topic for today.

Karen: Okay, thank you very much, Apurva. It is exciting to be starting another year of Office Hours with you and the Rebus Community. My name is Karen Lauritsen, I am publishing director with the Open Education Network or OEN for short. I’m joining you today from San Luis Obispo, California. And that is the traditional land of the Northern Chumash. And I'm especially grateful to them for all that they are teaching me about native plant uses.

As a gardener that has been a really exciting discovery. So today's format is as it always is with Office Hours, which is informal and driven by all of you. So we look forward to your questions, your concerns, your musings, please feel free to drop them in the chat or save them for the discussion. We'll briefly hear from our three guests today for a few minutes each and then talk informally.

So welcome. Today's topic is OER challenges facing newcomers. And we are joined by Gabby Hernandez, who is the Open Education Librarian at the University of Texas, Rio Grande. Shannon Smith, who is the Open Educational Resources Librarian at Boise State University. And Cheryl Casey, who is the Open Education Librarian at the University of Arizona. So to kick us off and get things started, I'm going to hand it over to Gabby.

Gabby: Hi everyone, thank you all so much for joining us today. I'm really excited to talk about my experiences with open education at UTRGV. We're situated in very, very south Texas on the border of Texas and Mexico. And I have been in my role as an open education librarian for two years. The first year was part time, so I was able to spend part time working as the OER librarian, and then one year and a little bit working as the open education librarian full time.

And in that time, there's been a lot. So I was the first person in my role at the university. And a lot of the things that we did is like original content building. So we had a very, very small structure in place from our scholarly communications librarian. And then over the last two years we've been able to build it out into quite a wonderful little program that we have here in south Texas.

But the way I got started was really taking advantage of all the amazing community opportunities that are out there. So I went through the SPARC Open Education leadership program curriculum, so the curriculum is free and online. So I did it by myself as my first step into what did I get into? What am I doing? How do I learn how to do this? And then, from there I also participated fully in the Open Education Network librarian certification in OER.

That was wonderful community building, the action plan that we created really helped me understand how do I build a program and sustain it and looking both at current things and future things. And then, just recently this past summer I felt like that next little step was the Creative Commons certificate for librarians. So that was kind of okay, now we're in the OER, faculty kind of know, and then we're taking those next steps and thinking about publishing.

And making sure I understand what I need for those things to be able to support my faculty. So that's really how I built my own professional development out so we could then support big grants, money grants. We just got Pressbooks, so now we're starting with publishing and things of that nature. And so really to let it be known and what I learned from the programs was just make faculty aware that we exist.

Faculty have really come, they're excited, they're interested, they hear OER and open educational resources. On my campus faculty are very, very interested in textbook affordability. But they didn't know that there was a whole dedicated person on campus to help support them. So a lot of my role has just been marketing myself and letting them know I am here, I am here for you.

This is my role. And finally, after a year part time and a year full time, the word is out and I have heard from other faculty that now faculty are talking about OER outside of me and my presentation. So it's great, the word is out, it's happened. And faculty are really, really starting to participate in all of our programs. And I guess I'll end my little session with one thing I didn't quite understand when I started was how much original content creation this position requires.

So creating websites, creating proposals, creating marketing flyers, creating databases to keep track of all of my contacts and ROI. So it takes a lot of imagination and a lot of okay, what are we going to do next? And then, how are we going to create it and doing all of those things? But thankfully, there is an entire community of people who are willing to share and help each other and that makes this journey all the better. So that's my little part, my little intro. And I will now pass it onto Shannon.

Shannon: Hi everyone, thanks for joining us today as well. So I've actually been sitting a lot with the idea of being a newcomer in open education. And I wanted to talk about this a little bit from a space of thinking about a professional identity. I've worked in supported OER initiatives as graduate student, library staff and tenure track faculty, now since 2017 and at three different institutions.

Which means from my perspective, I've been completely new to open education and motivated by own curiosity. I have been new to being faculty, I have been new to an institution or geographical region, and I've been new to a library. Different lenses for being a newcomer and certainly different battles for lack of a phrase I try not to use very often anymore impostor syndrome.

So it wasn't until I would say this past year when I was part of the SPARC Open Education leadership cohort that I started to see intersections between my own educational journey outside of libraries which has included being homeschooled, online learner, transfer student, non-traditional student. My time editing student zines as an undergrad, my work in project-based learning environments, being raised in rural communities, and then my work in open.

And then, finding these intersections in my own story has really grounded my understanding of how all these experiences inform and build upon each other to form both my why and my professional identity with this work. My path to open is its own unique story, just like every single one of us on this call has today. And am I newcomer? In some respects I think I will always be, because open education is constantly evolving and adapting.

And we were talking before everybody joined that that's just a really constant conversation in the field, I think. Am I an impostor? No. I have a history of experience with learning and information that was not explicitly labeled open. Do I have to remind myself of this regularly? Absolutely. I share this because I want to encourage you to unpack your own story a little. It is my belief that you'll find some meaningful learning experiences that intersect with your work in open as well.

Having a lens of a newcomer, I believe can be an asset to navigate your institutional context. It's proven to be that for me, as I employ both deep listening with campus stakeholders, faculty, students, colleagues, all the things Gabby was talking about. What do I need to build? It's a lens for viewing those resources that may or may not be available to your campus community or identifying gaps that need to be addressed.

