Butler faculty release new open textbook through PALSave

Book cover with abstract graphic design that reads: Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces, Scott Kaschner and Amber Russell

Two Butler University faculty members have released a new peer-reviewed open textbook through the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI). 

In “Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces,” authors Scott Kaschner, Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematics, and Amber Russell, Associate Professor of Mathematics, set out to redefine the way students learn linear algebra. The book is one of the first to be published with a Textbook Creation Grant from the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning program, and as an open educational resource—OER—it is entirely free to students. 

About the Book

Unlike conventional linear algebra books that plunge into solving systems of linear equations and the associated procedural skills, Kaschner and Russell’s approach focuses on building a solid conceptual foundation. The book delves into the core elements of vector spaces and linear transformations, paving the way for a richer, more practical mastery of the subject matter.

“Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces” maintains all the key concepts, skills, and applications found in traditional texts but offers students a more meaningful learning experience. The book is tailored for undergraduate linear algebra courses and is designed to facilitate the flipped classroom model.

Key features include:

  • Continuous Narrative: The book provides a continuous narrative that illuminates the big picture, helping students grasp the material’s context and importance.
  • Explorations: Throughout each section, quick “Explorations” are presented. These allow students to actively engage with the material as they read, enhancing comprehension and retention.
  • Section Overviews: Homework assignments and worksheets are included for each section, enabling in-class practice and reinforcement of concepts.

Kaschner and Russell received a PALSave Textbook Creation Grant for the project in 2021. Offered to faculty from PALNI-supported institutions, the grant allows educators to develop open textbooks that are freely available online, making them part of a nationwide effort to reduce the cost of course materials for college students. Financed with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., each grant provides a maximum of $6,500 per project or $5,000 per author. Currently, there are 15 grant-funded titles published or in production through PALNI.

“These authors’ dedication to creating accessible educational resources not only enriches the learning experience for students but also embodies the spirit of knowledge sharing and inclusivity in education,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director and PALSave program lead. “It’s a true testament to the positive impact that collaboration and open access can have on higher education. PALNI is grateful to them, and to our funding organization, Lilly Endowment, for enabling us to support them in the process.” 

Project Manager and Butler University Scholarly Communications Associate Cale Erwin and PALNI Publishing Project Coordinator Heather Myers also supported the creation of the book.

“Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces” by Scott Kaschner and Amber Russell is available for free through the PALNI Press. 

Visit PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning online to learn more about Textbook Creation Grants and other OER opportunities offered through PALNI.

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About the PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program

With support from Lilly Endowment Inc., PALNI’s PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program awards funding to faculty members from PALNI-supported institutions to create open textbooks.

Faculty are periodically invited to submit creation grant proposals for the courses they teach. Textbooks may cover any discipline at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. PALNI seeks proposals for textbooks geared toward specific fields of study that meet the inclusion criteria for the Open Textbook Library. 

The PALNI Open Educational Resource (OER) Publishing Task Force selects projects for funding based on proposal quality, clearly defined goals, need within the current open access body of work, and adoption potential within PALNI schools and beyond.

PALNI coordinates peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services to assist grant recipients in their textbook creation. Each textbook is also supported by a local project manager to monitor progress and answer questions throughout development. The open textbooks are published on the PALNI Press-supported Pressbooks platform alongside other faculty-contributed works and are ultimately submitted to the Open Textbook Library and OER repositories.

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.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage the increased need for online support while reducing costs. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College

PALNI joins CrossRef and DataCite to enhance scholarly communication

person's hand holding a pen and moving a mouse next to a keyboard in front of a computer monitor on a desk.

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) has joined two renowned organizations, CrossRef and Datacite, showcasing the consortium’s dedication to enhancing scholarly research and knowledge sharing. 

CrossRef and Datacite are nonprofit Digital Object Identifier (DOI) Registration Agencies that overlap in terms of missions and communities—the two organizations collaborate on numerous initiatives that aim to provide foundational infrastructure for research outputs. 

  • CrossRef makes research outputs easy to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse with the purpose of making scholarly communication better. They do so by rallying their community of users; tagging and sharing metadata; running an open infrastructure; advancing technology; and making tools and services—all to help put research in context. 
  • DataCite’s mission is to be the world’s leading provider of persistent identifiers for research. Through their portfolio of services, they provide the means to create, find, cite, connect, and use research. DataCite seeks to create value and develop community-driven, innovative, open, integrated, usable, and sustainable services for research.

By joining CrossRef and DataCite, PALNI aims to empower its 24 supported institutions with enhanced access to a vast network of scholarly resources and research data while facilitating the seamless sharing and discovery of knowledge within the academic community. These partnerships will allow PALNI to create DOIs for scholarly content created by PALNI-supported faculty, students, and staff and disseminated via PALNI Press platforms. Supported scholarly outputs include journal articles, textbooks, gray literature, and the like. “These new memberships exemplify PALNI libraries’ dedication to supporting scholarly excellence—to work together sharing people, expertise, and resources, enabling small libraries to participate in the scholarly community,” says Kirsten Leonard, PALNI Executive Director. 

Key benefits of the partnerships include:

  • Enhanced Discoverability: Through CrossRef’s extensive network of scholarly publishers and DataCite’s repository of research datasets, PALNI institutions will experience improved discoverability of academic content, enabling them to access and contribute to a broader range of high-quality research.
  • Streamlined Citation Processes: Integrating DOIs from CrossRef and DataCite will simplify the citation of research articles and datasets, enhancing the accuracy and ease of referencing and ensuring proper credit to the original authors and data contributors.
  • Increased Interconnectivity: PALNI’s collaboration with CrossRef and DataCite will strengthen the interconnectivity among the library publishing community, fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge exchange.

