I’m very excited to bring you this special issue on the role of libraries in facilitating access to content for courses. Librarians have a long record of working with faculty to ensure that the best resources are available to students, from negotiating the licenses for the most needed journals, databases, and eBooks, to managing e-reserves or course reader initiatives. Now, with new and varying types of content, ranging from multimedia to student generated content to makerspaces, librarians have a wider role than ever before. Jessica Clemons and Roger Schonfeld look at trends demonstrating growing commitments to student retention, progression, and lifelong learning outcomes and offer their take on the subject in “Why should librarians be involved in facilitating access to content needed for courses?”
Two years ago, the November 2014 issue on electronic textbooks, edited by Charles Lyons, introduced a number of projects on alternative textbooks and Open Educational Resources. Wherever possible, I wanted to revisit these projects. In “Momentum Building: Progress Towards a National Library OER Movement,” Nicole Allen, Steven Bell, and Marilyn Billings weigh in about growth indicators and new practical strategies on the OER front overall. In “High Textbook Costs: The Battle Continues,” Crista Bailey and Ann Agee update us on the Affordable Learning Solutions (ALS) project at San Jose State University, including the popular Textbooks Available as eBooks in the Library (TABL) list and the Textbook Alternative Project (TAP) Grants for faculty. In “TextSelect revisited: The evolution and success of the textbook reserves program at George Mason University,” Jessica Bowdoin and Madeline Kelly detail new developments in the university’s textbook reserve initiative in cooperation with their campus bookstore. Monica Metz-Wiseman’s “Textbook Affordability: An Update” brings us up to speed on four initiatives at the University of South Florida: Online Course Reserve, Print Textbooks on Reserve program, eBooks in the Classroom, and the Open Textbook Initiative. As you will soon see, there have been many exciting developments, and these initiatives continue to gain wider acceptance and participation. Increasing visibility for these projects is particularly important to me, as, in my day job, I’m focusing on ensuring that the metadata for these new resources is as widely available as possible in discovery and delivery services.
Bookstores, coursepacks, and e-reserves continue to be common ways to provide students with access to items assigned on a syllabus. In “Collaboration is Key to Innovative Textbook Affordability Solutions,” Robert A. Walton of the National Association of College Stores (NACS) provides informative case studies of library-bookstore collaborations to meet the needs of various campus constituencies. On the e-reserves front, I’m also pleased to bring you two views of library activities, including workflow challenges and opportunities, in this changing environment: “Current Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Electronic Reserves Services at Santa Clara” by Elizabeth McKeigue and “SIPX Electronic Reserves at Pepperdine University” by Sally Bryant and Gan Ye. Ensuring that library resources and open content are visible in faculty workflows translates into more transparency on content use, costs, and other metrics that help support the teaching and learning environment.
In investigating topics on which to commission articles for this issue, it became quickly apparent that the role of the librarian in content provision goes well beyond books and journals — electronic or otherwise — and into the wild world of multimedia. In “Media in the Classroom — Connecting, Collaborating, Creating,” Lori Widzinski (SUNY Buffalo), Debra Mandel (Northeastern University), Andrew Weaver (University of Washington), and Andy Horbal (University of Maryland) detail the variety of ways that libraries have moved from the storage of knowledge to the creation of knowledge in support of classroom learning. And in “Multimedia Creation in the Small Campus Library,” Alyson Gamble, Assistant Librarian, Sciences at the New College of Florida and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, explains her library’s focus on metaliteracy and active learning through a case study in the use of videos in the flipped classroom.
Publisher and vendor initiatives offer another view into ways that content can be adapted for use in courses. In “Does there need to be a distinction between ‘content for courses’ and ‘content for libraries’?” Liz Mason explains how Cengage develops their library products to better meet classroom needs and to help libraries demonstrate how they support better classroom learning outcomes. Robert Boissy’s “The Affordable Textbook Revolution” reveals how Springer Nature has taken a hands on approach to ensuring maximum visibility for ebooks and reference content already licensed by the university, so that faculty will see what is available to them for course use. On the e-textbook front, VitalSource’s William Chesser takes on the print versus electronic debate in “Dispatches from the Digital Front: Student Attitudes, Digital Content, and Lessons Learned.” And finally, to bring video content into the conversation, “From Alexander Street Press to the Classroom” by Bennett Graff recounts how decisions like semantic indexing and discipline level customization have had a positive impact on the use of video materials in teaching and learning.
Whether it is highlighting the traditional and continuing role of libraries in meeting faculty and student needs in the classroom or detailing new media and support mechanisms that now exist alongside regular content services, these contributors have done an amazing job. I hope that you will enjoy these articles as much as I did and that you will find useful information and practical advice that you can apply in your library or organization.