Category Archives: Open Access

Open Education Fellows Launch Cost-Free Italian Language Textbook

Exemplifying an embrace of affordable education, 2023 Open Education Fellows Dr. Amanda Bush and Silvia Luongo have successfully completed their fellowship project by creating Giornate Italiane, an Italian language textbook now available on Pressbooks. 

Authored entirely by Dr. Bush and Professor Luongo, this textbook carries a Creative Commons license, providing students with free access and eliminating the need to purchase a paid resource. Consequently, their course is now cost-free in terms of course materials, offering substantial financial relief to students.

The Open Education Fellows program, supported by the University of Texas Libraries, encourages faculty to develop open educational resources (OER) that enhance learning accessibility and affordability. 

The creation of OER textbooks ensures that all students, regardless of their financial situation, have equal access to essential learning materials. This initiative aligns with broader efforts to alleviate the financial burden of higher education and supports a more equitable academic environment.

New Open Access Initiatives and Annual Report Highlights

Welcome to our semi-annual update on the University of Texas Libraries’ (UTL) commitment to supporting open access (OA) publishing. In this update, we’re excited to announce several new OA initiatives available for the UT community to utilize, alongside a glimpse into the significant cost savings achieved through our OA agreements.

Cogitatio Press

Cogitatio Press offers a range of five OA journals covering diverse fields such as Media and Communication, Politics and Governance, and Urban Planning. Launching late this year, their ‘Ocean and Society’ journal will provide a platform for ocean-related research. The best part? UT Austin corresponding authors can publish in these journals without incurring Article Processing Charges (APCs), thanks to our agreement with Cogitatio.

Free Journal Network (FJN)

FJN, a non-profit organization, focuses on supporting diamond OA journals, ensuring no fees for readers or authors. Their mission includes facilitating journal coordination, sharing best practices, promoting FJN journals, securing funding for journal enhancement, and advocating for improvements in scholarly publishing. We’re thrilled to collaborate with FJN in advancing open access initiatives.

Institute of Physics (IOP)

UTL has secured a Read and Publish deal with the Institute of Physics (IOP), granting the UT community access to all IOP journals. Moreover, UT Austin corresponding authors can publish OA in IOP journals without bearing APC costs, contributing to the dissemination of impactful research across disciplines.

Bloomsbury Open Collections

Bloomsbury is pioneering a collective funding model for OA books, akin to the successful Subscribe to Open model for journals. We’re proud to support the African Studies + International Development collection, which aims to make 20 frontlist titles available immediately upon publication. This initiative underscores our commitment to promoting diverse voices and perspectives in scholarly literature.

Peer Community In

Peer Community In (PCI) is a scientist-led initiative to provide a reviewing and recommending service for pre-print articles; similar to the peer review process for journal articles. Those recommended pre-prints can then be submitted to the Peer Community Journal or a PCI friendly journal which will accept the recommended pre-print article with waived or expedited peer review. We are excited to support this unique publishing model that aims to provide additional value around pre-prints as an important part of the OA ecosystem.

Understanding UT Austin Corresponding Authors

You might wonder, what exactly is a UT Austin corresponding author? In essence, they’re the primary point of contact for communication regarding an article. While typically a senior researcher such as a faculty member, this role isn’t exclusive and can be fulfilled by any UT Austin affiliate involved in the research. For OA agreements offering direct author benefits like waived APCs, eligibility is contingent upon the corresponding author’s affiliation with UT Austin.

Annual Report Highlights

In our latest annual report, completed last fall, we celebrated significant milestones achieved through our OA agreements. Notably, these initiatives resulted in over $600,000 of cost savings through waived or reduced APCs. This substantial figure underscores the tangible impact of our commitment to open access publishing and reflects the growing momentum towards equitable and accessible scholarly communication.

As we continue to champion open access initiatives, we invite the UT community to explore these new opportunities and join us in advancing knowledge dissemination for the betterment of academia and society at large.

For more information on these initiatives and our ongoing efforts, please visit our OA LibGuide.

Thank you for your continued support and engagement in fostering a culture of openness and accessibility in scholarly publishing.

