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Sarah Hutton presenting at Creative Commons Global Summit. Photo courtesy of Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC BY 2.0.

UMass Amherst Libraries’ Sarah Hutton, head of undergraduate teaching and learning, and Lisa Di Valentino, law and public policy librarian, recently presented at the 2019 Creative Commons Global Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, where nearly 400 attendees gathered to discuss ways to make knowledge sharing more open and accessible.

Their topic, “Students’ Perception of Their Self-Efficacy in the Creation of Open Access Digital Learning Objects,” explored what students in Associate Professor Paul Musgrave’s Experimental Honors Course, Politics at the End of the World (POLSCI 390EW), thought about their own abilities to complete the class’s final group projects. Students were asked to create podcasts discussing political considerations in various “end of the world” scenarios, with the understanding that the projects would be made freely available online, including to students taking this course in the future.

“When you think about what typically motivates students to learn, grades are a common or typical concern,” says Hutton. “We wanted to look at other areas for motivation, such as knowing that their scholarship would be used to teach future students, that it would be freely available to scholars across the globe, and that other scholars could use and adapt it.”

Upon surveying the class, Hutton and Di Valentino discovered that, with those added factors propelling their work, students had “greater than 70 percent confidence in their capabilities across all categories,” including identifying key course concepts and applying them to their own research and conclusions.

Hutton, who learned about the course through the Commonwealth Honors College Curriculum Council, and Di Valentino were drawn to this project as an opportunity for the Libraries to work with, and learn from, Musgrave’s students. “This assignment clearly aligned with several facets of collaboration within the Libraries,” Hutton explains, “including digital media production for which we provide support in the Libraries’ Digital Media Lab; our advocacy for open access publishing, creative commons licensing; and teaching students about the importance of understanding their role in the global scholarship landscape.” Additionally, with her subject specialization in public policy, government, and legal studies, Di Valentino provided key instruction and support regarding attribution licensing and open scholarship tailored to the discipline of the course.

“The ultimate goal,” Di Valentino says, “is to support students both as learners and scholars.”

Final projects are available here for listening.

 

 Adam Quirós, Digital Media Lab Desk Supervisor at the UMass Amherst Libraries, recently won two Telly Awards for his films: gold in general-promotional for Profile of a Brewer: Wunderkammer Bier and bronze in craft-promotional for Making the Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot.

Since 1979, the Telly Awards have honored "excellence in local, regional and cable television commercials with non-broadcast video and television programming added soon after. With the recent evolution and rise of digital video (web series, VR, 360 and beyond), the Telly Awards today also reflects and celebrates this exciting new era of the moving image on and offline.

The Telly Awards annually showcases the best work created within television and across video, for all screens. Receiving over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents, Telly Award winners represent work from some of the most respected advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers from around the world."

The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of the 2019 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Ten UMass Amherst faculty members received funding for projects to revise or create open educational resources, or OER, defined as teaching materials released with open licenses that allow authors to retain the copyright to their work, while simultaneously granting others permission to revise, remix, and share it.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER
  • Provide support to faculty to implement these approaches
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction 

Thanks to generous funding from the UMass Amherst Libraries and Office of the Provost, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus, including Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, Music and Dance, who plans to create an openly-licensed hybrid text/workbook for saxophone technique; Danielle Thomas, Spanish, who is compiling 10 years’ worth of teaching materials into an Advanced Spanish Grammar textbook; and Torrey Trust, Education, who will co-author a textbook with her Teaching and Learning with Technology (EDU 593A) students. Full list of winners here.

“We are seeing more faculty creating customizable teaching tools that are free for students and can also improve how students learn,” said Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Open Education & Research Services Librarian; “by utilizing or creating openly licensed teaching materials, instructors are removing a barrier to student success that high-cost textbooks often create.” OER are not appropriate for every class, but “as the number of newly-created OER has drastically increased over the past three years in a wide range of topics, it has become easier to find and customize material for common college courses,” adds Smith.

Now in its tenth cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of over $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize OER or free Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD), Instructional Innovation, and Provost’s Office to support these efforts.

