PALNI Awarded Additional Funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Support PALSave Affordable Learning Program

Faculty sitting at desks facing a projection screen during a PALSave workshop.
Faculty at Goshen College learn about adopting OER into their courses during a PALSave workshop.

Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) a $275,000 grant to support PALSave, the consortium’s affordable learning initiative. 

PALSave combats the rising costs of textbooks by advancing the use of open educational resources (OER). The project supports student success and retention by providing collaborative tools and a framework for OER awareness, education, and engagement. In addition, it enhances the teaching and learning missions of private higher education throughout the state by funding and supporting faculty adoption of open and affordable course materials. 

The new funding comes on the heels of a 2019 Lilly Endowment grant of $520,000 in support of PALSave. The $795,000 in total funding is helping to create significant savings for Indiana college students.

In its third year, PALSave has far exceeded its initial goals. Highlights of its successes include:

  • $2.1 million total savings now projected from participation levels, which will exceed PALNI’s $1 million goal, and $648,748 cumulative savings to date 
  • 10,872 students impacted, saving on average $59.67 each 
  • 98% of students reporting a positive or neutral impact on studies and grades with OER
  • 571 faculty reached with educational workshops 
  • 142 courses transformed to include OER  
  • 42% of redesigned courses indicating grade improvement 
  • 434% return on investment with course redesign funds 
  • $2.36 saved for every program dollar spent 
  • 100% of PALNI institutions participating in PALSave 

“Through the PALSave program, PALNI and its supported institutions are making a genuine impact on student success by reducing debt and implementing the use of free, customizable course materials,” says Amanda Hurford, Scholarly Communications Director for PALNI and PALSave project lead. “We are so grateful to Lilly Endowment for recognizing this effort, and for enabling us to continue enhancing the learning experience and quality of life for college students across the state.”

PALSave project lead Amanda Hurford sitting at desk across from faculty member during PALSave workshop
PALSave project lead Amanda Hurford (left) with Marisa Albrecht, library director at the University of Indianapolis, during a PALSave workshop.

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

While only a portion of the overall price tag on a college education, course material costs can be extremely detrimental to student success and retention. According to data from the College Board, the average full-time, on-campus undergraduate at a four-year school was asked to budget $1,240 for books and supplies during the 2020-21 academic year. 

Additionally, COVID-19 has raised the barriers students face both financially and technologically to access course materials. Students who lost jobs due to the pandemic or who lacked reliable internet access were hardest hit by course materials costs. Key findings published in 2021 from the Student Public Interest Research Groups and U.S. PIRG Education Fund show that:

  • Students continue to skip buying assigned textbooks despite concerns it will impact their grade.
  • More students are neglecting to purchase access codes for remote learning, possibly driven by financial strain. Forgoing an access code means students miss out on homework, quizzes, and other important parts of their grade in a class. 
  • Lack of reliable internet correlates with significant issues for course material access and student success.
  • Students who faced food insecurity were impacted by unaffordable course materials at a much higher rate—82% of students who reported missing a meal due to the pandemic also reported skipping buying textbooks due to cost.

PALSave works to provide a proactive solution to these barriers by helping faculty adopt openly licensed and fully customizable OER into their courses. It does so through workshops that give educators the resources they need to transform courses using materials that are entirely free to students, providing textbook creation grants, and offering publishing support. 

EMPOWERING STUDENTS

Initial feedback from students who have used OER via PALSave has been highly positive, with students sharing comments such as:

  • “Having the zero-cost textbook allowed my professor to be flexible with the readings, so I truly believe that I had the best readings possible for this class.”
  • “Part of the reason I was dreading STEM classes was because of high textbook costs compared to other classes. Having experience in class with actual expensive textbooks, I much prefer this medium.”
  • “There have been times when I have simply not bought the book because of cost. There have been times where my grades have suffered from these barriers, so this has made a positive difference in my performance.”
  • “It’s easier for me to do the readings anywhere when a lot of the materials are accessible on my laptop and phone.”

“Recent research demonstrates that students provided with open course materials show improved academic outcomes and retention,” adds Hurford. “PALSave develops the expertise, tools and content to be used in the course redesign process while also building a community of champions for affordable learning through PALNI’s twenty-four supported institutions.” 

Strong faculty interest throughout PALNI schools has enabled PALSave to meet or exceed its goals earlier in the project timeline than anticipated. The additional funds from Lilly Endowment Inc. will help sustain the program’s long-term success, build upon its impact to students, and accrue significant savings for years to come.