Open Education Week 2024 Recap

The Libraries once again recognized Open Education Week (March 4-8) with events and activities intended to raise awareness of open educational resources and their application across campus, foster collaboration, and empower learners and educators alike.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are openly licensed materials that can be:

  • Retained
  • Reused
  • Revised
  • Remixed
  • Redistributed

OER can make a huge difference for students, especially in terms of cost savings. In the 2022-2023 academic year alone, students saved over $1.8 million dollars because OER was prioritized over paid course materials.

The highlight of the Libraries’ Open Education Week 2024 was a virtual panel discussion featuring educators and students who gathered to share their perspectives on the transformative potential of open educational resources (OER) in widening access to quality education. From exploring innovative pedagogical approaches to discussing the role of technology in enhancing learning experiences, the panel provided invaluable insights into the evolving landscape of open education.

Tocker Open Education Librarian Heather Walter amplified the celebration and recognized faculty and student OER advocates throughout the week on web platforms. Dr. Jocelly Meiners (Spanish and Portuguese) received a spotlight for championing open educational resources (OER) and  collaborating with faculty to integrate OER into their courses and promoting awareness of open access principles among students and colleagues. And student advocate Marco Pevia (COLA, Spanish and Linguistics) received a nod for his collaboration with faculty to incorporate OER into courses, participated in open access advocacy efforts, and engaging in projects aimed at expanding access to knowledge.

Walter also used her social media prowess to promote the message of Open Education Week, sharing updates, resources, and insights on Instagram which provided glimpses into the vibrant events taking place, encouraging broader participation and sparking meaningful conversations around the importance of openness in education.

Even though Open Education Week 2024 has drawn to a close, the Libraries continues its commitment to fostering a culture of openness, accessibility, and collaboration in education. Through ongoing initiatives, partnerships, and advocacy efforts, the Libraries strives to empower learners and educators to embrace the principles of openness and drive positive change at UT.

Happy Open Education Week!

Today marks the start of Open Education Week! Open Educational Resources are openly licensed materials that can be: 

  • Retained
  • Reused
  • Revised
  • Remixed
  • Redistributed 

OER can make a huge difference to our students. In the 2022-2023 academic year alone, students saved over $1.8 million dollars because OER was prioritized over paid course materials. 

However, as important as these resources might be, they’re often overlooked or misunderstood. Are you curious about OER? Check out this infographic to learn more. 

And if you’d like to learn even more about OER, here are our upcoming OE Week activities: 

Monday March 4th – Friday, March 8th: Come visit our blog for a daily post spotlighting OER work happening here at UT Austin.  

Tuesday, March 5th, 12pm-2pm: Tabling event in PCL Lobby. Come by to chat with a librarian about OER. 

Friday, March 8th, 1pm-2pm: OE Week Virtual Panel. Our joint student/faculty panel will discuss their experiences with adopting, implementing and even creating OER. The event is free, but you do need to register.

Scholars Lab Hosts First Open Science Summit

The doors of the new Scholars Lab at the Perry-Castañeda Library swung open for the first Texas Open Science Summit, held on Wednesday, September 20.

Hosted by the Libraries, this summit was organized as a call to action for the advancement of open science in recognition of the Year of Open Science, a move by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to advance national open science policies across the federal government in 2023.

The Summit marked an initiatory gathering to highlight the commitment of advocates in the campus community to openness, collaboration, and the dissemination of knowledge. The event took place both in-person and virtually, to ensure accessibility to a wide audience.

The event served a diversity of ideas and perspectives to attendees, with participants from various disciplines and backgrounds coming together to explore the benefits of open science practices and individual experiences in the application of those practices. It offered a platform for sharing success stories, discussing challenges, and brainstorming solutions, all with the ultimate goal of promoting transparency and accessibility in research.

The summit provided inspiring keynote addresses and panel discussions featuring local and national experts in open science, including representatives from Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship (HELIOS) and NASA’s Transform to Open Science (TOPS) program.

These thought-provoking sessions covered a broad spectrum of topics, from open-access publishing to data sharing and reproducibility. Participants left inspired and armed with practical insights to implement in their own work.

Attendees were also introduced to the university’s new Open Source Programs Office (OSPO) – funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation – which has recently been launched to promote open source and open science opportunities to students, faculty, staff and researchers at UT.