“We’re pleased to partner with CrossRef and DataCite, as this collaboration aligns with PALNI’s objectives to advance research, teaching, and learning through engaging with the library publishing community,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director. “By connecting our supported institutions to these important organizations, the PALNI community will experience an enriched research environment, fueling innovation and scholarly discovery.”

For more information about CrossRef and DataCite, visit the organizations online.

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About CrossRef

Crossref makes research objects easy to find, cite, link, assess, and reuse. We’re a not-for-profit membership organization that exists to make scholarly communications better. We rally the community; tag and share metadata; run an open infrastructure; play with technology; and make tools and services—all to help put research in context. Visit crossref.org for further information.

About DataCite

DataCite is a leading global nonprofit organization that provides persistent identifiers (DOIs) for research data and other research outputs. Organizations within the research community join DataCite as members to be able to assign DOIs to all their research outputs. This way, their outputs become discoverable and associated metadata is made available to the community. DataCite then develops additional services to improve the DOI management experience, making it easier for our members to connect and share their DOIs with the broader research ecosystem and to assess the use of their DOIs within that ecosystem. DataCite is an active participant in the research community and promotes data sharing and citation through community-building efforts and outreach activities.

About PALNI

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage the increased need for online support while reducing costs. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College

PALNI and PALCI launch new Hyku for Consortia toolkit and redesigned website

Graphic design of a desktop monitor and keyboard with the Hyku for Consortia toolkit website on the screen

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. and DREXEL HILL, Pa.—The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) and The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI) are proud to announce the launch of a redesigned Hyku for Consortia website and new collaborative repository toolkit. 

Developed as part of the IMLS grant-funded Hyku for Consortia initiative, these resources provide new assets and best practices to assist consortia and groups of libraries in creating and managing their own digital repositories. The revamped website offers information and demonstrations for those seeking to deploy institutional repository solutions, while the toolkit provides guidance on communication and engagement, documentation and training, staffing and service models, governance, and technical support. 

“Our goal in launching the new Hyku for Consortia toolkit and redesigned website is to provide consortia and library groups with a replicable model for shared repository services,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director and Hyku for Consortia Project/Product Manager. “These tools are designed to help groups tackle the challenges that come with establishing and facilitating an effective shared repository. The toolkit offers practical examples from our project that can be applied to any platform, such as staffing and workflow management, collaborative leadership and funding, and user sustainability. The website complements the toolkit by providing detailed information on the Hyku for Consortia initiative and further opportunities for participation.”

Why repositories?

Repositories play a vital role in library infrastructure, enabling access to various digital materials created by students, faculty, staff, and researchers. With ongoing budget constraints, libraries seeking to deploy repositories are increasingly turning to consortia for support.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded a grant to PALNI and PALCI in 2021 to enhance the affordability and flexibility of Hyku adoption in a scalable, multi-tenant environment. Hyku for Consortia expands on the existing Hyku software, which was developed by the Samvera community. It continuously integrates feedback from Hyku Commons users, with development support from Software Services by Scientist.com.

These advancements are then shared back with the open-source community. 

“Community-owned infrastructure, such as Hyku, empowers us to shape scalable solutions through collaboration and partnerships, surpassing the limitations of proprietary software,” say Kirsten Leonard, PALNI Executive Director, and Jill Morris, PALCI Executive Director, in a joint statement. “The Hyku for Consortia initiative leverages the expertise of not only the project staff but our users, who provide continuous feedback that informs development decisions. By working together, we reduce costs, avoid duplication of efforts, and provide essential resources for all involved.”

The Hyku for Consortia toolkit and new website follow a recent major system upgrade, which included enhancements in areas such as reporting analytics and metadata flexibility. The next phases of the Hyku for Consortia project will focus on user experience research and data collection to identify and prioritize additional functionality improvements, particularly those that may hinder Hyku adoption.

For more project and product information, news and updates, visit the Hyku for Consortia website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana, Inc. (PALNI)

PALNI is a non-profit organization supporting collaboration for library and information services to the libraries of its twenty-three supported institutions. Over time, the library deans and directors who sit on the PALNI board have adjusted the organization’s strategic direction as the internet and information services landscape has changed. PALNI has expanded beyond providing a resource management system to sharing expertise in many areas, including strategic planning, reference, information flue, outreach, data management, and configuration, and has identified greater collaboration in acquisitions as a key goal. www.palni.edu

About The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI)

The PALCI organization was originally founded as the ‘Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.,” and was formed in 1996 as a grassroots federation of 35 academic libraries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Today, PALCI is known as Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation, with membership consisting of 74 academic and research libraries, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and New York. PALCI’s mission is to enable cost-effective and sustainable access to information resources and services for academic libraries in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. PALCI Members serve over 800,000 students, faculty, and staff at member institutions, through a variety of programs, including the highly-regarded EZBorrow resource sharing service. PALCI also serves as the home for the Affordable Learning PA program, creating a community of practice for open textbooks and related educational resources. https://palci.org

About Samvera

Samvera is a vibrant and welcoming community of information and technology professionals who share challenges, build expertise, and create sustainable, best-in-class solutions, making the world’s digital collections accessible now and into the future. Samvera believes that no single system can provide the full range of repository-based solutions for a given institution’s needs and that no single institution can resource the development of a full range of solutions on its own. Working together, the Samvera Community creates sustainable solutions using a common infrastructure within which there is the flexibility to tailor solutions to local demands and workflows. Samvera software is free and open source, available under an Apache 2 license. Visit samvera.org to learn more. 