And certainly, that messaging that may not be consistent across campus and marketing yourself. And in terms of working with campus stakeholders, I just want to say that newcomer lens, if something doesn't make sense to you, if you're coming into a program that's already been established somewhat, there is probably a reason it doesn't make sense to you, so don't be afraid to look at that closely.

The session description also talks about overwhelm. And yes, overwhelm is frequent for me. And like Gabby said, I want to remind you none of us need to reinvent the wheel completely. There are so many wonderful resources in this community to use or adapt, that's the work we do. If there's a particular OER initiative or resource you really admire that sparks something for you, I'd encourage you to email the folks working with that program.

Introduce yourself and ask questions you may have. I did this a lot initially and I still do. It's a practice that really helps me build the community. And for me especially in our pandemic world, reaching out when I just hit that wall and cannot get my brain out of the rabbit hole it might be in, it helps me mitigate overwhelm from isolation. We are all in this together, and the open education community does want to help you.

It's a very practical day-to-day practice for me, also when I get overwhelmed by that big picture thinking of campus wide OER work and what needs to happen to step back and focus on what I can do right now, today, that is progress. And that could be sending introduction emails, that marketing piece of I'm here. It could be watching a webinar or reading that article I left open in the endless tabs in all my windows.

I find it's important to make myself do that when I get overwhelmed so that I keep moving. Because all of those movements add up to that big picture. At some point you'll start to see it, I promise. And then, I'll hand it over to Cheryl.

Cheryl: Thank you, Shannon. So I'll say that I've been working in this space since 2014. But I still feel like a relative newcomer and I'm so happy to see some of my OER heroes here. Anita Walz was one of the first people I met at an OpenStax conference, I think 2013, '14. And Steven Bell from Temple is here, his work with alt text grants was some of the first that I looked at when we were looking at [Sedo] funding and encouraging.

And I'm an instructor with a certificate in OER librarianship and I'm glad that Gabby mentioned that as a resource for people for learning. And I also do trainings for new consortial members to the Open Education Network. And in doing those, I've learned that we're all facing super similar problems. And to me, that's really comforting, no matter how many years you're doing this, you're still dealing with the same problems as somebody who's brand new to it.

So things like trying to work with faculty, dealing with competition to OER from products like inclusive access, mistrust about the quality of OER, which sometimes comes from the vendors themselves or the publishers themselves. The time question is huge, especially with the certificate participants that we have. And it's been a big issue for me, too. Scope creep and I'll share one approach that I've found useful when my supervisor comes to me and wants to add another thing to my plate.

I'll say, "Great, okay. Now what can I give up? I'd like you to help me prioritize my work, if you want me to add something, then let's look at what low priority thing you think I can drop." And putting that back on my supervisor has helped to raise awareness of all that I'm being asked to do. Because a lot of OER is in your spare time, please run an OER program. It's not a spare time thing, it's two or three people could be full time working in this easily.

It's very, very time consuming, the learning curve is super steep. It intersects with so many different areas like copyright and fair use and the course materials markets. There's just a lot to keep up with. And I'll second what Gabby and Shannon have said about this being just a fabulous community and people being so willing to share and being so supportive and not needing to reinvent things because people are more than willing to share resources and help and assistance.

The conferences are great, the OEN is great, Rebus is a fabulous community. For those in community colleges, CCC OER is awesome, SPARC, lib OER list serve is an amazing resource. So there is lots of help out there, but for me as a fairly recent library school grad, it's a second career for me. I went to library school and finished in 2008. I didn't learn about any of this in library school. There was no mention of Creative Commons.

We didn't learn about copyright, we didn't learn about ebook licenses. It's all been really self-directed learning and really having to advocate for myself and for OER as a library priority. And going to my administrators and saying, "Look, the return on investment for the library to be involved in this is huge. We should be devoting personnel, we should be devoting money, time."

Because the impact on student success is enormous and we can advertise that to campus. But it's continuous advocacy when there are lots of shiny things that get library administrators' attention, bigger spaces, this, that. So to focus on OER is just continually advocating. And I've had to advocate for myself as well, to say, "Look, this needs to be a priority. I would really like the title of open education librarian."And fighting for yourself in that work. So that's my little spiel. And I'll pass things back to Apurva and Karen.

Apurva: Thank you so much, Cheryl, Shannon, and Gabby. I have a whole two pages of notes from all of your excellent suggestions and tips. I will say to everybody who is listening in this is really the time where we turn it over to all of you for your questions and comments. If you had your own experiences you wanted to share as either seasoned professionals in OER or forever newcomers as Shannon was describing.

I will invite you to post your questions or comments in the chat, if you wanted to. Or feel free to unmute your microphone and ask a question out loud. And in the meantime, maybe to kick us off, I can ponder over a few questions, but Karen, I might also give you an opportunity in case you had some brewing.

Karen: Sure, I can kick us off. So each of you in one way or another mentioned the need to market yourselves. And Shannon, you mentioned for example introductory emails, perhaps just hearing a little bit more about some of the marketing strategies that each of you have employed, what you might include in those emails. How you romance faculty, so to speak, into a conversation around OER.

Gabby: I guess I'll start us off. For me, a lot of it was I don't want to say easy, but we are one of the largest Hispanic serving institutes in the United States. So already we have a population that is desperately in need of affordability. We have a large amount of our students that are on Pell Grants. We are in a community of need. And thankfully our faculty understand that.

They understand that our students are in need, that they didn't quite have that bridge of like well, we know this, but I don't know what to do about it. Or there's nothing I can do about it. So once those emails started coming out that this is there, the library is offering this. It just started snowballing and faculty being very excited. Another thing that worked as a benefit was the fact that the pandemic hit at the same time I was hired.

