Tuesday, November 5th
2:30 – 3:30 pm | Milne 104
by Paul Schacht
In Walden, nineteenth-century American author, philosopher, and activist Henry David Thoreau wrote that he went to the woods because he wished to “live deliberately.” In the same work, he also wrote that “Books must be read as deliberately as they were written.”
Digital Thoreau is a joint initiative of SUNY Geneseo, the Thoreau Society, and the Walden Woods Project aimed at promoting the deliberate reading of Thoreau in ways that illuminate his creative process and facilitate thoughtful conversation about his work.
The projects that comprise the initiative are open in a variety of ways.
Digital Thoreau’s main scholarly project is a “fluid text” edition of Walden. Thoreau revised the manuscript of Walden seven times between 1846, when he began working on it while still living at the pond, and 1854, when the first edition was published. Our fluid text Walden makes it possible for readers to follow the manuscript revisions across the seven versions, comparing any version with any other and with the Princeton University Press edition of the finished work.
The project would not have been possible without the cooperation of Thoreau scholar Ronald E. Clapper, who freely shared with us his 1967 dissertation identifying all the manuscript variants. Nor could it have happened without the Versioning Machine: the open-source platform for displaying text-versions that we’ve adopted to display the variants on-screen.
In turn, we’re openly sharing the XML-TEI code that’s the back end of that Versioning Machine display — code written right here at SUNY Geneseo by Milne Library faculty and staff. Other digital humanists have already downloaded the code to see how the variants display on another versioning platform, Juxta.
Walden: A Fluid Text Edition also incorporates the scholarly notes that SUNY Distinguished Professor and former SUNY Geneseo English department member Walter Harding wrote for his Walden: An Annotated Edition (1995). This addition was made possible because the notes were freely shared with us by the Harding family.
Another of our projects at Digital Thoreau, funded by a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant, is a text of Walden designed to invite conversation both in the text’s margins and in discussion forums. Readers can participate in this conversation individually or in groups. The Readers’ Thoreau brings together two open-source plugins from the open-source blogging platform WordPress — Commons In A Box and CommentPress — to create a “social reading” experience that has the fundamental features of a social network. Readers can comment on any paragraph of Walden, add labels to comments, search other readers’ comments by label, follow the comment activity of friends in the network, join forums, and continue conversations that begin inside the text in other ways. They can filter comments so that they only see the ones that interest them. Two or more groups can decide to read Walden with each other. They can “like” the comments they find most valuable and recommend comments to friends.
Open access is the means by which Digital Thoreau’s projects have come into being; it’s also the end they serve.
Written by Rachel Hall
Starting a literary journal at Geneseo had proved difficult for a number of reasons, foremost the cost of producing an attractive and substantive print journal. Another obstacle was maintaining student interest throughout the semester. Students loved the idea of putting together a journal, but with the demands of courses competing for their time and energy, interest invariably flagged, and the many tasks of creating a literary journal were abandoned.
Timing, as they say, is everything. The English department has been, for the last three years, engaged in revising our major to reflect the changes in the discipline. We were rethinking both our notions about what an English major should know and what skills they would need entering a changing workforce. Meanwhile, publishing was undergoing change too. Several of the prestigious literary journals I’d long admired were moving online, while others were upping their online presence with websites and blogs. Some like the Kenyon Review, established by the critic John Crowe Ransom in 1939, for instance, run online editions in addition to their gorgeous print journal. As these journals proliferated, more writers sought online homes for their poems and stories and essays. And for many writers, the benefits of online publication outweighed any perceived stigma.
If I wanted to prepare Geneseo students for careers in publishing, it seemed essential to provide some hands-on experience with the technology they would need to know. Around this time I visited the Creative Writing Program at SUNY Purchase, and noted with envy their student-led journal, Italics Mine. Perfect bound, visually appealing, and full of compelling student writing and art, Italics Mine, is created by students enrolled in a semester-long editing class, an elective within the Creative Writing major. Here was a model that would work at Geneseo and particularly so with our new curriculum in English. I proposed a class, an editing and production workshop, with the intention of starting an online literary journal called Gandy Dancer.
