The week of Oct. 23, two Geneseo professors released their published works through the Open SUNY Textbook Program, which allows students free access to online versions of these publications. The scheduled release of these works fell during International Open Access week.
“International Open Access Week is a global event in academic and research communities to learn about open access and encourage efforts and strategies that can maximize the sharing and impact of scholarship,” Milne Library Director Cyril Oberlander said.
The Open SUNY Textbook Program consists of textbooks that are free or freely distributed online to help reduce the cost barriers students face, Oberlander explained. These books are available using a Creative Commons license that allows both students and teachers to read print, copy or adapt these works free of charge.
According to Oberlander, Geneseo received a $20,000 SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant to create the initial textbooks and received a renewed IITG grant of $60,000 to produce even more textbooks next year.
“The funding is primarily geared toward providing financial incentives to faculty authors and peer reviewers,” Oberlander said.
In order to release these publications online, participating libraries in the State University of New York system provide the editorial support and copy editing service and secure faculty peer reviews. In addition to this, Milne Library administered the program and creates the text layout and publishing platform, according to Oberlander.
Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Eugene Stelzig released his essay titled “Bob Dylan’s Career as a Blakean Visionary and Romantic” through the open-access program. Stelzig said that he wrote this essay in the 1970s and always had people interested in his work but faced obstacles when publishing it. When professor and Chair of English Department Paul Schacht suggested Stelzig publish it online through the open-access program, he seized the opportunity.
“This was a wonderful thing; the school did it all,” Stelzig said. “I gave them an old faded typescript, and they transformed it into a manuscript. They did all the work, so I’m very grateful and appreciative.”
According to Stelzig, Editor and Production Manager at Milne Library Allison Brown worked on making the publications available for open access.
“One of the tremendous benefits of this is for faculty who want to use textbooks is that they can make their own work available for free because we all know the cost of textbooks has gone up astronomically,” Stelzig said.
Lecturer of Chinese Jasmine Tang published her textbook Let’s Speak Chinese! through the program. She said she chose to because she always wanted to teach people to speak Chinese and share the Chinese culture with everyone. Throughout her years of teaching, she has looked for low-cost ways to publish because she has heard students complain that textbooks are too expensive. When she heard she could publish a conversation book so American students could speak Chinese free of charge, she decided to do so.
According to Oberlander, Milne Library is working with other faculty authors to publish their works through the Open SUNY Textbook Program.