About Scientist.com

Scientist.com’s mission is to empower and connect scientists worldwide. By transforming the way scientific research is performed, our Science as a Service® platform accelerates discoveries that cure disease, address climate change and help secure global food and energy supplies. We combine sophisticated AI technology with white-glove Research Concierge® support to enable researchers to run more innovative experiments faster and cheaper. Scientist.com acquired Notch8, a San Diego-based company offering application and software development services, in 2022. The acquisition of the company—now called Software Services (SoftServ)—enabled Scientist.com to begin offering web services—such as web and mobile application development, code audits, framework upgrades, deployment optimization and monitoring and support—to its existing global network of researchers and service providers.

PALNI awards grants to fund eight open textbooks

Textbook Creation Grant graphic with PALSave logo in upper left. A photo of an ebook being pulled from a bookshelf is on the right. A light green box that reads: Eight new projects funded! is in the bottom left.

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) has awarded PALSave Textbook Creation Grants to fund eight open textbooks from faculty authors at its supported institutions. The grants will allow these educators to develop open textbooks that are freely available online, making them part of a statewide effort to reduce the cost of course materials for college students. Financed with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., authors will receive up to $6,500 per project.

The grants—awarded as part of the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning program—are given in overlapping two-year cohorts. Titles and authors most recently selected include:

  • “Public Speaking and Democratic Participation: Speech, Deliberation, and Analysis in the Civic Realm, 2nd ed.” by Jennifer Abbott, Professor of Rhetoric at Wabash College, and co-authors Todd McDorman, Dean at Wabash College, and David Timmerman, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Professor of Rhetoric at Carthage College
  • “Curriculum Development for Christian Ministry,” by Karen Jones, Professor of Christian Thought and Practice at Huntington University
  • “The Exciting Dynamics of State and Local Government,” by Laura Merrifield Wilson, Associate Professor of History and Political Science, and co-author Greg Schufeldt, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Indianapolis
  • “Leveraging Data Visualization to Communicate Effectively,” by Jennie Mitchell, Professor Emerita at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, and co-author Trent Deckard, storytelling expert and lecturer at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business
  • “An Introduction to Legal Philosophy,” by Peter Murphy, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Indianapolis
  • “Cultures and Civilizations of the Hispanic Countries,” by Angela Pacheco-Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Spanish at Taylor University
  • “Concepts of Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research Methods,” by Cibele Webb, Associate Professor and co-authors Nicole Mentag and Lori Pajakowski, Assistant Professors, Department of Nursing Science, at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame
  • “Comparative Vertebrate and Human Anatomy: Ecology, Evolution, and Function,” by Vanessa Young, Assistant Professor of Biology at Saint Mary’s College, and co-authors Bill Ryerson, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, at Saint Anselm College, and Lisa Whitenack, Associate Professor, Biology, at Allegheny College

“PALNI is excited to award these grants, as they recognize the unwavering commitment of faculty authors from our supported institutions toward enhancing the affordability and accessibility of education for students,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI’s Scholarly Communications Director and PALSave project lead. “The authors’ dedication to making textbook affordability a reality makes a big impact—not just in Indiana, but across the globe—and we look forward to supporting them in the process.”

Grant recipients are already working to produce the open textbooks, which are set to be published in 2025. 

Grant Recipient Statements

Jennifer Abbott, Wabash University
(Co-authors: Todd McDorman and David Timmerman)

“I’m so grateful to PALNI for enabling us to revise our public speaking textbook as an open educational resource. We believe the book’s emphasis on democratic participation through ethical and productive speech is more relevant than ever. The grant will help us update, improve, and shorten the first edition. PALNI’s investment will also help students save money and access the information they need to thrive in their public speaking classes.”

Karen Jones, Huntington University 

“I am honored to receive this opportunity from PALNI. It is a gift to receive support for writing a textbook that will synthesize the presentations, resources, lectures, and assignments I have crafted throughout my teaching career. I am most encouraged by the opportunity this will provide for students across the globe with little to no access to academic resources. Providing a digital textbook free of charge is something I could not do without the support of the PALSave Textbook Creation Grant.”

Laura Merrifield Wilson, University of Indianapolis
(Co-author: Greg Schufeldt)

“This grant will enable us to develop an engaging new text focused on the dynamics of state and local government. Because the text will be free, it will be more easily accessible for students and also a great resource for instructors or even practitioners looking to better understand the government around them. We are grateful for the funding and excited to develop this new contribution to the political science curriculum.”

Jennie Mitchell, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
(Co-author: Trent Deckard)

“Storytelling with data is not an inherent skill and students can easily become lost in a plethora of visualization choices. In some cases, students become enamored with technology and lose sight of good design principles, leading to the likelihood that the audience will become disconnected from the story. This textbook will teach a variety of decision-making tools, including ways to visualize data to minimize complexity and maximize audience understanding. Both Trent and I are thrilled at this opportunity.”

Peter Murphy, University of Indianapolis

“I believe that OER textbooks are the future. And it is a good future—as much as possible, people should not have to pay to learn. My goal is to produce a fully interactive text that uses lots of examples and links to a wide variety of online sources. The end result should deeply engage anyone who is interested in understanding the foundations of law, and ways of morally evaluating specific laws.

Angela Pacheco-Gonzalez, Taylor University

“I am excited to curate innovative and interdisciplinary content for my book and to make it available to students of Spanish for free. This is a book project I have been working on for years and this is the perfect opportunity to share it with all. Students will be able to acquire cultural learning about the Hispanic world through texts, videos, etc. and to improve their Spanish as well. The textbook will contain fundamental content for any student majoring or minoring in Spanish. I am thankful for PALNI’s initiative to provide an outlet for professors to write their own books and make them fully accessible.”