UMass Amherst Libraries Support UC System’s Termination of Elsevier Contract

The UMass Amherst Libraries support the University of California (UC), as well as MIT, Temple University, Florida State University, and other U.S. and European universities who are working on transforming the way libraries license and provide access to scholarly content. We particularly applaud our colleagues in California who dared to take a strong stance in moving toward a more sustainable future. Our Libraries are joining others in stating support: University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Minnesota.

The UC system terminated license negotiations with Elsevier earlier this year over an inability to come to consensus over a transformative agreement that would control runaway journal costs, favor Open Access, and benefit university faculty authors. UC developed a cost-neutral approach to moving journal licensing to a more sustainable, accessible, and open model. In February, after determining that they would not be able to reach an agreement with Elsevier, UC terminated license negotiations. In doing so, UC established a service continuity plan so that faculty, students, and researchers will still be able to obtain journal articles once they lose access to the over 2,500 journals that Elsevier publishes. 

Elsevier is the world’s largest scholarly publisher, reporting annual profit margins between 30 and 40 percent. Journal subscription costs have seen enormous increases over the last 20 years, significantly outpacing the growth in university library budgets. Libraries worldwide are looking for ways to reform the current scholarly publishing system in order to sustain future access to scholarly research outputs.

The UMass Amherst Libraries have a UMass system-wide license to Elsevier journals which will be up for renewal at the end of 2022. UMass librarians are working together to determine next steps in light of ongoing changes in the scholarly publishing landscape. Recent developments, like UC’s termination of negotiations with Elsevier, provide an opportunity for our libraries to reimagine the future. As mindful stewards of the financial resources that the University and State provide to the Libraries, we will seek innovative and creative ways to provide access to needed resources in the most affordable and accessible way possible.

Endorsed May 2, 2019 by the University Libraries Administration Team: Simon Neame, Dean of Libraries; Steve Bischof, Associate Dean for Library Technology; Leslie Button, Associate Dean for Research and Learning; Terry Carroll, Director for Administrative Services; Sally Krash, Associate Dean for Content and Discovery

Has the blockbuster of the decade inspired you to read some of the source material? We've got you covered!

See where it all began in the Libraries' new volumes of Marvel comics, part of our growing comics and graphic novels collection:

Ant-Man
Avengers
Black Panther
Black Panther (Christopher Priest run)
Captain America
Daredevil
Fantastic Four
Hulk
Iron Man
Spider-Man
Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
Thor
X-Men

And of course, for our super students working hard on their finals here, thank you for helping us keep the Libraries an "Avengers" spoiler-free zone!

The Mass Aggie Seed Library at the Science and Engineering Library, now open for seed borrowing and donation, houses a collection focusing on organic, open-pollinated, and heirloom vegetable and flower seeds, as well as a collection of books to educate the community about seed saving. Additionally, seed-saving tools will soon be available for loan to encourage and support seed-saving efforts.

The Seed Library is made possible through a generous grant from the UMass Amherst Sustainability, Innovation & Engagement Fund (SIEF).

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards. The competition was open to all currently-enrolled UMass Amherst undergraduates.

The first place recipient, Justin Risley ’20, will receive a $1,500 scholarship for the video “Water We Doing?”

Two second place awards of a $750 scholarship each go to Halley Steinmetz ’19 for the paper “Analyzing the Effects of Coccolithophore Concentration on the Relationship Between Vertical Absorption Coefficient and Secchi Disk Depth,” and Nicole Comeau ’19 for the project “A Proposal to UMass Amherst for a Universal Electronic Time Reporting System.”

An honorable mention of a $300 scholarship goes to Skylar Roach ’21 for the paper “Opened Doors: The Women’s Land Army, the Northeast, and Farm Sustainability.” 

Winners presented their projects and accepted their awards at the Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards celebration on Thursday, April 4, 2019, 5-7 p.m., in the Science and Engineering Library, Lederle Lowrise. The event was free and open to the public, and featured keynote speaker Abrah Dresdale, author of Regenerative Design for Change Makers: A Social Permaculture Guidebook.

Winning projects will be made openly accessible in the Sustainability Student Showcase in ScholarWorks, the university’s digital repository.

The awards promote an in-depth understanding of sustainability topics, research strategies, and the use of library resources, providing participating students with vital skills they will carry into future academic and vocational endeavors. The awards and event are made possible by the UMass Amherst Libraries’ national award-winning Sustainability Fund.