So I think I only worked for like four months, and then it was like just kidding, we're going to be online. And it came at such a good time, because faculty were scrambling. I've never taught online, what do I do? My students don't have access, how do I get this? So people were flooding the library and we were like, "Open educational resources, they're here and available and there's somebody to support you in this."

So we really used that hand in hand. But it's also not working alone, so it's all about building communities. So I work very closely with we call it COLTT, center for online learning and teaching technology. They were having faculty blueprint their courses to go online. So every single faculty that was going through that, they said, "Hey open educational resource is a thing, the library can help you with that."

I also worked with our center for teaching excellence, which is our professional development resource for faculty so they can learn about teaching excellence. And I was like, "Can I do a three-month session?" And I started with OER 101 and then, okay, you kind of know about OER but how do you adopt it? And then I did another one that was okay, you know about it and how about open pedagogy and open licensing?

So I tiered it so faculty could drop into the session that was most relevant to them, and also for me to figure out what do my faculty need and what are my faculty the most interested? And oddly enough, they were all interested in open pedagogy and Creative Commons licensing, which I did not expect. I expected it to be all OER 101. So that also helped guide me to future professional development practices at my campus.

So it was doing a faculty survey without having to do a faculty survey. But those partnerships with other groups who already have the pulse on faculty was such a great help with getting the word out that I exist and I'm here for them as well and the library is here for you. So that's how we did it and I will share an infographic that I made for our faculty to make it appealing and appetizing about the services we provide.

Shannon: So for me, I would second everything Gabby said, it's working with those campus partners that already have the pulse. In my current role, the OER librarian position was brand new to Boise State but the work of OER had already been happening across campus. So I've been plugged into some of those spaces pretty quickly in terms of regular meetings with folk that want to talk about OER.

In terms of like our ecampus center, they have for faculty that are revamping their online courses, it's part of their questionnaire are they interested in OER? And so if they check yes, then I have an email that I send saying, "Please reach out to me, this is what OER is. I'm happy to help." And there's a variance of support that the faculty do or don't ask for, like anything it's hit or miss.

And because they had run a grant cycle in I believe 2019, those were emails that I targeted as an outreach opportunity to let faculty that I knew were really engaged with OER already on campus know that I'm here. So that was a self-identified thing that just every opportunity I can think of where those folks exist, I'm here. And then, I did take the time in starting my new position too to setup meetings with people that were really active in the OER program whether that was internal to the library or external.

And then, I would say my previous role I was doing OER support as part of my scholarly communication librarian role. And so, a lot of times in that position it was being aware of moments where faculty were really coming to me for something else. And being aware of an opportunity to ask a question. So maybe they came to me because they just want to share their thing in IR.

And I started to realize I was seeing a set of things. And so, then being willing to pause and say, "Have you considered licensing these so that they can be OERs, is that something you're interested in?" And most of the time faculty would say yes. And so I think that's an interesting space to think about marketing and outreach to and maybe even having those conversations, I know a lot of us aren't full time OER dedicated positions.

So having those conversations with your partners in the library and spaces like that to what can we be listening for to help build those questions for faculty? Because they might not even be thinking of something as OER, that's really just a flip of a license, if they're willing to share it openly already. And then, I would say in the directed fieldwork experience I mentioned, and I have a chapter on that I can put in the chat, too.

That was a brand new program that I was part of helping launch. And we took a very dedicated approach to marketing. So we knew what was coming, we had the time to lay some foundation for ourselves. And then, we spent a whole semester I was the tagalong. There was the two faculty librarians that really did the bulk of the work. And we were doing presentations like I would say once a week approximately for a semester.

And it was trying to find spaces where faculty already exist. So maybe it's a departmental brown bag, it's a departmental meeting and we just need five or 10 minutes to let you know we're doing a thing, and we want to help you. Because it's easier to get in those spaces where you're not adding a meeting to faculty time of the time in my experience than it is to try to build something new in a lot of ways, too.

And I would agree with Gabby, I think the pandemic has really shifted this conversation and highlighted that OER is doing something that other learning materials aren't right now.

Cheryl: I wholeheartedly agree with Shannon's suggestion to go to department meetings and plug into when faculty are already meeting. I've had far more luck with that than holding a workshop and hoping that faculty can make time to attend. The other approach that I've tried that I've been successful with is forming a faculty, well we call it a professional learning community.

Because we want it to be more than faculty for instructional designers and program managers having that regular time to meet and form a community of practice has been good too. And we've plugged into an existing system for faculty learning communities to offer that. As far as other ways to reach faculty, I've found it helpful to join targeted and strategic campus groups.

I'm a faculty senator, and I co-lead our taskforce on student success and so being connected with various campus partners who are working on affordability and basic needs issues has been useful. For example, when there was a push by our administrators to outsource our campus bookstore, as a campus senator I was able to quickly get on the faculty senate agenda with our bookstore and do a presentation on why this is a terrible idea.

And so far we've been able to fight it back. But having access to audiences where administrators and faculty who are movers and shakers can be useful. I've joined groups with instructional designers and participated in other learning communities where faculty are engaged and that's been a good way to make contacts and you get invited to other department meetings or other colleges to do presentations once word spreads.