Those who attended expressed that the Summit was a resounding success in reaffirming the global scientific community’s dedication to open science principles. Participants left the event with a deeper understanding of open science practices and a shared commitment to making research more transparent and accessible.

The Missing Link: Peer Learning for Linked Data

Over the last decade, there has been a proliferation of initiatives by GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) using Linked Open Data technologies to enhance access to their collections. From nation-wide collaborative campaigns, such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging Wikidata Pilot, to paradigm-shifting implementations, such as the transition of the Library of Congress cataloging operations to a hybrid MARC and BIBFRAME environment, the growing availability of tools, ontologies and platforms are finally allowing cultural heritage institutions to explore the promises of linked data.

Librarians and archivists see the potential in Wikidata as a pragmatic solution for managing local authorities in a linked data environment; Wikidata is increasingly used for research and increasingly integrated into software applications, including Library Service Platforms like Alma/Primo.

The UT Linked Data Learning Group, an informal community of practice at The University of Texas at Austin, composed of professional staff working in archives and libraries, convenes monthly to address the need for pragmatic ways to integrate linked data into routine workflows. We collaborate to build knowledge, skills, and institutional support for linked data initiatives in our respective institutions.

In 2022, group efforts focused on building knowledge and skills around Wikidata. Some members of the UT Linked Data Learning Group have been exploring and using Wikidata in various projects in recent years. This group aspired to leverage those members’ knowledge and skills to train other staff through a hands-on peer learning experience, with intentions to expand awareness and surface opportunities for integrating Wikidata into existing and future work. To that end, group members designed and delivered a 2-day virtual Wikidata Workshop on January 12-13, 2023.

Workshop Outcomes

Goals achieved:

  • Staff familiarity with Wikidata and Linked Data
  • Enhanced linked data ecosystem relevant to Texas Cultural Heritage
  • Expanded impact of Handbook of Texas diversification efforts (adding & enhancing Wikidata entries about Texas women)

Building a community of practice – campus representation among 36 registrants:

  • UT Libraries Content Management unit
  • UT Libraries Access Systems unit
  • UT Libraries Branch & Borrower Services unit
  • UT Libraries Stewardship department
  • UT Libraries Alexander Architectural Archives
  • UT Libraries Benson Latin American Collection
  • Harry Ransom Center
  • Briscoe Center for American History
  • Tarlton Law Library
  • Texas Digital Library
  • School of Information

Hands-on peer learning to build new skills:

  • 21 active editors contributed to Wikidata throughout the workshop. Some continued with contributions after the workshop.
  • 31 new items created in Wikidata for entries represented in the Handbook of Texas
  • 74 existing Wikidata items updated with data from the Handbook of Texas
  • 835 new references for Wikidata statements citing the Handbook of Texas as a source
Infographic of workshop outcomes

Individuals involved in designing and delivering the workshop: Melanie Cofield, Head of Access Systems, University of Texas Libraries (UTL); Brenna Edwards, Manager for Digital Archives, Harry Ransom Center; Paloma Graciani-Picardo, Metadata Librarian and Head, Printed & Published Media, Harry Ransom Center; Katie Pierce Meyer, Head of Architectural Collections, UTL; Michael Shensky, Head of Research Data Services, UTL; Yogita Sharma, Alexander Architectural Archives team member, UTL; and Elliot Williams, former DPLA Metadata Aggregation Outreach Coordinator for Texas Digital Library.

Open Education News

We may have put a bow on Open Education Week, but the work of OER continues, so we recognize a few achievements in those efforts.

University of Texas at Austin faculty member Dr. Jeanette Okur’s OER textbook, Her Şey Bir Merhaba ile Başlar! received an honorable mention in the OER category for the 2023 MAFLT LCTL Innovation Award, a national award recognizing outstanding, innovative, and transformative uses of technology in the teaching of Less Commonly Taught Languages. The award committee commented that Jeanette’s work stood out “because of the impressive quality of the materials and focus on contemporary issues.” Congratulations to Dr. Okur both for the award, and for her work in promoting OER.

UT faculty members Dr. Josh Frank and Guillermina Ogando Lavin have published the first edition of their OER textbook, Business in Hispanic Life and Culture. The textbook was completed as part of the Open Education Fellows Program, and is intended to promote both Spanish language learning and business world knowledge. The OER Working Group, along with University of Texas Libraries, celebrates Dr. Frank and Professor Ogando Lavin’s accomplishment and continued work in developing OER.

