Supporting open practice at the Sir Alex Ferguson Library, Glasgow Caledonian University

For the month of May 2020, Glasgow Caledonian University’s (GCU) Sir Alex Ferguson Library are curating the Open Scotland blog. The topics GCU are presenting provide an insight into the work they do in supporting open practice, open education, and open educational resources.

In this first post, Senior Library Administrator Seth Thompson of the library’s Collections and Discovery team provides a brief and recent history of how GCU came to support open education, with an overview of some of the areas in which the library provides this support.

The Sir Alex Ferguson Library is situated in the heart of GCU’s Glasgow campus. GCU is committed to the social mission to promote the common good. A major aim of this is to widen access to higher education for individuals regardless of their backgrounds, and to leverage the institution’s intellectual and social capital for the benefit of GCU and wider communities served both in Scotland and internationally.

In line with supporting GCU and wider communities, and as part of our commitment to the common good, the library aims to provide welcoming, friendly, helpful, accessible and open physical and digital environments for our students, staff and members of the public to use. As well as the services we offer to GCU students and staff, we have an ‘open door’ policy, meaning anyone can use our physical library space as a study area. We also offer a free community membership, meaning members of the public can gain borrowing rights to library resources. Additionally, our webpages highlight and promote openly accessible databases, journal sites, textbooks, and resources that may be of interest to our students, staff, community members and wider publics. Our open educational practices also include support for GCU’s open access policy and open access repository.

In 2016 the library implemented edShare@GCU. edShare is GCU’s learning and teaching resource repository. As part of our library strategy, we encourage the GCU community to submit educational resources to edShare as Open Educational Resources (OERs) for use, repurposing, and development worldwide. edShare is designed around the key themes of storing, sharing and preserving educational resources. The repository accepts permanent resources created by GCU staff and also provides a point of contact for resource creation, copyright, intellectual property rights, and licensing enquiries, advice and training. Our second blog post of the month will be an in-depth piece about the edShare development project, how the repository is used by staff, students and the wider public, the challenges associated with its use, and what is next for edShare@GCU.

To support the submission of educational resources as OER, and in conjunction with the development of the edShare@GCU repository, the library also led on the creation of GCU’s OER Policy. Our policy provides support and clear guidance to GCU staff wishing to create OER. The policy is based on the University of Leeds’s guidance on the use and publication of OER. The University of Leeds policy is licensed under a Creative Commons license, which facilitated our reuse and modification of the original work. Our policy, the original Leeds policy, and an additional policy from the University of Greenwich, have then gone on to be reused and adapted by the University of Edinburgh in the development of their own OER policy. Some might say this is a fine example of open practice and OER in action!

A driving force behind the development of GCU’s OER policy was our colleague Marion Kelt. Marion is sadly no longer with us and is greatly missed by all at GCU. Marion was a strong advocate for open education and well known within open education communities in Scotland and beyond. I know she would have been very pleased and enthusiastic in her support of our guest curation of the Open Scotland blog. If you would like to learn more about the trials and tribulations of creating an OER policy, Marion has written pieces on this for both the Open Educational Practices in Scotland project (OEPS) and WONKHE. Marion’s work has been instrumental in developing our library’s approaches to open education and the services we provide.

Image of Marion Kelt at OER18 in Bristol

Marion at OER18 in Bristol, by @sthom_23

Marion was also a key figure in the development of the subject of what will be our third blog post of the month, the GCU UK Copyright Advisor. The GCU UK Copyright Advisor is an online tool developed to assist with frequently asked copyright queries. It provides basic UK copyright guidance on seven types of resources: audio files, book chapters, computer code, images, journal articles, maps and video files. The Copyright Advisor is openly available for anyone to use, and the code is openly licensed so any person or organisation can adapt and modify the resource to suit their needs. We are always interested to hear from anyone who might like to use the Copyright Advisor for their own project, so if this is you please feel free to contact us at edshare@gcu.ac.uk. Our third blog will provide greater insight into the steps involved in the Copyright Advisor’s creation, the challenges we encountered during development, it’s many versions and iterations, the reception it has received, and what is next for the GCU UK Copyright Advisor.

Our fourth and final blog will look at wider academic library support of OER in Scotland. I looked into this topic in 2018 as the focus of my dissertation for an MSc Information and Library Studies from Robert Gordon University. I also presented a poster about the case study findings of my dissertation at OER19 under the theme ‘Back to basics – Asking difficult questions about Open Education’. In this post we will look at the institutions who participated in my case studies and discuss some of their motivations for adopting support for OER, whose interests they felt were served by their approaches, and who they felt they were actually open for. I will also present some participant reflections on their approaches to open practices and the services they provide that support the open agenda, and how they feel they might be able to develop and enhance their service offerings moving forward.

I hope this introductory blog has given you a flavour of what we have planned for the month ahead. If you would like to contact the Sir Alex Ferguson Library regarding any of our planned blog topics, or anything open education related, please feel free to contact at edShare@gcu.ac.uk. You can also keep up to date with the more general ‘goings on’ from the library on Twitter @SAFLibraryGCU, via Instagram, or on Facebook.

Seth Thompson

@sthom_23

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