I'll say that the other approach that I've taken, that I've found useful is to treat OER as one tool in our toolbox. And I like to start there because it's free, offers perpetual access, and it's customizable. But it doesn't work in all cases. And so, next we look at what library license resources that are also free we could use. And I really have to credit Steven Bell for this term a spectrum of affordability.

And I've started using that and framing that with faculty and administrators and it seems to help. Let's start with OER, then let's look at other free to use resources we can use from the library. And then, if we exhaust all of the free to use approaches, then let's look at inclusive access. And I do not demonize inclusive access, it's very widely used on my campus. And so, I present the pros and cons to it to faculty but it's a fact of life for me that our bookstore is campus owned.

They're a fabulous partner, I think they practice inclusive access very well in a student friendly way. And they avoid some of the pitfalls that we can see with inclusive access. But treating that as a tool in our toolbox I think has been helpful. So if a faculty member comes to me and says, "I want the library to buy this ebook." This happened this morning with the dean.

And I said, "I'm sorry, the publisher doesn't allow us to buy that license, and that happens 80% of the time or more. They just find it more profitable to sell, so let's look at other options." And being able to help faculty with a range of options rather than just saying, "No, sorry, there's no OER in that subject" has been helpful because it opens the door. And I share that OER is being released all the time. I direct them to the Open Textbook Library and Karen, is it over 1,000 titles yet?

Karen: Almost. We're on the edge of our seat.

Cheryl: So close. So close. The Pressbooks directory has been another place that I direct faculty because we have Pressbooks and we can customize the content for a U of A audience. So offering them a range of options that makes them feel very empowered, letting them know that they are the subject matter experts. I can point them to options, but it's really up to them to select what's best for their sequence, their teaching objectives.

And so, I'm a partner. I try not to make quality judgements on their behalf. They're best equipped to do that, I can point them to reviews in the Open Textbook Library or other resources. But I try not to say, "This is really high quality." So those are just some tips that I've found in working with faculty and administrators.

Apurva: Thank you so much Cheryl, Shannon, and Gabby. Again, if folks have any questions, feel free to jump in in the chat or unmute your mic and ask. Something that I have been struck by because I'm seeing a theme across all three of your sections today about perhaps starting out as maybe the only person doing OER or thinking about OER open education on your campus and that too as the chat has been saying as well in a part time capacity.

Gabby, when you are describing your program and how much it has grown over the past two years, it sounded like you're also wearing so many different hats. Shannon, you talked about the different professional identities that you've had to work through and think about the intersections around. And Cheryl, you talked about OER heroes. And I am just curious as someone who might be perhaps in a part time position, working on OER or tasked with the OER problem or the OER initiative.

How would you suggest someone pause and sort of focus on the day? Focus on the place to start? Because it can be overwhelming to look around and to see everything from learning all the terms like inclusive access and the rest. To doing all of the various professional development opportunities or speaking to all of the stakeholders. What would the three of you would say would be the best place for someone in that position with limited time begin? 

Gabby: I will say that number one is be kind to yourself. There are so many exciting things and then you start like, "I want a grant program, I want this opportunity and I want this, and I want this." And then, you look at these other universities that have these amazing programs and then here you are, it's a piece of your job or you're only working part time. So one realize some of these colleges that you're seeing all of these savings have huge capacities.

Multiple people working on it, and it's not one lone little OER librarian who it's a part of. So for me, what really helped was I spent the first couple of months, and I was lucky, I don't know if everyone has this opportunity. But I really spent those first couple of months building my knowledge, so I could feel comfortable answering the questions. And also, building a lib guide or a website or anything so that way once you so start having faculty questions, you have a good place to send them.

So that was my focus, I was like, "I don't want faculty to start asking me all these questions, and then I don't have a resource for them to use." So that's how I started. I said, "Okay, I'm going to learn the things, I'm going to put them all in a resource, so then I can start my advocacy and presentations and starting getting my name out there." I didn't want it to catch wildfire, and everybody knows there's an open education librarian, but I didn't have any resources to direct faculty to.

So that's how I started. We already had a grant program in place that our scholarly communications librarian was running. So I didn't really have to focus on that, we didn't have a lib guide, we didn't have resources. Our attendance to our presentations were very, very low as in zero, which is also okay. It happens to all of us. And a piece of advice that I just reiterated is that it can be extremely intimidating being a part time person who is, and for me I was an elementary educator.

So I had never worked in an academic library. This was my first professional library job. It was extremely intimidating thinking about I'm going to get in front of an audience, they all have doctorates, they're all extremely educated people. And here I am, fresh out of my master's and I'm going to be an expert in this field. But then, I had to go back and tell myself I did put in the time, I put in the hours to learn this.

I may not have a doctorate in mathematics, but I do have the education about OER. And so, in that room, in that moment you are the expert and that's okay, too. Speaking to all of these people that are highly educated, so I gave that so that was my little mantra. You are the expert and it's okay and if I don't know the answer, again, there's a gigantic community that will help me find the answer with no shame attached to it.

So that's how I started. I started let me educate myself, let me build a website, something so faculty can go to and refer to. And then, start really spreading the word that we are here to help. So that's how we started.

Shannon: I think I'd like to add onto Gabby's comments about being an expert in that space, too. That in my experience, a lot of those spaces that I'm in with faculty, they may be newcomers way more than you are. They might be asking you things and not have the understanding of something with what is OER. I had a question recently on can I still use references, like I normally would?

So there is some hesitation on what it means to share openly, I think, even though faculty want to do those things. So in that space I really come from a we're in this together, we're learning together. And that helps me I think center myself in that whole conversation. They are always the subject expert when I'm having those conversations with certain departments.