Cibele Webb, Nicole Mentag and Lori Pajakowski, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame

“Nursing research and evidence-based practice are part of the curriculum in both undergraduate and graduate levels of study and for any area of nursing practice. Considering its wide potential for adoption, we teamed up to co-author a book on nursing research methods and concepts for evidence-based practice after noticing a need for an open-resource textbook on this subject matter. We are excited to produce an accessible text that intentionally helps learners understand the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the research process and provides tools for translating research to nursing practice to improve healthcare outcomes.”

Vanessa Young, Saint Mary’s College
(Co-authors: Bill Ryerson and Lisa Whitenack)

“We are honored to have received a 2023 PALSave Textbook Creation Grant, and are excited to contribute to the development of new open source educational materials. Current resources for teaching comparative anatomy are limited in the human element—both in terms of including human anatomy and in representation of the humans that practice in the broader field of comparative anatomy. Our book will draw on recent work and faculty expertise to provide an updated, diverse, inclusive, and affordable textbook for comparative vertebrate and human anatomy faculty and students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are hopeful that this book, with its  greater emphasis on the people who have and currently work in the field, more comprehensive female anatomy content, and LGBTQ+ inclusive approach will provide direct access to original science and make the fields of comparative and human anatomy more accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds.” 

About PALSave Textbook Creation Grants

At the start of the program in 2019, PALSave’s initial goal was to publish five or more textbooks by late 2023. PALNI received added funding from Lilly Endowment in 2022 to support PALSave, which has allowed the program to award 10 additional textbook creation grants. Projects were selected for funding based on proposal quality, clearly defined goals, need within the current open access body of work, and adoption potential within PALNI schools and beyond.

PALNI coordinates peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services to assist grant recipients in their textbook creation. Each textbook is also supported by a local project manager to monitor progress and answer questions throughout development. The open textbooks are published on the PALNI Press-supported Pressbooks platform alongside other faculty-contributed works, and will ultimately be submitted to the Open Textbook Library and OER repositories. 

Several PALSave-funded titles are currently in production, with the program’s first open textbook, “The Bible and Music,” by Dr. James McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Butler University, published in January 2023.

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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.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage the increased need for online support while reducing costs. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions 

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College

Q&A with Brian Weidner: Revolutionizing teaching and learning through OER

Pictured is Dr. Brian Weidner


Dr. Brian Weidner, Assistant Professor of Music Education at Butler University, believes that all students should have equal access to high quality learning resources. As a faculty member at a PALNI-supported institution, Weidner produces open educational resources (OER) via the PALNI Press so that all students—not just those who can afford a textbook—can get the most out of his courses.

“OER provides a platform from which we can revolutionize teaching and learning by increasing access to high quality educational materials,” Weidner says. “Above all else, it provides education with equity in mind and lowers the barriers for learning and for sharing knowledge.” 

Here, Weidner shares his experience in producing and teaching with OER. 

Author background

Please share the titles of the open educational resources you’ve produced.

The textbook “Brass Techniques and Pedagogy” (2020). I have also created several smaller materials, including chapter-sized supplements for existing OER to fill the gap that exists in the literature.

Please tell us more about your role at Butler.

Currently, I teach all undergraduate courses in instrumental music education, as well as undergraduate courses on administration and composition and arranging. I also am the coordinator for our Master of Music in Music Education program, and teach graduate coursework in philosophy, history, research methods, curriculum design, and assessment.

What encouraged you to explore OER as an option for students?

My impetus for creating open textbooks was two part. First, I am constantly searching for ways to make college more affordable for my students. I have little control over most of those expenses, but one that I can control is textbook costs, which first led me to investigate OER for my classes. Second, I created this textbook (and am working on an outline for a second) to fill a gap in existing materials. When possible, I choose to use OER first and published resources second. For my brass techniques course, I found that there was no existing text that met my needs (specifically, a text that included extensive video resources to facilitate a flipped classroom approach).

Did you use OER in your classroom before creating an open textbook through PALNI?

I had already been using OER in some of my courses before creating my open textbook. At this point, I only teach two (out of 10) courses that utilize a published print resource. The others utilize OER or library resources, as these provide a more cost-effective approach for my students and greater flexibility for me to use a wider variety of materials that meet my instructional needs.

About the texts

For which courses have you published open textbooks and why those particular courses?

I have two courses that utilize the same textbook, Brass Techniques I and II. “Brass Techniques and Pedagogy” was created specifically for these classes, as no prior OER existed for them. I had for several years used a published book that met some of the requirements for the courses, but which I extensively supplemented. I found that my students seldom kept this book, despite the fact that it was best used as a resource once they entered the classroom as teachers. I wanted a resource for the class that included audio and video samples that students could continue to use once they started their in-school clinicals and eventual teaching professions.

I use a flipped classroom model that has students learning the fundamentals as their out-of-class practice, allowing the classroom to be a workshop space where we learn how to teach core concepts through experiences. OER was an ideal platform for this, as the zero-cost of the materials and online format meant that students had access to the textbook after the course ended without any expenditure, and it allowed for video to be embedded immediately in the text, providing students with multiple ways to access material and understand the content.

How has the textbook been received by students?

Most importantly, they all have the textbook on the first day of class. I am accustomed to students saying they cannot buy texts until the first paycheck comes in or parents send extra money along. Now, they have the book the week before class, and several have already started to acquaint themselves with it. 

They have appreciated the fact that the content corresponds to the way the class is taught and that additions are made when needed based on progress in the class. They have also appreciated the versatility that the format provides with embedded multimedia. Some have commented that they wish they had a “real” book for the class, but the benefits outweigh the expectations.