Celebrating Open Education Week 2023

The Libraries joined in the global celebration of Open Education Week March 6-10, to recognize and raise awareness of the value of open educational resources (OER).

Open Education Week (OE Week) is celebrated annually as an opportunity for actively sharing and learning about the latest achievements in Open Education worldwide. It was launched in 2012 by Open Education Global as a collaborative, community-built open forum.

OE Week provides practitioners, educators, and students with an opportunity to build a greater understanding of open educational practices and be inspired by the wonderful work being developed by the community around the world.

This year, the Libraries’ new Open Education Librarian Heather Walter hit the ground running with support of the Scholarly Communications and Teaching and Learning teams to host events and highlight ongoing work in OERs at UT.

The Libraries launched a submission process in February allowing students to nominate faculty members who extended access and enhanced equity by selecting free or low cost course materials for their classes. The Libraries partnered with the Senate of College Councils and the Natural Sciences Council to choose instructors from the pool of nominees who best employ open education practices in their classrooms. Five Affordable Education Champions were announced throughout OE Week:

The Libraries hosted a faculty panel on OER on Tuesday, March 7. The virtual panel discussion was open to the UT and broader academic community, and included Dr. Joshua Frank (Spanish and Portuguese), Dr. Milica Cudina (Mexican American Studies), and Elena Perez-Zetune (Mathematics). Panelists shared their expertise in open education trends and practices, along with their unique experiences with incorporating OER into their curriculum, including how OERs helped them build relationships with their students.

The Libraries also hosted a tabling event at PCL Wednesday, March 8, with experts engaging students, faculty and other members of the community on the impacts of OER on their teaching, learning and finances. Staff engaged with a flow of people answering questions, and visitors were invited to participate in thought experiments about the cost of textbooks relative to OERs.

For a quick overview of OERs, check out the video below, and reach out to OE Librarian Heather Walter ( if you have questions or are interested in learning more about OER.

Affordable Education Champion: Erin Reilly

In celebration of Open Education Week 2023, the Senate of College Councils, the Natural Sciences Council, and UT Libraries partnered to solicit nominations from students across campus to recognize instructors who increased access and equity by selecting free or low cost course materials for their classes. We’ll be recognizing a few of those nominees this week as Affordable Education Champions!

Affordable Education Champions are instructors who assign free or low cost resources — like textbooks, websites, films, and more — for their courses. Sometimes they author their own materials, and sometimes they’re able to reuse free or low cost work created by others. We celebrate their commitment to fostering access to high quality education at the lowest possible cost barrier for their students. 

Today, we recognize and thank Prof. Erin Reilly, who was nominated as an Affordable Education Champion for ADV 365, Audience Development and Engagement.

“​​Erin Reilly is a creator, educator, and strategist with 20 years of experience inventing new approaches, products, services, and experiences about storytelling, engagement, and learning through immersive technology. As an educator, Erin currently is Professor of Practice in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations, as well as founding Director of Texas Immersive Institute, the interactive and immersive media hub at the University of Texas at Austin focused on research, projects, and learning the future of media. Erin has been a guest lecturer worldwide at universities and industry conferences. She is an Executive Committee Board Member of the Infinity Festival, member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Interactive Media Peer Group, Past Board President of NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education) and serves on advisory boards, such as SXSW Pitch and PBS children’s programming, Hero Elementary and Emmy-award winning Sci Girls.”

As the first course in the Texas Immersive sequence, Prof. Reilly’s class is designed around experiences, and especially around using technology like virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). “These tools are often too expensive for a student to have on their own, so as a professor — I should ensure they are available for them to use and experiment with…” The student who nominated Prof. Reilly as an Affordable Education Champion appreciated this commitment to putting technology like VR within reach of the students in the class. After reorganizing her class to a flipped model that allowed students time to use these tools, Prof. Reilly noticed that her students understood better what virtual worlds were like and what they could do with them. She wrote “Through weekly sandbox demos, students gain better cognitive abilities of spatial literacy and learn to identify the possible interactions that can happen within a 3D environment whether it is a physical, digital or combination of both.” Because of this focus on using technology collaboratively, the class was also able to come together into a stronger learning community. 

Providing free access to these tools  was the right thing for her students’ learning in this class, but Prof. Reilly also believes in leveling the educational playing field in general. She wrote of her decision to lower the cost barrier for her students  “There are too many things in this world that divide us but as instructors, we can combat this.” In her view “Making education affordable to everyone advances our society…. Making our materials affordable and accessible helps to address the unequal access to opportunities, experiences, skills and knowledge that will prepare our students for full participation in the world of today and tomorrow.”

If you are a faculty member who would like to discuss finding and using OER and other free or low cost course materials in your class(es), please contact Heather Walter, Tocker Open Education Librarian ( 

Affordable Education Champion: Thomas Jesús Garza

In celebration of Open Education Week 2023, the Senate of College Councils, the Natural Sciences Council, and UT Libraries partnered to solicit nominations from students across campus to recognize instructors who increased access and equity by selecting free or low cost course materials for their classes. We’ll be recognizing a few of those nominees this week as Affordable Education Champions!

Affordable Education Champions are instructors who assign free or low cost resources — like textbooks, websites, films, and more — for their courses. Sometimes they author their own materials, and sometimes they’re able to reuse free or low cost work created by others. We celebrate their commitment to fostering access to high quality education at the lowest possible cost barrier for their students. 

Today, we recognize and thank Thomas Jesús Garza, who was nominated as an Affordable Education Champion for E 316N, World Literature.

“Thomas Jesús Garza is University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies and Founding Director of the Texas Language Center. He teaches Russian language and literature, language pedagogy, and contemporary Russian culture.  He has been traveling to and researching in Russia since 1979 and has lived in Moscow for over six years.  A native Texan, Dr. Garza received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1987. During his more than 30 years at the University, he has received numerous prizes for undergraduate and graduate teaching, including the Texas Excellence Award, the President’s Associates Award, the Harry Ransom Award, was inducted into the University Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2003, selected for a Regents Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009, and chosen a “Texas Top Ten” instructor by the Texas Exes in 2018. He recently completed a book manuscript on filmic portraits of machismo in contemporary Russian and Mexican cultures and is currently working on a new project on Russian actor and bard, Vladimir Vysotsky in the Americas in the 1970s.”

“No student should ever have to make the choice between buying course books or eating lunch.”

Like many of the other Affordable Education Champions, Dr. Garza recognizes the role accessibility to textbooks plays in promoting equity among the student body. He writes, “The issues of equity and access to a quality higher education are extremely important to me. As [a first generation college student] myself, I understand how challenging undertaking college courses can be, especially when that difficulty is compounded by the excessive cost of books and course materials.” When students don’t have to worry about how they will manage to pay for expensive textbooks, they can focus more fully on the class content. The student nominator for Dr. Garza mentioned that they used the money they saved by not having to purchase textbooks for this particular class to pay for needed medication. This exemplifies the difficult financial decisions some UT students have to make. As Dr. Garza says, “No student should ever have to make the choice between buying course books or eating lunch.”

Furthermore, the student nominator appreciated that the format chosen by Dr. Garza (PDFs uploaded to the class Canvas page) allowed them to go back later to read or reread texts when they had more time to fully appreciate their nuances. They wrote that they planned to return to the texts in the future because of the quality of the discussions held in class and that “[it] made me feel cared for because he understands that we already spend so much money on courses and their materials and that there are ways of accessing wonderful literature without putting any burden on the students. Since a lot of them were in pdf form, I still have the ability to go back and read the ones I loved or save them for when I have time.” Using free materials in courses is a way of approaching teaching in a holistic manner. Students are balancing many responsibilities. Giving them flexibility for how they access texts allows them to engage with the material in the way that works best for them.

Dr. Garza’s class addresses trauma and healing, and the diversity of the readings reflects the many different ways to approach this complex topic. Nevertheless, he was “pleasantly surprised” to discover that many of the texts he wanted to use were already available in digital formats that he could link to in Canvas.

If you are a faculty member who would like to discuss finding and using OER and other free or low cost course materials in your class(es), please contact Heather Walter, Tocker Open Education Librarian (