But that we can have the conversation on what barrier they might be facing in their head around something, or where they're stuck. And those questions form over time, and I completely agree with Gabby. You're not going to know until you work for a while. So start small, with a lib guide or a Google Doc, whatever you have at your disposal. It doesn't have to be anything fancy.

And I think a lot of times that really surprises faculty too when I talk about publishing content. You don't have to have Pressbooks. If you want to put it in a Word document, and I put it in an institutional repository with the right license, it's OER. And you get this lightbulb moment from faculty of oh I don't have to know all these things. And so, I think that's why I wanted to talk about the different layers of newcomer because it's coming from multiple spaces.

It's not just us, but the faculty as well. But yeah, I completely agree, start small, think about what your definition of these things in terms of affordability is as an institution, I find it helpful for myself to have those conversations with my supervisors, with my library. Where are we in certain conversations? What do we have the capacity for in terms of collection budgets and other things?

And try to be cognizant of that and build some boundaries for yourself early on, and let it grow rather than trying to do everything I think and then coming back, which I've also done, why did I do that? So I don't know if that's helpful, but that's the space I would come at it from.

Cheryl: Yeah, when I was starting out and I was a liaison librarian who was also the OER coordinator. So it was very part time. I focused on adoptions rather than adaptations or OER creation. We are just barely getting into OER creation. We launched Pressbooks a couple of years ago, but we launched it as a self-service tool. And I loaded it up with resources on here's how you can teach yourself to use Pressbooks, because I don't have the bandwidth to do anything more than a learning community, really to help you.

Our OER webpages are very self-service oriented as well. We've got the search box for Oasis, which SUNY provides the code for. You can add that to your own lib guide or webpages. If you see anything on my webpages that you want to adapt, go for it. I've had people contact me and say, "Can I just copy?" "Yes, please. Don't reinvent the wheel." I link out to other people's far superior lib guides on OER.

Anita's for veterinary medicine, we have adapted so much, our liaison for vet med uses that all the time to add to her veterinary medicine because it stays on top of what's available free. So yeah, use what other people have already created. I started as far as adoptions with OpenStax content and targeting professors who were teaching subjects that the OpenStax content applied to.

And just saying, "Hey did you know that there are all of these free textbooks available with free instructor resources and free student resources? And if you want low-cost courseware, that's available too." And that addressed some of the concerns about there's not a textbook for me or I want the courseware, I want the self quizzing. Great, it's available. So starting there and really focusing on pilots.

Pilots seem less intimidating to all of us because if it flops, that's fine, only a few of us knew about it. We were piloting it. You learn from it, and you move on. It also seems to have a less heavy list for an instructor than oh my gosh, I have to convert my entire syllabus to this new textbook. No, just add an existing OER to pilot with your students, see if they like it. And if they do, great, incorporate more of it next semester.

So trying to find ways to ease into OER from our standpoint and faculty's standpoint, we are still in a soft rollout of Pressbooks since summer 2019 or '20. We still haven't heavily advertised it because I just don't have the bandwidth to support. So I work with the people who are really excited about it and that's plenty to keep me busy. So don't feel like you have to reach everybody or convince everybody.

There are faculty that I am never going to convince to switch to OER. That's okay, I don't have the capacity to deal with every faculty member on our campus. So find those who are really excited and can be faculty champions on your campus, and work with them and they'll spread the word to other faculty. So that's how you can start slow and build in a sustainable way.

Karen: Thank you all so much for sharing your strategies. We're having a few questions coming in now as we're rounding out the three-quarter mark of our time together. So let's start with Melanie, who is also appreciative of everyone's advice. Melanie is a newcomer in another sense, she's a grad assistant in OER starting to look at post MLIS opportunities. Do any of you have recommendations for someone coming into the job market with an interest and background in OER and publishing? She's a former newspaper editor.

Cheryl: I'm a former copyeditor of newspapers too. So this is a such a great integration of those skills. Yeah, oh my gosh, so many intersections, and you will find loads of opportunities to put those skills to work. I have volunteered as a copyeditor on the starter kit, working with Apurva and Avi on that. So the Rebus Community is continually offering opportunities to help out with projects. And I've found that those skills in copyediting are really highly desired in libraries. Yeah, it's a fantastic combination.

Apurva: Gabby or Shannon, did you have any recommendations for Melanie about where to keep an eye out, as they near graduation. I don't know your pronouns Melanie.

Shannon: I think keeping an eye on Live OER which is SPARC's email list serve would be a good one. I've been seeing more and more positions that are maybe project managers or things like that, not necessarily even housed within libraries that might be a great fit for that skillset and a passion for this work, too.

And I would just encourage you when I was first entering the job market for these kinds of positions, really having some online links and resources to the work you're doing now as a graduate assistant to highlight. I helped support this so that you can really show that work in your applications I think is really useful.

Gabby: Yeah, and I will also add that multiple, there's CCC OER, OE Global, there's an entire list of list serves, and there's always jobs. I don't know. Off the top of my head I know there's one in Corpus Christi, right around the corner from me in Texas, who's looking for an open education librarian. So just keep your eye out. I see the jobs pop up regularly on the list serves, so being a part of that community would be I think very helpful. And that you have this background in editing is just a step above getting started in this area.

Melanie: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. Looking forward to learning more.