What are the biggest benefits of using OER versus traditional textbooks?

As a teacher, the biggest benefit is that the students immediately have the textbook without concerns of accessibility and equity and that the content is immediately adaptable to my curriculum. When I have students purchase a text, I feel that I am responsible to use the text fully, as the students have made the investment. By using OER, I can add and subtract from the text. 

In several courses, I have students using two or three different textbooks or multiple articles. The customization that OER provides without additional expense for my students is of utmost importance.

Creation process

What has the experience of open publishing been like?

PALNI made the publication process simple through the PressBooks platform. The OER community makes soliciting feedback easy, as those who use the materials are able to comment on them and provide public transparency to that feedback. Best of all, I have continued to edit my materials based on that feedback, so the text continues to become stronger and more effective with time.

In what ways did your campus library support you in the process?

Butler’s library staff connected me immediately with PALNI upon starting discussions about the creation of this book. Both Butler and PALNI have been tremendously responsive about any questions I have had and have offered support to distribute materials further, provide exposure for my work, and advance the publication to improve access.

Is there anything about the process that has surprised you, or benefited you or your students in unexpected ways?

The community that is forming around OER was not something I expected. I appreciate the ability to get peer review, just as I would if this book was traditionally distributed. The benefit here is that the materials remain easily accessible for further editing and redistribution. Within six months of first publishing this book, without any significant promotion, it had been adopted at numerous large programs in music education and I received feedback from their faculty, which has in turn improved the text and made it even more useful for other programs.

What is one piece of advice you would give other faculty looking to publish open textbooks?

Start small with what you see as the hole in your professional and academic literature. OER functions best when it provides an option for bringing flexibility and diversity to our instructional materials. Begin by adopting OER into your classroom, and then look for the spots where there are no materials. That serves as the starting point for your creation.

To learn more about PALNI open publishing, visit the PALNI Press website.

Q&A with OER all-star Andrea Bearman

Pictured is Andrea Bearman in front of a brick wall smiling

Andrea Bearman is an all-star when it comes to open educational resources (OER). As Director of Instructional Design and Development for Trine University’s online campus, Bearman plays an essential role in faculty and course development. Only two years into her position, she has built an outstanding 12 open textbooks (and counting!) for Trine faculty through the PALNI Press, and has worked on more than 100 courses incorporating OER. In 2022, Bearman earned a PALSave Open Educator Award for her efforts in creating freely accessible materials available to students at PALNI-supported schools and scholars worldwide. Here, she shares her experiences with OER and its impact.

Please tell us more about your role at Trine.

My role boils down into two main parts: faculty development and course development. It entails training faculty on how to develop courses, how to engage students more, and how to build OER or incorporate it in their classes. I do a lot of research finding existing OER for instructors, and in some situations I build open textbooks for them. I have built materials for 30 faculty members and am currently using OER that I’ve made for the faculty courses I teach. 

What encouraged you to explore OER as an option for students and faculty?

One of my responsibilities is to be the subject matter expert on OER. I didn’t know what OER was prior to starting this position, so I took the Creative Commons Certificate course and in it they have this fantastic, openly licensed textbook. I loved it and thought, if I want faculty to adopt OER I have to set an example and provide materials for them to look at. So I began building textbooks for courses I was developing. I then started collaborating with our librarians and other departments to build textbooks where they just currently didn’t exist or where an improvement was needed.

How much has OER use grown on your campus since starting this position?

We went from having 60 OER courses to over 150, which is a huge jump in just a year! It’s incredible.

How have students been receiving open textbooks?

We have received some really powerful feedback from student perception surveys. Many said that because they weren’t buying textbooks they could afford healthcare or their medications, or that they could get their car fixed, or focus on paying for textbooks in other courses. One student even said that saving money on textbooks allowed them to buy more instant ramen, which I loved. It’s fantastic that saving this money allows them to improve their lives in other ways.

In what ways has the library at Trine supported you in this process?

Jill Noyes (Director of Information Services) and I collaborated on a research book, and any time I have a copyright question, Jill or Kristina Brewer (Director for Graduate and Distance Information Services) will help me. The library staff has been supportive in the process. 

What has your experience with the PALNI Press been like?

I looked at several other platforms before I knew that creating OER was possible through PALNI, so I’ve done my homework. I like how PALNI Pressbooks looks, and it’s very user friendly and intuitive. There have been a few times when I’ve needed to ask the PALNI scholarly communications team for help, but overall I have had minimal issues.

What advice would you give to others who are looking to produce OER for the first time?

The best piece of advice I can give is to take the Creative Commons Certificate course because it’s awesome. I would also say, just be patient with yourself and give yourself some mercy, especially if it’s your first time. I definitely have a system for textbook creation now, and it’s much easier. 

What types of OER would you like to produce or assist with in the future?

I would like to help with more engineering course materials because I think I would enjoy the challenge. We are also going to be launching a doctorate of instructional technology, and I would love to see some of those classes use OER. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

I know faculty really appreciate the stipends and grants that PALNI offers for open textbook reviews and creation. I am currently helping with PALSave textbook grants and I’m looking forward to seeing what those develop. 

To learn more about PALNI open publishing, visit the PALNI Press website.

PALSave Textbook Creation Grant program releases first open textbook, “The Bible and Music”

What do works like Handel’s “Messiah” and Bach’s “Passions” have in common with contemporary songs like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” or Kendrick Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost?”

Like much of the world’s favorite music, these songs draw inspiration from biblical stories, and a new, free and open textbook published by the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) offers a unique learning approach to the subject.