“Participating in PALSave’s course redesign process was a fantastic experience,” says Glené Mynhardt, associate professor of biology at Hanover College. “I learned so much and found many wonderful resources that I hope to use in the future to benefit students. I highly recommend this program to faculty and would love to participate again to help move some of my other courses into the zero-cost space.”

Program details and progress are provided on the PALSave website. For more information about PALSave, contact Amanda Hurford.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.

Saint Meinrad Faculty Publish Open-Access Electronic Books

News from Saint Meinrad:

Saint Meinrad Archabbey Library is pleased to announce publication of six open-access electronic books authored by Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology faculty. Two of the books are original publications by Fr. Harry Hagen, OSB: Mighty in Battle: A Literary Study of Battle Narrative in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible and Elements of Biblical Narrative.  In addition, four titles from the Saint Meinrad Studies in Pastoral Ministry series, previously published in print editions by Abbey Press, are now available as electronic books. These are: CelibacyCatholic Imaginationand Workers into the Harvest: Priesthood in the New Milleniumall edited by Fr. Denis Robinson, OSB, and That the Word Might be Proclaimed: Selections from the Marten Lectures, edited by Dr. Rick Stern. These publications are made possible by PALNI Press, a service of PALNI, the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana. They can be accessed either directly through PALNI Press or through the library’s catalog. Special thanks for making these publications possible goes to the PALNI staff, especially Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director, and to Mary Jeanne Schumacher, Saint Meinrad’s Director of Communications, for generously providing final editing of the Studies in Pastoral Ministry series volumes.

Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology

PALNI’s LSTA-funded Last Copies Digitization Project Concludes

PALNI’s 2020 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, Collaboratively Preserving Rare Scholarship in Religiously Affiliated Libraries: PALNI Last Copies is has officially wrapped! We exceeded our goal of digitizing 240 books, with a total of 446 scarcely held titles contributed from 22 PALNI institutions.

View the collection here: https://archive.org/details/palnilastcopies

(post continues after image)

PALNI Last Copies Project Flyer (PDF Here)

Project Highlights:

  • April 2021: Scanning continued
  • May 2021: Project budget revision enables additional scanning of hymnal collection
  • June 2021: All scanning concluded!
  • July 2021: Discovery strategy defined, including: Share with Indiana Memory & DPLA; Create new ebook records and a global Knowledge Base collection
  • August 2021: Project included in the Atla Digital Library!

Project Evaluation

  • We’ve scanned a total of 446 books, containing 108,846 pages, and 20 foldouts.
  • The collection has been viewed 5,072 times (a 744% increase since March!).
  • Top viewing regions from the last 30 days are 1) California, 2) Virginia, 3) Hunan, China, 4) Indiana, and 5) Germany. 
  • An account of the Vedas : with numerous extracts from the Rig-Veda, from Manchester University, has been viewed the most — at 154 times since uploaded on March 19, 2021. 
  • Most titles are accessible from the first page of results in a Google search.

Next Steps

Now that the project is officially over, there are just a few activities to wrap up, some ongoing work to do, and the potential for new directions.

  • We will complete the CONTENTdm collection and work with the Indiana State Library to share metadata with Indiana Memory and DPLA. 
  • As an ongoing project, we will continue to create ebook catalog records and complete any metadata cleanup needed in Internet Archive identified through that process. 
  • Finally, we may explore potential scholarly publishing activities such as digital scholarship projects, digital exhibits, the creation of open educational resources, and research around resource scarcity.

Many thanks to PALNI-supported institutions for their participation in PALNI Last Copies, and to our partners at Internet Archive and Atla!

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Indiana State Library.

PALSave Textbook Creation Grants Awarded to Faculty Textbook Authors

PALNI’s PALSave Textbook Creation Grants Program has awarded funding to faculty members from PALNI supported institutions to create six open textbooks. These open textbooks will be freely available on the web, reducing costs to students enrolled in courses in the future. Financed with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., each author will receive up to a maximum of $5,000 with a cap of $6,500 per proposal.

PALSave Logo
PALSave: Affordable Learning

After starting a successful pilot with Butler University Professor James McGrath, the PALNI Open Educational Resource (OER) Publishing Task Force put out a call for proposals in October 2020. They received twenty proposals from institutions varying in size and scope. A review committee recommended this diverse set of projects based on proposal quality, need, and adoption potential within PALNI schools and beyond. 

PALNI will coordinate peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services to assist the faculty in their textbook creation.  Each project will also be supported by a local project manager to monitor progress and answer questions.  The open textbooks will be published on the PALNI Press supported Pressbooks platform alongside other faculty-contributed works like Brass Techniques and Pedagogy, by Butler University faculty member Brian Weidner, and will ultimately be submitted to the Open Textbook Library and OER repositories.