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) at the UMass Amherst Libraries was recently awarded $250,000 from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to digitize a suite of collections documenting the history of disability in America and the growth of the disability rights movement.

The Visibility for Disability Project will provide a freely-available and fully-accessible digital foundation for exploring the experience of disability in the United States and the evolution of the disability rights movement. The resulting digital archive will draw upon 19 collections, representing over 130 linear feet of material and 150 years of American history. Through the personal papers of activists and the records of organizations devoted to disability, this project will reveal the social, intellectual, political, and cultural background of disability and the evolution of new forms of cross-disability, rights-based activism within the broader civil rights struggle. Among the collections included are the records of International Center for the Disabled and Clarke School for the Deaf, and the personal papers of pioneers in the psychiatric survivors movement, Judy Chamberlin and George Ebert.

In January 2019, CLIR announced the award of over $3.8 million to fund 17 projects for 2018 Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Awards. More than 40 institutions located in 17 states and one U.S. territory will be involved in the projects covering subjects ranging from endangered languages and displaced peoples to health issues, architecture, and fisheries. This is the fourth group of projects supported by the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Awards program, which in turn is generously supported by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program, successor to the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program, supports the creation of digital representations of unique content of high scholarly significance that will be discoverable and usable as elements of a coherent national collection.

AMHERST, Mass.—UMass Amherst, in partnership with Northern Essex Community College, Worcester State College, and Holyoke Community College, was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Performance Incentive Fund (PIF) program. The project, “Massachusetts Open Education: Achieving Access for All,” focuses on building capacity for open educational resources (OER) across the state.  

OER are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets used for teaching, learning, assessment, and research. Besides addressing student concerns over increasingly high textbook costs, OER allow faculty to adopt innovative pedagogical practices, such as designing learning materials tailored to their classes or involving students in the creative process. 
 
“OER awareness has been steadily increasing throughout academia and the textbook industry,” said Marilyn Billings, Head of the UMass Amherst Libraries Scholarly Communication Department and principal investigator of the grant. “This grant gives us an opportunity to expand that awareness by increasing OER adoption, adaption, and creation throughout Massachusetts state schools.”

In addition, the project will seek applications from community college, state university, and UMass instructors to join a team developing OER course materials for a General Education (Gen Ed) Foundation course that is part of the Mass Transfer Block. This collaboration offers direct benefits to faculty and students at the 28 public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth.

Interested faculty may register here for workshops for Massachusetts Open Education Regional Training, held on the following dates:

  • Feb. 1: Northern Essex Community College
  • Feb. 8: University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Mar. 12: Bridgewater State University
  • Mar. 14: Worcester State University

For more information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education website.

Jeremy Smith, Digital Project Manager at the UMass Amherst Libraries, contributed to a recently published book titled OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians.

The book “is a perfect primer for anyone working with open educational resources (OER) on a university or college campus,” says Smith. “OER are teaching materials (textbooks, syllabi, readings, course outlines, slides, notes, videos, workbooks, lab manuals, etc.) that are released with an open, non-exclusive, copyright. The book contains an amazing amount of useful real-world examples from knowledgeable faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and advocates.”

Smith contributed to two chapters in the book. “Open Partnerships: Identifying and Recruiting Allies for Open Educational Resources Initiatives,” a chapter written by Smith and fellow collaborators Rebel Cummings-Sauls, Matt Ruen, and Sarah Beaubien, “addresses working with campus partners like students, administration, faculty, fellow librarians, instructional designers, etc. to develop a successful OER program.” Smith also wrote a solo chapter, “Seeking Alternatives to High-Cost Textbooks: Six Years of The Open Education Initiative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst,” in which he “discusses the history of the UMass Amherst Open Education Initiative, which began in 2011 and offers grants to faculty to adopt, adapt, or create OER.”

The book itself is open access, made available under a creative commons license for free download. Smith believes that this is an opportune moment in academia for such a guide to be published.

“As OER becomes increasingly popular on colleges campuses in the United States as well as the world, it is important for new practitioners to have a resource that gives them the tools to mount a successful OER effort on their campus,” he says. “The book can also be a resource for people on campus who wish to address issues around college affordability, student success and retention, and revolutionary pedagogical practices.”