In “The Bible and Music,” the first open textbook published with a grant from the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning program, author James McGrath, Ph.D., Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, explores the intersection of faith and music while inviting readers to experience the material firsthand through interactive video and audio clips.

“The chance first to teach a course on the Bible and music, then write a cutting-edge textbook on the topic, has been a dream come true,” says McGrath. “My career has been in the academic study of the Bible and religion. Alongside that has always been a love of listening to and playing music I never did anything with professionally, but that has been profoundly important to me nonetheless. Teaching the course provided the opportunity to figure out how best to explore this intersection for an audience that may not have a background with either the Bible or music. Writing the book has given me the opportunity to share what I have learned and what I teach, and to make it available not just for my future students, but anyone interested.”

“The Bible and Music” offers what no previous textbook on the subject has before. It provides readers with an overview of the highly influential—yet sometimes surprising—connection between song and faith, with material dating back from ancient Israelite music and the musical notation in ancient Hebrew manuscripts, to the reception of the Bible in classical, rock, hip hop, country, and other genres of today. 

Offered digitally, it is the first textbook of its kind to engage readers in actively listening to the subject matter as they follow the readings. Best of all, it does this as an open educational resource (OER), meaning it costs readers—primarily college students and their instructors—nothing. 

McGrath was one of the first open textbook authors to apply for and receive a PALSave Textbook Creation Grant from PALNI in 2021. Offered to faculty from PALNI-supported institutions, the grant allows educators to develop open textbooks that are freely available online, making them part of a nationwide effort to reduce the cost of course materials for college students. Financed with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., each grant provides a maximum of $6,500 per project or $5,000 per author.

As an inaugural grant recipient, McGrath agreed to have his book serve as the pilot project for the entire Textbook Creation Grant program. Since the release of McGrath’s book, there are now eight grant-funded titles in production with seven additional titles to be selected for creation in March 2023. 

“It is extremely rewarding to see faculty authors like Dr. McGrath, who is so committed to creating high quality, low-cost course material, receive funding for a project and then see it come to fruition,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director. “It is because of these educators that textbook affordability is becoming a reality. PALNI is grateful to them, and to our funding organization, Lilly Endowment, for enabling us to support them in the process.” 

PALNI’s OER Publishing Task Force, including Project Manager and Butler University Librarian Jennifer Coronado and PALNI Publishing Project Coordinator Heather Myers, supported the creation of the book.

“The Bible and Music” by James McGrath is available for free through the PALNI Press. 

Visit PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning online to learn more about Textbook Creation Grants and other OER opportunities offered through PALNI.

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About the PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program

With support from Lilly Endowment Inc., PALNI’s PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program awards funding to faculty members from PALNI-supported institutions to create open textbooks.

Faculty are periodically invited to submit creation grant proposals for the courses they teach. Textbooks may cover any discipline at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. PALNI seeks proposals for textbooks geared toward specific fields of study that meet the inclusion criteria for the Open Textbook Library. 

The PALNI Open Educational Resource (OER) Publishing Task Force selects projects for funding based on proposal quality, clearly defined goals, need within the current open access body of work, and adoption potential within PALNI schools and beyond.

PALNI coordinates peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services to assist grant recipients in their textbook creation. Each textbook is also supported by a local project manager to monitor progress and answer questions throughout development. The open textbooks are published on the PALNI Press-supported Pressbooks platform alongside other faculty-contributed works and are ultimately submitted to the Open Textbook Library and OER repositories.

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.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage the increased need for online support while reducing costs. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College

PALNI and PALCI continue to remove barriers to Hyku adoption with IMLS grant

Midway through funding period, project organizers have completed UX research and major system upgrade, with the Consortial Institutional Repository Toolkit in production

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) and The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI) are midway through a 2-year, $248,050 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support Hyku for Consortia: Removing Barriers to Adoption. With this award, granted in 2021 as part of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program, the partners are increasing the flexibility, accessibility, and usability of Hyku, the multi-tenant repository platform system.  

Why Institutional Repositories?

Repositories are a critical piece of library infrastructure, enabling access to many types of digital materials created by an institution’s students, faculty, staff, and researchers. Libraries, cultural heritage institutions, and other organizations also use repositories to provide access to digitized special collections.

In the face of continued budgetary pressures, libraries seek cost-saving approaches to their work. Due to costs or other constraints, those unable to deploy Institutional Repository (IR) services are increasingly looking to consortia to serve this role. This project specifically advances Hyku to support the repository needs of library groups by increasing affordability and flexibility in a scalable, multi-tenant environment.

“This grant has provided the foundation for PALNI and PALCI to apply open source software, new business models, and collaboration to remove barriers to widespread adoption of repository software,” says Kirsten Leonard, Executive Director for PALNI. “Thanks to this award and the critical feedback provided by our pilot participants—including those from partnering consortia VIVA and LOUIS—we have made progress in building and sustaining an open, community-led repository service that has the potential to impact thousands of libraries. We leverage the advances in the Samvera open source community and contribute our advances back to the community through our developer, Software Services by Scientist.com.”

“We place a high value on the opportunities for innovation, collaboration, cost savings, and agency that come from community-owned infrastructure and solutions like Hyku,” says Jill Morris, PALCI Executive Director. “It frees us to define scaled solutions in ways that proprietary software and fully outsourced solutions can’t. The Hyku community is active and vibrant, allowing us to partner and take advantage of momentum happening in other projects. It also puts libraries back in the driver’s seat as they make technology choices about how and where to store, discover, integrate, and access their digital assets and materials.”