The textbooks will be tentatively available by Fall 2023.

Congratulations to the awardees: 

Author(s)InstitutionDepartmentTextbook Working Title
Nathan WillowbyAnderson UniversitySchool of Theology and Christian MinistryMorality for Professionals: Developing a Moral Conscience through Christian Virtue Ethics
Scott Kaschner & Amber RussellButler UniversityMathematics, Statistics, and Actuarial ScienceLinear Transformations on Vector Spaces
James McGrathButler UniversityPhilosophy, Religion, and ClassicsThe Bible and Music
Gabriel VanoverHanover CollegeTheatreCenter Stage
Paul Bible & Lucas MoserMarian UniversityMathematicsAn Open Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms
Yuriko Ikeda & Julia BaumgardtMarian UniversityLanguages and CulturesComunidades

PALNI Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Digitization Grant Update

PALNI’s 2020 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, Collaboratively Preserving Rare Scholarship in Religiously Affiliated Libraries: PALNI Last Copies is well underway! With the goal of digitizing 240 scarcely held circulating monographs from PALNI’s supported institutions via the Internet Archive in Fort Wayne, we’ve made great progress, despite getting a late start due to complications with the 2020 grant cycle.

Project Highlights

  • November 2020: Hired Project Assistant, Sarah Newell. Sarah’s been a great help with data analysis and general project assistance so far, and will be building a collection of scanned titles in CONTENTdm. 
  • December 2020: Started distribution of digitization nominee lists to directors. 
  • January 2021: Digitization commenced at Internet Archive.
  • February 2021: An initial set of 38 books was scanned by Internet Archive and added to the project collection on the Internet Archive site.
  • March 2021: A total of 100 books from 13 schools have been digitized so far.

Project Evaluation Activities to Date

  • We are tracking the number of books and pages digitized by reviewing the Internet Archive site (100 books, 13 collections) and invoices.  So far we’ve been invoiced for 38 books, containing 9,210 pages, and 2 foldouts.
  • We are collecting usage data via the Internet Archive’s Collection Statistics (seen here) and “all-time views” counter.  The collection has been viewed 601 times, with viewers from Indiana, California, Germany, Israel, United Kingdom, and China. Anglo-Saxons from Palestine, or, The imperial mystery of the lost tribes, from Taylor University, has been viewed the most — at 35 times since uploaded on February 8th, 2021.
  • We are evaluating discoverability of the resources by searching titles in Google.  Internet Archive records from our first round of digitization in February are appearing in the first page of results in a Google search.

Next Steps

Before the end of the project we hope to digitize an additional 140 titles.  We’ll also check and download collection files from Internet Archive, build a CONTENTdm collection, and consult about best practices for Discovery integration.  In the final phase, Project Wrap-Up, we will finish our evaluation and market the completed project.  The final grant report is due to the State Library in August, 2021. 

The project makes possible future research and other scholarly activities. Digital scholarship projects focused on the books themselves using new methods such as text analysis could be initiated, as well as research around the idea of resource scarcity and holdings in Indiana and the advantages of shared collection studies to identify rare materials in need of preservation.

Many thanks to the PALNI-supported institutions for their participation!

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Indiana State Library.

Butler Faculty Member Launches Innovative Fiction Writing Journal for Academics

Butler University faculty James McGrath is the founding editor of AcademFic, a new open access periodical dedicated to publishing fiction by academics outside areas that include writing in their academic and professional activity. Using the PALNI’s Open Journal Systems (OJS) and team support, and with assistance from Butler University Libraries, McGrath was able to launch the journal on an open-access platform eliminating the financial barrier to creating and accessing new issues and articles.

McGrath shares the inspiration behind AcademFic saying, “When I first had the idea to create a place that would publish works by academics outside of the field of creative writing […] I soon discovered that it was of great interest to many. There is a burgeoning area of publishing novels that seek to explore subjects like biblical studies through the writing of historical fiction, including quite a few penned by academics in the field. In addition to everything else, writing fiction can be a way to convey historical information to a wider audience. It can also be a way to test our [professional academics’] historical reconstructions and hypotheses.”

The first volume exemplifies McGrath’s vision and includes stories ranging widely in length, genre, and professional fields. The journal was made possible through the PALNI Press, which hosts a suite of publishing platforms.  All faculty, staff, and students affiliated with a PALNI supported institution may propose an open access publication for the PALNI Press that supports the teaching and learning objectives of their institution. See press.palni.org for more information.