Apurva: And I'm just looking through the chat, and it sounds like we have another question from Steven here. Gabby and Shannon, how did you engage your fellow librarians in the OER initiative? And did either of you feel pressure as newcomers, we're calling it, to take on the bulk of that OER outreach or engagement work on your own?

Gabby: I know on my campus, we don't have how do you call the subject librarians? We just order, so there's nobody who is a liaison to departments. So I came in with the understanding that yeah, this was 100% on me. But we do have a fairly large research and instruction department, which is our largest department. So slowly but surely, I'm engaging the research and instruction librarians and teaching them the basics of OER.

So that way they can field those entry level questions, like they're interested in OER. I did a training on here's a question you might get or this is how it relates to your job and how you can then transition the conversation OER. They love their textbook, but they're unhappy with the price, what can you do? And encourage them to look into a library license material. Or they absolutely hate their textbook, what can you do? Talk to them about OER.

So I gave them that scenario-based questions, so that way when they're in their research and instruction role and it was like, "Listen for these key terms to help me." And then, if they also field the incoming questions, so it's like we built the lib guide and OER by subject guide. So giving them the capacity to say, "These are the steps you should do first before you send them to me."

And then, I did another interactive, if somebody's asking about redesigning their course, who do you send that to? Me. If somebody's asking for an OER of an entry level course, what do you do? Look at the lib guide and go to OpenStax and see if you can give that information. So that's how I've started to hand off some of that lower-level entry level questions to other departments, so that way we can focus more on our Pressbooks and those higher level activities.

Shannon: I would say I've taken different approaches depending on the scenario. I often CC subject librarians when I'm interacting with their faculty or students. If I know what department somebody is in and they reach out and ask a question, even if I'm handling the entirety of everything, I'll often CC the subject librarian just to try to help build some of that these are the kinds of questions I'm seeing.

Or your faculty are interested, which has proven really useful. Because what I see sometimes when I get a referral hand off, then is I build in language that I use or the ways that I describe things being repurposed. And so, I think that's a way that I try to build that knowledge and comfort very slowly and at the level that subject librarians that I work with are interested in.

And I say that because I think it was Cheryl, you were talking about I maybe focused more on those that are excited. And I think that goes for my colleagues, too. There's often colleagues that are really excited and want to help you and will seek that out. And so then I may be more empowering of here's some stuff, I'm happy for you to do things. And with those that I'm not sure where they stand or maybe there's more hesitancy, I just want to include them in the process.

So they don't feel like I'm talking with their faculty without them part of that process. And so, if there's a thing that I don't want to speak to because it's a multi-layered question and part of it may be really falls back in that subject librarian space that I bring them into that. So that's really how I approach it, predominantly at this point. And I would say your subject librarians are the focused approach to get into those departmental meetings to get into email blips that go out when they send out at the beginning of a semester or the end of the semester.

I've sometimes used emails to subject librarians in advance of textbook deadlines. If you have time or you're sending an email, please remind faculty that this is the time to think about adopting OER. I've taken that approach, I've also what Gabby was talking about built some if you get a question about CC licenses, here's a great link. If you get this kind of a question, please use this just so that it's at their hands and they're not having to think about it quite so much.

Apurva: Thank you, Shannon. And you just a little bit of Jody's question on when you're doing some of that faculty outreach or marketing perhaps at departmental meetings and you offered some really great advice about coordinating and collaborating with subject or liaison librarians, so that you don't end up having battles about each other's turf or areas of expertise. Cheryl, it seemed like you also had something to add to that question. So I'll invite you to share your thoughts.

Cheryl: Sure, yeah. I have run into that with a few liaisons where they don't want me to contact their faculty. And I find that kind of gatekeeping not good for the library. And ideally, that's something that the administration will squash. But you may run into that. I've tried to do training for all of our liaisons, offer templates for them as was suggested. Definitely CCing them on all messaging.

Where I find that sometimes liaison's feelings get hurt is when faculty reach out to me before they reach out to the liaison. It's a process, I just keep CCing the liaison and explain that we're working on this together, and whoever can help them that's what our goal is to help the faculty member. So yeah, some of those hurt feelings and turf can come into play, but just keeping those lines of communication open and stressing that our goal is to help faculty and students.

This shouldn't be about turf, this shouldn't be about who they contact first, it's just about helping faculty and students. But really working hard with the liaisons and inviting them to all of the events, all of the online meetings and making sure that they feel included.

Apurva: Thanks, Cheryl and I'm seeing in the chat a question that has been answered to some degree by participants and some of you, speakers. One from Katie. Katie wants your thoughts about bringing the bookstore into the conversation. And it seems at their institution the manager at the bookstore doesn't seem to be very receptive to working together. Do any of you three have suggestions?

Cheryl: We've worked for many years to establish a really good relationship with our bookstore. It takes time, we started with a pilot project together that really built bonds and overcame some previous mistrust between the library and the bookstore that existed before I even started work there. Our bookstore doesn't make most of its money from textbooks. So for them, and we're campus owned, so that does make a difference whether it's campus owned or corporate.

But I know there are corporate bookstores that have been cooperative, so if you have any kind of campus wide taskforce or group that's working on affordability issues, looping the bookstore in as a member is really helpful. I would invite them to workshops, because they were fearful about the information I was sharing with faculty. And once they saw that I was including them as a partner and saying how great they were, and that faculty need to report their textbook adoptions and work with them.

That eased their fears about what was being shared with faculty. So yeah, it's possible to develop a really strong partnership with your bookstore, it just takes time.