The first year of the project culminated with PALNI and PALCI making significant progress on their initial goals to:

  • Produce a comprehensive gap assessment for Hyku, focusing on the barriers to adoption.
  • Complete user-focused development sprints tightly scoped around high-priority features of the system.
  • Create a toolkit to share with other library groups considering collaborating on a repository.

Engaging the User Community

The partners completed extensive user experience (UX) research with UX firm Samhaeng. Pilot participants identified barriers and had a central role in defining, reviewing, prioritizing, and approving the features of the Hyku service that are being developed. 

“Engaging with the Hyku Commons community is key to achieving the major goals for Hyku for Consortia,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director. “Together, the ‘PALs’ have built a user community to identify gaps in Hyku, deduplicate work, and encourage sharing of solutions across institutions.”

That community includes pilot participants from two other major consortia, VIVA and LOUIS, bringing the total number of Hyku Commons tenants across all four partnering consortia to 50. The UX research report, combined with user satisfaction surveys, is the basis of the project’s gap assessment report, which informs development decisions by directly addressing the needs articulated by these stakeholders. 

“The support and responsiveness of the grant team to VIVA member pilot institutions has made the Hyku for Consortia project a joy to work on,” says Genya O’Gara, Acting VIVA Director. “VIVA has already gained a deeper understanding of the breadth of needs across the consortium and what future functionality would allow for a broader range of institutional engagement. With the recent release of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) advancing open repository principles, this work couldn’t be more timely—it is more critical than ever that we support the development of open repository solutions that are community-led, scalable, and sustainable for a wide range of academic library types.”

“The Hyku for Consortia project team’s community-building efforts around Hyku have been especially beneficial for LOUIS pilot members as they’ve tested the platform,” says Laurie Blandino, Associate Commissioner and Executive Director for LOUIS. “Monthly meetings to go over product developments and updates, as well as open discussions about repository practices and policy development, have enabled LOUIS’s member institutions to learn and share best practices with a wide range of academic libraries. The development of local collections of faculty and student works helps our members demonstrate their value to higher education in accordance with LOUIS’s strategic plan. It is essential to the development of such repositories that affordable, user-friendly platforms with robust support are available to meet the vastly different needs of our member institutions. The Hyku for Consortia project is a welcome addition to the institutional repository landscape.”

User-Driven Enhancements

In addition to completing initial UX research, project organizers recently concluded a major system upgrade from Hyku 2.1 to Hyku 4.1. Launched in November, the upgrade includes improvements to analytics, featured collections and cross-site search functionality, and an enhanced index and homepage. Other previous developments include improvements to bulk import and export workflows, an area defined as a high priority by users. Developments were completed in partnership with Software Services by Scientist.com (SoftServ), an open-source software development firm and long-time contributor to the Hyku project. 

“This upgrade has brought in many desired enhancements, especially in areas where users noted room for improvement, such as reporting analytics, as well as many ‘quality of life’ improvements for repository administrators,” says Nic Stanton-Roark, PALNI’s Institutional Repository Project Coordinator and Archivist at Anderson University. “We look forward to our continued work addressing gaps identified by our user community. We expect metadata flexibility to be the next area for development post-upgrade, as suggested by the first satisfaction survey and UX report.”

The project’s next phases include continued UX research and data collection to identify and assign priority to other gaps in functionality, especially those that present a barrier to Hyku adoption. Emphasizing the goal to help other consortia and library groups stand up a Hyku instance, the partners are creating a Consortial Institutional Repository Toolkit that will provide guidelines, documentation, and other materials to support the development of similar collaborative repository services.

For more project information, news and updates, visit the Hyku for Consortia website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana, Inc. (PALNI)

PALNI is a non-profit organization supporting collaboration for library and information services to the libraries of its twenty-three supported institutions. Over time, the library deans and directors who sit on the PALNI board have adjusted the organization’s strategic direction as the internet and information services landscape has changed. PALNI has expanded beyond providing a resource management system to sharing expertise in many areas, including strategic planning, reference, information flue, outreach, data management, and configuration, and has identified greater collaboration in acquisitions as a key goal. www.palni.edu

About The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI)

The PALCI organization was originally founded as the ‘Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.,” and was formed in 1996 as a grassroots federation of 35 academic libraries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Today, PALCI is known as Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation, with membership consisting of 74 academic and research libraries, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and New York. PALCI’s mission is to enable cost-effective and sustainable access to information resources and services for academic libraries in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. PALCI Members serve over 800,000 students, faculty, and staff at member institutions, through a variety of programs, including the highly-regarded EZBorrow resource sharing service. PALCI also serves as the home for the Affordable Learning PA program, creating a community of practice for open textbooks and related educational resources. https://palci.org

About LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network

LOUIS is a consortium of public and private college and university libraries in the state of Louisiana. This partnership was formed in 1992 by the library deans and directors at these institutions, in order to create a cost-effective collaboration among the institutions for the procurement of library technology and resources. We are currently forty-seven members strong.

About VIVA

VIVA is the academic library consortium serving 71 nonprofit higher education institutions in Virginia, including 39 state assisted colleges and universities, 31 independent private, nonprofit institutions, and The Library of Virginia. VIVA’s mission is to provide, in an equitable, cooperative, and cost‐effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for Virginia’s academic libraries serving the nonprofit higher education community.

About Scientist.com

Scientist.com’s mission is to empower and connect scientists worldwide. By transforming the way scientific research is performed, our Science as a Service® platform accelerates discoveries that cure disease, address climate change and help secure global food and energy supplies. We combine sophisticated AI technology with white-glove Research Concierge® support to enable researchers to run more innovative experiments faster and cheaper. Scientist.com acquired Notch8, a San Diego-based company offering application and software development services, in 2022. The acquisition of the company—now called Software Services (SoftServ)—enabled Scientist.com to begin offering web services—such as web and mobile application development, code audits, framework upgrades, deployment optimization and monitoring and support—to its existing global network of researchers and service providers.

