Features

Published on July 29th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Miller F. Whittaker Library awarded grant to help make learning more affordable Leads Open Educational Resources movement for HBCUs

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – SC State’s Miller F. Whittaker Library was awarded a $249,376 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. The two-year grant will support initiatives that aim to lower the cost of textbooks and other course materials for students and enhance the university’s library as an educational resource. With the awarded funds, SC State’s library will sponsor a summit that will train academic librarians on Open Educational Resources (OER). The summit will include librarians and faculty teams from other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

According to its page on the Institute of Museum and Library Services website, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program “supports developing a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public.”

The summit’s training on OER will equip librarians to become advocates and leaders in OER, which is an affordable learning movement, on their campuses. With U.S. academic libraries historically at the forefront of OER, its purpose is to support the creation, adaptation, adoption and awareness of open and affordable textbooks. Librarians from public and private HBCUs will be invited to attend the summit. In addition to the summit, the funded project will include:
a project website
textbook transformation grants to HBCU library and faculty teams to redesign a general education course to incorporate free or low-cost textbooks
a series of professional development webinars on OER
OER is needed more than ever to make education more affordable for students. Textbook prices have increased 88% overthelastdecade, averaging about $1,250 a year at four-year public colleges. The cost of textbooks and other coursematerials present barriers to the completion of a college education. Members of Congress and other leaders consider OER as one solution to promoting college affordability.

This project will empower librarians with knowledge and skills about the OER curation process, encourage them to become advocates while serving as resources for free and low-cost textbooks and introduce them to best practices for the development, maintenance and sustainability of an OER initiative on their respective campuses.

“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information and new ideas in the arts, sciences and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”

“We are elated to receive this grant, which has the potential of putting SC State at the forefront of the OER movement within the HBCU community. Given HBCU students are often recipients of Pell Grants or low-income students, much OER literature suggests that free and affordable textbooks will enhance the success, retention and graduation rate of these students,” said Dr. Ruth A. Hodges, interim dean of SC State’s Library and Information Services, and principal investigator of the project.

Dr. Diane M. Burnette, executive director of the university’s Center for Teaching, Learning andExtendedStudies, is the co-principal investigator.

For more information, contact Dr. Ruth A. Hodges at rhodges@scsu.edu;
(803)536-7045 or Dr. Diane M. Burnette at (803) 536-7187; dburnet1@scsu.edu.

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