Shannon: I think I would really add to that that it's so variable in my experience, depending on the messaging that the bookstore or campus store is getting from administration or whoever their supervisors are. Whether they have teeth in the game, in terms of making a profit very heavily in that way or whether they don't. I've worked in both scenarios, and I've had bookstores that are very like what can we do to help?

We love that you're doing this. And then, others that maybe are a little more concerned and in that space, I've had the best luck with really thinking through ways that maybe asking can I build in some OER definitions in the tools that you share with faculty. So it's a little clearer what these things mean as they're making choices in the adoption tools and things like that. That's not a great answer, but it does take time and it's so institution dependent in my experience.

Karen: Thank you so much for all of your questions and engagement in the chat from both newcomers and more experienced participants alike. We are at the end of our time together, so please join me as you already are doing in thanking our guests, Cheryl, Shannon, and Gabby for sharing some strategies for being a newcomer, an eternal newcomer perhaps. So on behalf of the Open Education Network and the Rebus Community, we will sign off until we see you next month, at another Office Hours. Until then, farewell. 


Chat Transcript

00:23:06 Karen Lauritsen: Here’s more about the Certification in OER Librarianship: https://open.umn.edu/oen/oercert
00:23:09 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: Action Plan templates (Certificate in OER Librarianship), https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vhcdz6-HwNZN7t8Ka5u5HIun_H13_-LBjafC5UXDcrk/edit
00:24:07 Anita Walz: Yay!!
00:29:09 Anita Walz: Completely agree about always asking when something doesn't make sense.
00:30:52 Gabby Hernandez: Yes Shannon to the endless tabs of articles I want to read!
00:31:07 Shannon Smith: At least we aren't alone, Gabby!
00:31:23 Gabby Hernandez: In the world of open never :)
00:31:43 Shannon Smith: Agree, Cheryl!
00:32:33 Shannon Smith: Great newer resource for inclusive access: https://www.inclusiveaccess.org/
00:33:00 Anne Marie Gruber (she/her/hers): PREACH
00:33:46 Karen Lauritsen: As Cheryl wraps up our guests’ stories, please consider what questions you’d like to ask or issues you’d like to discuss when we turn to you for conversation.
00:35:14 Shannon Smith: For me in library school (I graduated in 2019), it was a topic in only two courses: collection development and academic librarianship. I ended up setting up a directed fieldwork experience in order to spend more time with it.
00:36:20 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: Keep an eye out for the upcoming "OER Starter Kit for Program Managers"!
00:36:33 Jody Bailey: ??
00:36:39 Stephanie Western: So excited for that kit!
00:36:40 Apurva Ashok: https://www1.rebus.community/#/project/184b2d08-16ad-421a-829c-58c2a8e3942e
00:36:41 Gabby Hernandez: Yes Cheryl I can't wait to read that!
00:39:38 Anita Walz: I love that so many of the OER librarian positions are full time (or at least have moved that way.) So important to have bandwidth to build out your programs.
00:39:45 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: I've compiled an OER Toolkit that you're welcome to adapt: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kQdhTy8WMjoAD2SqKuB_quSZwkfwVKHm/edit
00:40:29 Stephanie Western: Thanks Gabby!
00:41:51 Gabby Hernandez: Here is my faculty flyer for more information our Textbook Affordability Project services. It's a template so feel free to use! https://www.canva.com/design/DAEr946z-nQ/N8glz-Hn5O7GoNZDDXlXKQ/view?utm_content=DAEr946z-nQ&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=sharebutton&mode=preview
00:42:12 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: We use a Check for Ebook Availability form, which can lead to OER help: https://new.library.arizona.edu/request/ebook-availability
00:43:26 Apurva Ashok: I really appreciate this bridging approach that Shannon is describing!
00:43:56 Stephanie Western: That's what I'm seeing as well, instructors who have basically created OER but don't realize it!
00:45:55 Shannon Smith: Make friends with your instructional designers for sure!
00:46:44 Gabby Hernandez: Learning Communities are the next on my list of things to do. I really want to start them on my campus.
00:46:51 Shannon Smith: Here's the book chapter I mentioned - there's a small section on marketing approach for a brand new program. https://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/lib_facpubs/160/
00:49:19 Karen Lauritsen: Gabby, all, Cheryl speaks about learning communities related to OER publishing in this video: https://youtu.be/TtFhJPR41QE
00:50:18 Gabby Hernandez: Thank you Karen!
00:50:29 Apurva Ashok: The Open Textbook Library: https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks & Pressbooks Directory: https://pressbooks.directory/
00:51:04 Shannon Smith: Another awareness/marketing space I take is encouraging faculty to be transparent on their syllabus and with their students they are using OER. and why. For students, it's often just a link and they don't realize their instructors are making that choice for affordability.
00:51:30 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: And encouraging students to praise faculty for using OER in faculty reviews
00:52:23 Shannon Smith: +1
00:55:33 Anita Walz: +1, Gabby on spending time building your own knowledge and acknowledging that "you are the expert" on this topic.
00:56:00 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: And it's OK to say "I don't know the answer to that, but I'll look into it for you"
00:56:48 Melanie Smith (she/her): In every context, yes!
00:57:00 Melanie Smith (she/her): Thanks for all this wonderful advice, everyone. I’m a newcomer in another sense — a grad assistant in OER starting to look at post-MLIS opportunities. Do any of you have recommendations for someone coming into the job market with an interest and background in OER and publishing (former newspaper editor)?