Q&A with Fr. Harry Hagan: A perspective on open textbook creation

Fr. Harry Hagan, OSB, SSD, is Associate Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. As a faculty member at a PALNI supported institution, Fr. Harry has produced three open textbooks that are free and available to scholars worldwide through the PALNI Pressbooks publishing platform. Here, he shares his experience in teaching and creating open educational resources (OER).

Please share the titles of the open textbooks you have produced.

  1. Elements of Biblical Poetry: An Introduction to Its Craft, Language, and Genres
  2. Elements of Biblical Narrative: A Brief Introduction with an Analysis of the Red Sea Story
  3. Mighty in Battle: A Literary Study of Battle Narrative in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible

Please tell us more about your current role and the courses you teach.

I am Associate Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. I teach the following courses:

  • Biblical Narrative: Pentateuch and Historical Books
  • Biblical Narrative: Prophets and Wisdom
  • Psalms
  • Covenant
  • Story in the Deuteronomistic History
  • Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Languages

I also write texts for hymns and have published over 40 hymns. I have studied poetry and also written it.

What encouraged you to produce open textbooks for your courses?

I had written Elements of Biblical Narrative during COVID-19 to replace an introduction to narrative in English literature that I had been using. Originally written as a journal article, it became too long to publish there, and the opportunity arose to publish it with PALNI. That seemed like a great solution.

During my sabbatical in the spring of 2022, I rewrote a piece that I had given to students for many years and turned it into Elements of Biblical Poetry.

Mighty in Battle is part of my dissertation. PALNI offered me an easy way to make that available to a larger audience.

Why did you choose to publish these particular open textbooks?

Elements of Biblical Narrative was written specifically for my course on Pentateuch and Historical Books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. There are existing introductions, but they use examples from many different stories. This book focuses mainly on the Red Sea Story (Exodus 13:17-14:31) for its examples. This is arguably the most important story in the Hebrew Bible, and so students are focusing on an important text as they explore how narrative works in the Bible.

Elements of Biblical Poetry is a revision of a document that I have used for many years in courses on prophets, psalms, and wisdom literature. It explores the ways in which biblical poetry works rather than the specific context of those books. It covers craft, language, and genres of this poetry. In some ways it is very similar to poetry in other languages, but its use of similar and sequential parallel lines gives it a different feel.

How have the textbooks been received by students?

I have received positive feedback from the students. They are used to working with online and downloadable documents, and so these are just another accessible piece for them.

What are the biggest benefits to using OER versus traditional textbooks?

They are easily accessible and come without cost. You can’t lose them, but you don’t have to haul them around. They are there for future reference, and students can also use these books later with their own students.

What has your experience publishing open textbooks been like?

It was easy to put the books on the Pressbooks platform. Grammarly functions as the editor alerting you to the problems of proofreading. You have access to the document day and night, and you have lots of control. My institution was able to help with the design of the cover.

In what ways did your library support you in the process?

The director of the library, Dr. Daniel Kolb, made me aware of the possibility, and he has been very supportive throughout the process.

Is there anything about the process that has surprised you, or benefited you or your students in unexpected ways?

You can easily put a piece of the book on a screen in a classroom for a discussion.

What is one piece of advice you would give other faculty looking to publish their own open textbook?

Don’t wait.

Would you consider publishing more open textbooks in the future? Why or why not?

I am presently putting a translation online that courses in medieval history have students read. Today, publishers must ask how they are going to get their money out of a publication before they commit to publishing a book. Thanks to PALNI, those questions do not need to control the process. 

To learn more about PALNI open publishing, visit the PALNI Press website.

DePauw University’s Prindle Institute for Ethics announces publication of open access electronic books

DePauw University Libraries are pleased to announce the publication of four open access electronic books from the Prindle Institute for Ethics. 

Available through the PALNI Press, the Prindle Post Education Edition is designed to help high school and undergraduate students, and their teachers, examine some of the most complicated moral questions of today. Each book is focused on a certain topic—COVID-19, Journalism, Climate Change, and Democracy—and includes discussion and activity support for teaching and learning ethics in the classroom.

Victoria Peters, Scholarly Communication and Resource Services Librarian at DePauw, worked to publish the texts using the PALNI Pressbooks platform, an open source book authoring and editing tool offered to PALNI-supported institutions. 

“Making these resources open access through PALNI Press was a no-brainer when the Prindle Institute notified DePauw faculty that they could request a physical copy of these texts for free,” says Peters. “Now these educational resources are available to a much wider audience and can impact students around the world. I was excited to work on my first Pressbooks project and further the DePauw Libraries’ collaboration with Prindle.”

“The Prindle Institute for Ethics is dedicated to making ethics education materials and topics for fruitful dialogue accessible to as wide a community as possible,” says Christiane Wisehart, Associate Director of Content Strategy for the institute. “Our partnership with Victoria Peters allows us to increase access to these materials while also providing a secure, archival digital home for ephemeral print materials. We’re so grateful to Victoria and the PALNI community for providing us this wonderful outlet for our work.”

The Prindle Institute regularly produces print editions containing favorite articles from The Prindle Post, a digital publication of public philosophy dedicated to examining the significant ethical issues raised by current events and present in culture. Topics range from health care and bioethics, to politics, business, the environment, and more. 

To learn more about the Prindle Institute for Ethics, visit them online. To access the free and open Prindle Post Education Edition eBooks, visit the PALNI Press.