To view AcademFic,  please visit: https://press.palni.org/ojs/index.php/academfic/index

Quilt Exhibit Goes Digital with Open-Access Platform

Mennonite Historical Library and Goshen College Librarian Tillie Yoder opens up digital access to a unique collection of quilts by the College Mennonite Church using the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana’s (PALNI) Omeka platform service. Using this open-access software to digitize the physical collection exhibit, the public can view the special collection online, for free.

“I am grateful that PALNI provides access to Omeka hosting and enjoyed tinkering with the many options the platform provides,” shares Yoder. “Using Omeka enabled us to create a professional online exhibit at a time when access to our in-person exhibit is restricted. We anticipate digitizing past exhibits as well and look forward to seeing how our partner libraries use the platform in their own ways.”

The online exhibit was co-sponsored by the Mennonite Historical Library and Goshen College Good Library. The public can view photos of the various quilts and the corresponding physical display, a list of the exhibit leaders, and a video showcasing the physical exhibit alongside interviews and statements from several quilters.

PALNI’s Omeka service is made possible through the efforts of the Publishing Services Administration Team (PSAT), which administers the PALNI Press.  The PALNI Press openly publishes the scholarly and creative content of PALNI-supported institutions.

To view the “Quilts from College Mennonite Church” collection exhibit, please see: https://press.palni.org/omeka/exhibits/show/quilts2020

PALSave Textbook Creation Grants Program: Call for Proposals

The PALSave Admin team is thrilled to announce the launch of the PALSave Textbook Creation Grants Program, which will fund the creation of five open textbooks!

Faculty members are invited to submit textbook creation proposals for courses they teach. Textbooks may cover any discipline at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. We seek proposals for complete textbooks geared toward a specific field of study, which meet the inclusion criteria for the Open Textbook Library.

Grant funding of up to $6,500 is available per accepted proposal, with an individual author maximum of $5,000. While joint authorship proposals are welcome, the lead author must be a faculty member employed at a PALNI-supported institution. PALNI will coordinate peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services.

Before applying, please review the full Call for Proposal document, which includes the proposal requirements, application form, grantee obligations, and review criteria. This document, and more information about the program, can be found on the PALSave Website.

To apply, send proposal requirements listed in the Call for Proposal document to palsave@palni.edu by January 15, 2021. Notifications on proposal acceptance will be sent March 1, 2021.

Butler Faculty Member Publishes an Open Textbook with PALSave Program

Butler University faculty Brian Weidner reduces the student textbook cost burden by creating an open access book for his course, “Brass Techniques 1,” after receiving a PALSave Course Redesign Grant.  Using an open-access textbook, each student in this course will save $50 with a total savings of $550 for Fall 2020.

Brass Techniques and Pedagogy Book Cover (Author Brian Weidner)

PALSave combats rising textbook costs at the twenty-four PALNI supported institutions using free materials like open educational resources (OER) instead of expensive commercial textbooks. Along with receiving a Course Redesign Grant, Weidner was the first in the consortium to use Pressbooks, an open-source, open-access publishing platform provided by PALNI, to create his textbook. Pressbooks allows editing and remixing of existing material, providing faculty with the ability to customize their course materials to meet their students’ needs.

About the course redesign process, Weidner states, “Redesigning this course around a custom-made OER has allowed me to flip the classroom as the textbook meets the exact needs that my students have. While it has taken me time to build a brand new text as there were no open textbooks out there already, my students have expressed how excited they are to have a resource that they do not need to pay for, and colleagues at other institutions have discussed adopting this text to support their students as well. I look forward to having this text improved by others who choose to use it in the future.”

PALNI is hosting and supporting Pressbooks for current Course Redesign Grant awardees, and this fall the service will be available to any faculty member at a PALNI-supported institution. To encourage faculty to create their own, original open textbooks, PALSave Textbook Creation Grants will also be announced this fall.

PALNI’s Pressbooks service is made possible by two of its collaborative groups, the OER Publishing Task Force and the Publishing Services Administration Team.  The PALSave program itself is supported with funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

To view Brian Weidner’s open textbook, “Brass Techniques and Pedagogy” please see: https://pressbooks.palni.org/brasstechniquesandpedagogy/

PALNI Library Publishing Task Force Report

Library publishing programs help libraries more actively participate in the scholarly communications cycle, advance open access, and meet local needs related to the creation and dissemination of scholarship. PALNI’s Library Publishing Task Force recently wrapped up its exploration of this emerging consortial service area and prepared a report to discuss its findings and recommendations. Read and download the report here: PALNI Library Publishing Task Force Report