00:57:27 Gabby Hernandez: Yes! Learning together with faculty throughout the process is so wonderful!
00:58:14 Gabby Hernandez: In my experience faculty have been very kind to learn tougher through this open journey.
00:58:21 Steven J. Bell: How did Gabby and Shannon engage their fellow librarians in the OER initiative? Did they feel pressure, as newcomers, to take on the bulk of the OER outreach/engagement work on their own?
00:59:16 Shannon Smith: Absolutely, Cheryl!
01:00:07 Gabby Hernandez: That is 100% what our new publishing model looks like! We also do not have the capacity to support faculty throughout the entire process.
01:00:09 Anita Walz: Oh, that's great, Cheryl! I'll add the URL
01:00:12 Apurva Ashok: Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS): https://oasis.geneseo.edu/
01:00:25 Shannon Smith: I link out to this a lot as well: https://iastate.pressbooks.pub/oerstarterkit/
01:00:33 Anita Walz: Vet Med OER (and some other free things) https://guides.lib.vt.edu/oer/vetmed
01:00:41 Jody Bailey: Re: meeting faculty where they are (at departmental faculty meetings) and other faculty outreach/marketing, what is your advice about handling subject/liaison librarians' impulse to protect "their turf"?
01:01:16 Karen Lauritsen: I heart pilots
01:01:43 Anita Walz: +1, Karen
01:01:51 Shannon Smith: Or flip one assignment to open pedagogy - not necessarily the whole class and see what they think of the outcomes!
01:02:04 Apurva Ashok: I find my approach to open can be described as “experimental and forgiving”
01:02:15 Shannon Smith: I love that, Apurva.
01:02:43 Gabby Hernandez: Yes sustainable is key!
01:04:26 Apurva Ashok: LibOER: https://oerdigest.org/
01:05:17 Lauren Ray: I’m so lucky to have Melanie working with me as our first Open Education Grad Assistant at the UW.  She has moved our OER program forward in ways I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own.
01:05:26 Apurva Ashok: CCCOER Community Email: https://www.cccoer.org/community-email/
01:05:35 Apurva Ashok: Hear hear, Lauren!
01:06:03 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: @Melanie: Your skill in making content more understandable will be highly sought-after in web content work too (I do that too)
01:06:55 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: @Jody: Turf issues are real! I'd be happy to talk about that
01:07:33 Apurva Ashok: We’re coming to that question, Jody! Stay tuned…
01:08:38 Katie Beth Ryan (she/her): Thoughts about bringing the bookstore into the conversation? The manager does not seem to be receptive to working together.
01:08:57 Lauren Ray: That’s super useful to hear Gabby. I just did workshops with our subject librarians to re-up their familiarity with OER search tools but I love the idea of planting “questions you might get from faculty” with useful OER answers/solutions.
01:09:14 Anita Walz: @Jody, I usually invite liaison librarians to be as involved as they want to be. We have a shared understanding as well that any time I communicate with someone in their department I will copy them or let them know. It's not been a problem -- it's been more of a problem to try to get them engaged because everyone is so stretched with their existing work.
01:09:15 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: @Katie - keep trying! Invite them to events, suggest a joint project or presentation.
01:10:23 Anita Walz: @Katie +1 Cheryl -- I proposed a "learning exchange" where we met a few times over a semester to talk about what our respective work is and try to look for shared goals and opportunities to collaborate.
01:11:22 Jody Bailey: Great responses! And I agree that including subject librarians in email comms is effective, but when you're asking to speak at a faculty meeting, and subject libs may have a problem getting in front of their own faculty at a meeting -- this can be tricky.
01:12:11 Steven J. Bell: Thanks for your responses to my question. Sounds like you are navigating this well.
01:12:29 Gabby Hernandez: @Katie I am so sorry to hear this. We have been very lucky to have a cooperative bookstore. I make sure to share as much as I can with them to know we are partners and it's not a one sided relationship. I share any textbook adoption data that comes our way which they are always looking for.
01:14:27 Steven J. Bell: We are sending our first liaison librarian (someone not active in our OER initiatives) to the OEN open textbook librarian program. Hoping that over time every liaison librarian will be able to attend.
01:15:00 Jody Bailey: That's great, Steven!
01:15:02 Gabby Hernandez: @Lauren I have had multiple information session with our R&I team which were not very successful so I flipped the classroom and made things super interactive and it seemed to stick. I wanted to draw clear lines on what they could do to help and what I do.
01:15:24 Stephanie Western: I need to sign off, thank you so much to everyone for sharing! I'm only 3 months into this role and I appreciate the generosity and enthusiasm of this community as I find my feet!
01:15:57 Jody Bailey: I also need to head out -- thanks for a great conversation!
01:16:06 Jody Bailey: ????????
01:16:14 Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey | she/her: Thanks for coming!
01:16:19 Apurva Ashok: Thank you!
01:16:22 Lauren Ray: Thanks @Gabby!  I do some interactive stuff with our librarians in my workshops (quizzing them around OER/OA differences and having them search and share in OER databases and those interactive parts are always the most successful.
01:16:32 Katie Beth Ryan (she/her): Thanks, these are helpful!
01:16:52 Gabby Hernandez: @Lauren feel free to email me and I will share my questions! gabrielle.hernandez@utrgv.edu
01:16:54 Apurva Ashok: A big thank you to everyone, and especially Gabby, Shannon, and Cheryl!
01:17:08 Steven J. Bell: Thanks for organizing this and thanks to the speakers

Share this post: