Open Educational Resources and Student Success

Studies have shown that students will forgo buying a textbook due to its price even while acknowledging that they will do worse in the class without their own copy. With hardcopy textbooks costing as much as $400 with averages running between $80 and $150, many students feel financially pressured to not purchase the text.

Open Educational Resources (OER) can help students succeed by reducing their costs and improving their access to course materials. OER are freely available material and the availability of them is growing as faculty recognize the advantages to students and their financial considerations in whether to buy textbooks, or indeed, to complete their degrees.

In order help faculty learn about OER, the University Libraries have created a new website, https://library.louisville.edu/oer/, that provides information on what OER are, how to find them, and how to implement them.

Open Educational Resources site home page
Open Educational Resources site

The Defining OER section introduces what OER are and how they benefit student learning.

The Finding OER section includes search options for OER metafinders and library e-books (which are available at no additional cost to UofL students, staff, and faculty). On the OER by Subject tab, faculty can link to individual guides for specific subjects which provide highlight available materials. The Evaluating OER tab provides a suggested list of questions faculty should ask when determining whether a particular OER will work for their class.

The Implementing OER section provides information on creating and adapting OER, creative commons licensing, and contact information for consultation services with our OER Librarian.

We invite you to explore the site and start thinking about how you could use OER to improve student success.

Sources

Richard, Brendan, Dean Cleavenger, and Valerie A. Storey. “The Buy-In: A Qualitative Investigation of the Textbook Purchase Decision.” Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice 14, no. 3 (2014): 20-31.

“Average Cost of College Textbooks.” Updated August 12, 2021, accessed May 13, 2022, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college-textbooks.


How to reserve a room in our libraries

Curious about how to reserve a room in one of our libraries? It’s easy!

First, navigate to the University Libraries website: library.louisville.edu/home.

Libraries website home page. In the right-hand column is the box titled Reserve a Room.

Next, click on the orange “Reserve a Room” box in the right hand column. This page should come up:

Landing page for room reservations. Shows room descriptions and a limit to box.

Then choose the library where you would like to reserve a room. Or if you prefer, you can limit your choices by room type: auditoriums, conference rooms, group study rooms, or instruction labs.

Small box with inverted white text on black backdrop titled "Limit To"

Some rooms are only available to be reserved by faculty or staff. Others are also open to students.

Descriptions of rooms may include a list of equipment and technology available within the space. For example, Art Library’s Room 102C includes:

  • Movable furniture
  • Control panel to turn on/off system
  • 70″ mounted television monitor
  • Mac computer 
  • Web conferencing camera
  • CD/DVD player
  • Screen mirroring software compatible with laptops, phones, and tablets
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse
  • Freestanding podium
  • External speakers
  • Mobile whiteboard and markers
Shows image of Art Library's Room 102C, which may be reserved. Gray carpet, six tables with two chairs each, all modular, and a large video screen. Art on the walls.
The Art Library’s Room 102C

Please remember to visit each library’s policies (Ekstrom; Kornhauser; Art; Music). Some rooms have specific policies which are included in the room description.


Celebrating National Medical Librarians Month

October is National Medical Librarians Month and an opportunity to celebrate Kornhauser Health Sciences Library and Rowntree Library employees who continue to provide specialized library support to UofL physicians, faculty, staff, and students across the health sciences disciplines. This year, the focus is on health equity.

Medical librarians provide a pivotal role in helping eliminate disparities in health outcomes. Kornhauser and Rowntree librarians and staff frequently assist researchers in finding information on issues related to health equity, from disparities in pancreatic cancer outcomes experienced by African Americans to cross-cultural differences in palliative care preferences.

When UofL physicians or medical personnel have questions that require specialized medical research, they will reach out to our librarians who will quickly respond with the most up-to-date information. This enables physicians to make the best decisions related to patient care, a crucial step in ensuring health equity. None of the research is behind a paywall or requires a special fee for service. 

In addition to providing support for specific research questions, the librarians on the health sciences campus work to offer broad access to resources related to health equity issues. Earlier this year, Kornhauser expanded its collections to broaden DEI-related titles and the clinical librarian team created a Diversity Resources Hub for resources related to the social determinants of health, health disparities, cultural competence, consumer health resources, and more.

Social factors and equity concerns are involved in all aspects of healthcare, and the medical librarians at Kornhauser and Rowntree are glad to do their part to help researchers, clinicians, and students navigate these important issues.

To celebrate Health Literacy Awareness Month, Kornhauser will present a webinar on October 21 from noon-1 p.m. titled “Health Literacy: Your Role as a Healthcare Professional.”  Kornhauser Clinical Librarian Dani LaPreze will discuss how healthcare providers can help their patients better understand medical information, how providers can improve communication through cultural awareness and competence. She will also describe the resources that are available for both providers and patients. A Q&A will follow. To register, visit: https://library.louisville.edu/kornhauser/health-literacy-webinar.


Learning from the 2021 Libraries Benchmark Survey

By Anita Hall

The University Libraries bi-yearly Benchmark Survey is one of the primary ways we get feedback from the UofL community, to help us improve our services, collections and environments. This survey has existed in some form since 2001, and our most recent survey was conducted in April 2021.

We work with UofL’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness to administer the survey, and they generate a random sample of about 50% of the university community. We sent the survey to 11,834 people and received 1843 responses, for an overall response rate of 15.6%. This year’s survey included questions about how often UofL students and faculty use the libraries, how well we are doing at achieving high-level organizational goals, and how well we are meeting the needs of the university community. There is also room for open-ended comments, which often give us some of our most valuable feedback.

So, what did we learn?

Overall, it seems like we’re doing pretty well. The vast majority (87.47% or 1,612) of respondents said that they have used the Libraries in some way during the past year. Of course, due to the pandemic a lot more people were using the Libraries virtually than in previous years, but we were very happy to learn that so many people were still finding ways to use our collections, services, and spaces. For people who said they did not use the Libraries, the top reason was that they just haven’t needed to, but will when the need arises. We also asked respondents to rate the Libraries overall on a scale of 0 to 10, and the average score was 8.32. This is up slightly from 2018, so we’re happy to see that we are making improvements! We also scored well on other measures of how well we are meeting our high-level goals (see chart below), and most people say that our collections, services, and spaces are meeting their needs.

Please rate your agreement with the following statements on a scale of 0 to 10:Mean Score
The UofL Libraries provide the information resources I need for my work or study8.3
The UofL Libraries help me stay abreast of developments in my field(s) of interest.7.66
The UofL Libraries provide resources and collections that represent me and my identity.7.55
In general, I am satisfied with library support for my learning, research, and/or teaching needs.8.35
The UofL Libraries provide space that inspires study and learning.8.04
The UofL Libraries provide space that is inclusive and welcoming to the entire University community.8.24
In general, I am satisfied with the spaces and facilities available at the UofL Libraries.8.14
The UofL Libraries’ staff interacts with students or faculty in a caring fashion.7.9
The UofL Libraries as an organization show a commitment to anti-racism.7.46
The UofL Libraries support me in developing the information skills I need in my work or study.8.02
In general, I am satisfied with the service that I receive at the UofL Libraries.8.47

Even though these top-level results are pretty positive overall, we really want to learn where we need to improve. One thing we look for is differences between different groups of respondents (some obvious ones like Faculty versus Graduate students versus Undergraduates, as well as some really specific groups like “people who say group study spaces are important to them”) to see if the overall data is masking anything that might be an issue for certain people. We also look at what types of things people say they either don’t use or didn’t know about, to see where we should be doing more outreach or getting more feedback. And we perform qualitative data analysis on all of the comments that we receive (2,537 this year!) to look for recurring themes, issues, and suggestions.

For example, we asked specifically “How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your experience using the UofL Libraries?” and there were 803 comments in response to this question. You can see a breakdown of some of the trends from these responses below. Many people told us that they used the libraries less in-person, or not at all, and that they increased their usage of our online resources (or used these exclusively). People also had a lot of feedback (both positive and negative) about the impact of safety protocols and service changes on their experience. Of course, references to the pandemic permeated throughout comments on the entire survey, and there were actually many more references to pandemic-related changes than just the responses to this single question.

  • Q27: How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your experience using the UofL Libraries? Most Common Themes:
    • Less or Zero In-Person Usage: 333
    • More or Exclusively Online Usage: 154
      • Both: 44
    • Experience Unchanged: 122
    • Impacted by Safety Protocols: 159
    • Impacted by Service Changes: 65
    • Impact on Groups or Crowds: 52
    • More In-Person Usage: 19

A lot of times the Benchmark survey results are really a starting point for doing more research – for example, if we see that something isn’t meeting people’s needs, we want to learn more about the specific issues and possible solutions that we could implement. We’ll be continuing to analyze the 2,021 Benchmark data and conduct follow-up research over the next 18 months or so, and then it will be time for the next survey before we know it!


Ekstrom Library online librarian presents at ACRL virtual conference

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected academic libraries and the roles of online learning librarians? That question formed the genesis of a recent paper and presentation by Amber Willenborg, Ekstrom Library’s online and undergraduate learning coordinator, and co-author and presenter Tessa Withorn, online learning librarian at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Willenborg and Withorn presented findings from their paper, Online Learning Librarianship in a Fully Online World: Findings (and Advice) from a National Study During the Covid-19 Pandemic, at the April virtual conference of the Association of College & Research Libraries’ (ACRL).

Cover of published article: Online Learning Librarianship in a Fully Online World.

Prior to the past year of virtual work, some academic librarians may have doubted the efficacy of online librarianship, said Willenborg, but many came to appreciate the practice during the pandemic, at least according to the impressions of online academic librarians.   

“In a previous study we found that online learning librarians often felt siloed and were often solely responsible for online learning work,” Willenborg continued. “But as academic libraries rapidly expanded online offerings, online learning librarians found that their colleagues were more supportive and open to online learning, where in the past they had been hesitant about its value.”

During the pandemic, online learning librarians themselves took on more leadership roles, spent more time training colleagues, and were managing an increased workload. This gave other librarians a greater appreciation for the role of online learning, according to the paper’s findings.

Initially, with a goal of uncovering difficulties within the profession, Withorn and Willenborg asked academic online learning librarians about their roles and challenges in early 2020. However, the pandemic hit soon after interviews were concluded, so the two decided to re-interview the same librarians in late 2020 to find out how their roles had changed. 

Interviewees offered helpful advice to academic librarians who may be newly involved in online learning work due to the pandemic. “Find a support network and be proactive about training and professional development,” said Willenborg. “That was the topline advice: online learning is a lot of work but don’t get discouraged.”

The paper and presentation on these findings followed up an earlier study on online learning librarians titled A Foot in Both Worlds: Current Roles and Challenges of Academic Online Learning Librarians, co-authored by Willenborg and Withorn, a former Ekstrom Library student assistant. The two colleagues also presented together at the Kentucky Library Association’s Library Instruction Retreat in 2018.

Presenting at ACRL is an exceptional honor, with only 30% of presentation submissions accepted for inclusion in the conference. Willenborg also appeared at ACRL’s 2017 conference to discuss a poster.

“We received a lot of positive comments during and after our presentation,” said Willenborg. “Online learning librarians in attendance really identified with our findings.”


Citizen Literacy receives notice in ALA 2021 State of America’s Libraries Report

Citizen Literacy, the University of Louisville Libraries’ online toolkit to promote information skills and resist disinformation, continues to gain recognition. The latest notice is in The State of America’s Libraries 2021: A Report from the American Library Association by the American Library Association, which offers an overview of how libraries operated in the US during the past year during the global pandemic. The report lists Citizen Literacy in its section on disinformation.

Cover of American Library Association's 2021 State of America's Libraries. Special Report: Covid-19.

The University Libraries created the online portal to help students become better consumers of media, research and information. Launched to coincide with the final weeks of the 2020 election season, Citizen Literacy promotes essential information skills like algorithmic literacy, news literacy, how to evaluate expertise, how to investigate the veracity of online sources through lateral reading, and how to become an informed voter.

The site was created by Rob Detmering, head of Research Assistance and Instruction; Amber Willenborg, online and undergraduate learning coordinator; and Terri Holtze, head of web services.

Citizen Literacy was also recently praised in a recent report by Stanford University on general deficiencies in university instruction on digital literacy. The report shows that students are mostly unable to discern legitimate news and information sources from falsehoods and proposes innovative teaching methods to combat this deficiency. Citizen Literacy embodies a good kind of remedy, the report concludes.

“Institutions need to follow the example of forward-looking librarians and information specialists at the vanguard of new approaches to dealing with misinformation—often on shoestring budgets at liberal arts colleges and state universities. . . . Robert Detmering and Amber Willenborg, librarians at the Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville, have produced a series of polished videos (with just the right dose of snark) that provoke college students to reevaluate their online behavior. We hope these and similar efforts will shine a light on a path for other colleges and universities to follow.”

“Educating for Misunderstanding: How Approaches to Teaching Digital Literacy Make Students Susceptible to Scammers, Rogues, Bad Actors, and Hate Mongers,” (Working Paper A-21322, Stanford History Education Group, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 2020). https://purl.stanford.edu/mf412bt5333

Additionally, Last year, the Chronicle of Higher Education featured an interview with Detmering and Willenborg on media literacy; CHE’s weekly “Teaching” column focused on how higher education can combat disinformation by teaching media literacy through various means, and the Citizen Literacy toolkit was one strategy mentioned.


University Libraries’ Citizen Literacy helps students become savvy information consumers

When Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness” in 2005 it not only described misleading rhetoric during the ramp-up to the Iraq war, it captured a central dilemma of our modern media environment: shattered, segmented media ecosystems allow many of us to create our own version of reality. In such an environment, leaders can manipulate us with words that sound truthful but are false.

Determining reality in a “post-truth” era is challenging. It is also a central tenet of citizenship. Particularly during a presidential election season.

How can faculty teach students to become savvy consumers of information in this environment?

The University Libraries has created a new online toolkit called Citizen Literacy to tackle the issue. Launched to coincide with the final weeks of the 2020 election season, Citizen Literacy promotes essential information skills like algorithmic literacy, news literacy, how to evaluate expertise, how to investigate the veracity of online sources through lateral reading, and how to become an informed voter.

“We hope faculty will use these tools to engage students with these important information literacy topics in the context of specific academic disciplines,” said Rob Detmering, Ekstrom information literacy coordinator and one of the site’s creators. Amber Willenborg, online learning and digital media librarian, also created content and narrated the videos, and Terri Holtze, head of web services, designed the online site experience.

The site contains short videos, downloadable handouts and infographics that can be incorporated into syllabi or coursework.

In the news literacy section are strategies to help students examine the value of credible news sources and identify deceptive stories, including “fake news.” Another section helps students understand algorithms whose unseen mechanisms skew online searches in a way that impacts privacy and political understanding.

The toolkit includes multiple ideas for class activities that can be easily adapted across disciplines,  and that work in both online and face-to-face settings.  Faculty can easily incorporate parts in their courses.

To learn more, please visit the site or contact Information Literacy Coordinator Rob Detmering.


Clinical Librarians: Behind the Front Lines

While the medical community grapples with the fallout from COVID-19, UofL doctors are depending upon a hidden asset to fight the virus: clinical librarians.

These invisible partners work behind the scenes make sure physicians, medical staff and students have relevant, timely information to complete their missions. Providing library support at clinical meetings, conducting literature searches, and creating online resource guides are the daily regimen for Kornhauser’s librarians.

“I simply could not function at full potential without a dedicated librarian.”

– Dr. Martin Huecker, research director for UofL’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

While clinical librarians help clinicians use verifiable best practices and evidence-based research throughout the year, they are now arguably more important than ever.

Jessica Petrey at COVID19 Outreach center

For example, Jessica Petrey, Kornhauser’s Associate Director of Clinical Services, works with UofL physicians and staff in six practice areas, including infectious diseases and emergency medicine, programs that are particularly active now. She attends weekly meetings – virtually and in person, practicing physical distancing – to help medical personnel work effectively as the pandemic rages locally. It’s all part of her ordinary job that has just become extraordinary.

“Our physicians have been deeply supportive of Petrey’s work and she is highly regarded by some world-renown experts,” said Kornhauser Director Vida Vaughn. “So many of our library personnel are invaluable to the medical community.”

In a testimonial email, Dr. Martin Huecker, research director for UofL’s Department of Emergency Medicine, says that he “simply could not function at full potential without a dedicated librarian.” In praise of Petrey, he notes “many instances of communicating via email during an actual ER shift, and receiving responses from Jessica that affected patient care.”

I rely on [Petrey’s] support for literature searches, content management related to point of care / real time clinical decision-making tools, and troubleshooting / access to those tools (clinical key, up-to-date, etc.). Emergency medicine is a specialty that relies particularly heavily on rapid availability of resources. Jessica answers emails with uncanny promptness.

Likewise, Ruth Carrico, Professor in the Infectious Diseases department, writes

The long-standing relationship the Division of Infectious Diseases has with the UofL Libraries has been one of tremendous value for our teaching, service, and research activities. Each week, Jessica Petrey, Association Director Clinical Services participates in our faculty meetings. During these meetings she provides insight and expertise in existing literature and research reports that address clinical questions as well as opportunities for additional research. As part of the COVID-19 response, Jessica worked with us to develop repositories for publications that helped us with development of new manuscripts for submission. In addition, the UofL Libraries have been instrumental in helping us maintain two peer-review journals that continue to grow in interest and impact.

“Our role is to make sure we’re facilitating access to information, sometimes in real time” said Petrey. “That is a more proactive role now with the volume of information coming out. People need a bit more help navigating it, and might not have time to ask.”

Published studies are also more readily available to the public now, as many proprietary scientific journals make COVID-19 research freely available to support a unified front against the current health crisis.

Helping clinicians and researchers stay on top of the information within a subject domain, even when it comes at a frenzied pace, is simply part of a clinical librarian’s job, says Vaughn.

“So many of our library personnel are invaluable to the medical community.”

— Kornhauser Director Vida Vaughn

“When you’re an embedded librarian no matter what the subject area – gastroenterology, family medicine or pediatrics – you have to stay on top of information. You’re always looking at the newest articles on the topic that are constantly coming out. We set alerts for research in subject areas and are pushing out evidence-based scholarship to the doctors we serve.”

After Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear suspended elective surgeries in March, all clinics and most research activity were canceled, after which Kornhauser faculty and staff saw a slight drop in requests for information. But after a few weeks, requests for assistance accelerated again.

“It started to sink in that normal is not something that’s going to happen any time soon, so they need to keep going with whatever research they can,” said Petrey. “So we’re starting to see requests picking back up again, and we’re even exceeding our normal workloads.”

After the University issued its work-from-home order, Kornhauser remained open for several weeks, but eventually closed its building to protect users and the Library’s workers, allowing personnel to work remotely. The closure hasn’t limited the Library’s instruction and service model since “nearly everything we do is online, with access to resources and collections there,” says Vaughn.

However, “the Health Sciences Campus is primarily comprised of professional students with jobs and families, and Kornhauser Library is a refuge-like study space away from home. So the library closure was something of a shock to our community,” Vaughn continued. “We are directing them to Ekstrom Library for study space, or the Student Activity Center during Intersession when Ekstrom is closed.”

Throughout the coming months as the medical community continues to grapple with the ramifications of COVID-19’s spread, Kornhauser librarians and staff will continue to serve them as always, behind the scenes, working diligently. And their work will continue to be appreciated. From Dr. Huecker’s testimonial:

I extend sincere gratitude to Jessica Petrey (along with John Chenault, Rachel Howard, and the UofL Libraries in general) for allowing me to practice efficient, evidence-based, up to date clinical emergency medicine while maintaining an active focus on scholarship.

Visit Kornhauser Library for more information.


ThinkIR Journal hosts UofL Scholarship on Novel Coronavirus

UofL scholarship is having an impact on the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic. Two studies on the novel coronavirus COVID19 have been downloaded hundreds of times from UofL’s institutional repository, ThinkIR. Community-Acquired Pneumonia due to Endemic Human Coronaviruses compared to 2019 Novel Coronavirus: A Review and Endemic Human Coronaviruses in Hospitalized Adults with Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Results from the Louisville Pneumonia Study are posted in the Journal of Respiratory Infections, an open access journal hosted by ThinkIR. Because the journal is open access and has no paywall, anyone may access this information from anywhere across the globe with an internet link.

study

ThinkIR is an open-access digital repository that provides worldwide access to the scholarship of the University of Louisville community. Through ThinkIR, faculty and graduates can highlight their scholarship, accomplishments, and successes as researchers for a global audience, increasing their visibility and making new connections. As a core commitment of University Libraries, ThinkIR also preserves that scholarship for future researchers. ThinkIR currently includes student dissertations, theses, faculty publications, and freestanding open access journals produced at or hosted by the University of Louisville.

In addition to this research, Kornhauser Health Sciences Library has created a Library Guide on the Novel Coronavirus that offers a variety of information related to COVID19, including curated scholarship, links to national, local and regional resources, tips and other sources of information: https://library.louisville.edu/kornhauser/covid19.


Ekstrom Library Opens New Gender-Neutral Restroom

In an effort to create more inclusive and welcoming spaces, Ekstrom Library has renovated existing utility space into a gender-neutral restroom.

Located on the second floor in the west wing, the new restroom is open 24 /7, includes a changing table for families, and is fully accessible. It opened to the public on January 14.

“Students and employees have told us that this type of facility is a priority for them,” said University Libraries Dean Bob Fox. “We located the restroom in the west wing to make sure everyone has 24-hour access.

“I’m pleased that we were able to complete the project using funds from the bequest of William F. Ekstrom, the library’s namesake,” Fox said.

For several years, University Libraries leaders have gathered feedback from the Libraries Student Advisory Board, the Student Government Association, and campus employees who collectively expressed a desire for inclusive, accessible facilities. Provost Beth Boehm also has been supportive of the effort and is pleased that the Libraries were able to move forward with this.

Currently, two unisex restrooms are located in Starbucks, in Ekstrom’s west side, but are only available when the café is open. Libraries administration wanted to provide 24-hour access to such facilities.

Long-range plans for Ekstrom Library include creating more gender-neutral restrooms in other spaces as funding permits.