In April 2015 the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) Directors Council hosted David Ernst, Director of the Open Textbook Network (OTN), at its spring meeting to learn more about OTN and the resources of the Open Textbook Library. His visit spurred UALC members Brigham Young University-Lee Library and the University of Utah-Marriott Library to join OTN as institutional members and later for UALC to join as a consortial member.
To create a broader conversation around open textbooks and OER among the state's academic librarians and interested faculty and students, UALC adapted a successful two-day workshop template developed by Texas A&M University for the Southeastern Conference. Financial constraints and a desire to hold this workshop during the middle of the academic semester with student and teaching faculty participation made a one-day workshop more viable. Working with SPARC's Nicole Allen, UALC workshop planners devised a one-day workshop hosted by Brigham Young University (BYU) to which 3-5-person teams were invited from each member school. During the October 2015 workshop, teams were guided through a process that resulted in at least the creation of a local skeleton plan for coordinated and strategic action related to advancing open textbook adoptions.
As teams reported out, it became clear that a common part of most local plans was the creation and administration of a baseline survey to determine local awareness of and attitudes toward open textbooks among students and faculty. Members of BYU's OER Research Group offered to devise a survey which could be administered by each institution for the purpose of providing local data and a comparable statewide data set. In January 2016, participating institutions began administering the survey to selected faculty and students. Due to local IRB requirements and surveys that had been previously scheduled for administration, some institutions were not able to participate until fall 2016. Analysis of this data indicates differences in awareness and attitude across the various institutions, strongly suggesting that a one-size-fits-all approach to facilitating open textbook adoptions would not be optimal.
In addition to the survey, UALC worked with OTN to develop a train-the-trainer model in place of its one-day on-campus faculty workshops to enhance creation of a state-wide knowledge base among academic librarians. UALC formed an OER Committee to create a mechanism for Utah's academic librarians to exchange information, to identify other sources of appropriate training for the state's academic librarians, and to develop and utilize best practices in their individual settings. The OER Committee also provides statewide coordination for events such as OER Week, long-term maintenance of a Utah OER website, training opportunities for librarians, faculty, and students, and other relevant activities.