But how was I to do this? Me, who still hand writes her first drafts, who continues to call this blog post an article? Enter, Joe Easterly, or as the founding editors of Gandy Dancer fondly called him, Library Joe. In numerous meetings in and outside of class, Joe listened to what we wanted, asked thoughtful questions about our ideas and suggested various approaches. He taught us how to use OJS and WordPress. He led us through CSS coding and worked to help the students design our journal and our website. This semester, we continue to revise and polish the look and we’ve been thrilled with the work Leah Root and Corey Ha have done to tailor OJS to better suit Gandy Dancer. Without this expertise and support, Gandy Dancer would not exist.
If I was initially dismissive of online publications, the students never shared that bias. They have enthusiastically embraced the medium and are eager to explore the possibilities it provides. One such possibility was our ability to reach readers and writers outside of Geneseo. We decided to make Gandy Dancer a SUNY-wide literary journal, accepting work from the 60+ SUNY campuses, something that OJS makes easy. We’ve received warm support and encouragement from faculty and students at other SUNY campuses and we hope to continue building these connections. Our journal’s name reflects this desire: Gandy dancer is old railroad slang for the workers who tended the tracks, lifting and leveling the railroad ties after a train passed. We like to think we, like the gandy dancers, are helping to take people to new places.
Rachel Hall is a professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing Program at SUNY Geneseo. Believe it or not, her two most recent publications—a short story and an essay–are in online journals. Read them at south85journal.com and soon at lunchticket.org.
As part of the Genesee Valley Historical Reprint Series, Milne Library is pleased to share the release of 8 reprinted cookbooks originally published between 1817 and 1921. This collection may not be the best resource for everyday cooking in the modern kitchen, but if you want to know how to cook chicken soup (starting with choosing the unlucky bird!) and other little-known culinary tricks, these are the books for you.
Old cookbooks preserve otherwise lost culinary and household knowledge. Many of these reprinted books, which are largely put together by the members of institutions and societies local to the Geneseo area, include recipes and advice for removing stains, concocting cleaning agents, and creating curatives that many people may be glad to rediscover. Warner’s Safe Cook Book has a robust section of miscellanea which ranges from laundry (“To Clean Clothing,” “To Keep Furs,” and “Old Fruit Stains”), to first aid (“For Severe Sprains”), to smoothing irons and putting together a bouquet of herbs. The Genesee County Cook Book offers “Substituting for Wheat in Any Recipe,” and The Genesee Valley Cook Book contains a recipe for “Good Paste,” as well as for various lotions and creams.
Also illuminating to read are game recipes that used to be quite common but are now almost never seen, calling for creatures such as turtles, blackbirds, and squirrels. One might find it interesting to know that the old nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” speaks truth in the line “Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,” for that is how many birds are needed in a Blackbird Pie!
More timeless, and contained in each of the eight cookbooks, are sections on jams, pickling, and preserving, which may be useful to cooks interested in canning or gardners with excess crops.
The cookbooks in the Genesee Valley Historical Collection, and in the Genesee Valley Historical Reprint Series, remind us of what life must have been like for women and their families during this time period, and how important and fortunate it was that they shared their wisdom in book form, when this wisdom otherwise was contained within families and communities and mainly passed on orally. My own reliance on the internet for simple cooking basics, or to learn something new, reminds me how lucky we are to have (often) free and easy access to this vast world of cultural and academic knowledge.
The books in the Genesee Valley Historical Reprint Series are available free online, through our website at go.geneseo.edu/omp. The titles are also available for purchase through Amazon.com (with proceeds supporting Milne Library’s Special Collections), and the originals are available for the community to browse and check out at Milne Library.
~ written by Allison Brown
This event is sponsored by the Young Children’s Council and students from the School of Education. Any age is welcome, though these stories are geared toward the under-10 age group (appropriate for preschoolers).
Friday, October 25th
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
The event will take place in the Teacher Education Resource Center, located on the lower-level of Milne Library.
Story-Time (performed by members of the Young Children’s Council) will have storytelling, refreshments, songs, crafts and trick-or-treating.
Costumes are optional and encouraged!
Milne Library publishes free open access resources; Geneseo authored works, Open SUNY Textbooks, rare books, and more on Open Access Week
Two SUNY Geneseo faculty members released open-access publications this week. Supported by the Milne Library publishing team, one is a textbook on learning the Chinese language and the other an essay on Bob Dylan. Both are accessible online free of charge to anyone. The release coincides with both International Open Access Week (a global event in support of free, immediate, online access to scholarship) and the release of two publications developed through the Open SUNY Textbook Program, a collaboration Milne administers with SUNY libraries and faculty members to develop free online textbooks.
The Geneseo authors are Jasmine Tang, a lecturer in the Department of Languages and Literatures, who published the textbook Let’s Speak Chinese and Eugene Stelzig, distinguished teaching professor of English at the college, who wrote the essay Bob Dylan’s Career as a Blakean Visionary & Romantic.
Stelzig’s essay has taken a circuitous pathway to worldwide availability. He completed the work in 1976 after being invited to submit it for a volume of scholarly essays on Dylan, but the publisher backed out of the venture, deciding it would have limited appeal. Since then, faculty and students have frequently requested copies of Stelzig’s article for inclusion in dissertations or courses involving Dylan. Stelzig’s original manuscript was type written, before the advent of word processing.
“I’m delighted to participate as an open-access author and to have the essay available to anyone who wants to see it, either in print or online,” said Stelzig. “The piece has led a sort of underground life for decades in the wake of Robert Shelton listing it in the bibliography of his biography of Dylan, so I’m delighted that Milne Library is making it available and easily accessible to anyone.”
Tang has been using her textbook in her Chinese language course, which has 51 students enrolled this semester. The online version contains an audio component that allows students to listen to word pronunciations.
“The reason for open-access is such that anyone who has interest can learn the language, building confidence in making communication in Chinese at their own pace with the guidance from this book,” said Tang. “The goal is to reach a global audience and a harmonious environment in learning Chinese as a new language.”
Cyril Oberlander, library director is the principal investigator for the Open SUNY Textbook Program, developed through a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant and library funding. The program also draws upon the expertise of SUNY librarians and SUNY Press.
“It’s very gratifying to see all of these publications reach the virtual bookshelves and open to readers worldwide, the authors have my sincerest appreciation, and so do Milne’s extraordinary publishing team” said Oberlander. These works are available from Milne’s Minerva Catalog along with 16 Genesee Valley Historical Reprints, rare titles in our Special Collections.
Open SUNY Textbooks
The first two of 15 forthcoming Open SUNY Textbooks are now available free online worldwide. Open SUNY Textbooks will be a critical component of Open SUNY, which will expand access to online courses offered within the 64-campus system, improving completion rates among students while also offering fully-online degree opportunities. Open SUNY, which will be launched in early 2014, has the potential to be the world’s largest, most comprehensive distance-learning environment.
“Open SUNY Textbooks will dramatically cut costs for our students while enhancing the quality and efficiency of the textbooks used in some of SUNY’s most popular electives and majors, and allowing our faculty to reach a world-wide audience with their expert work,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “This program an exciting first-look into what Open SUNY will accomplish.”
“Digital textbooks are the future of the academic publishing world,” said Carey Hatch, SUNY associate provost for academic technologies and information services. “The average college student nationally spends $1,200 on textbooks per year, and Open SUNY Textbooks positions us to cut those costs for our students while putting them on a more direct path toward completing their degree, which is still the most effective way to save students money.”
The Open SUNY Textbook program will publish 15 books this fall on subjects such as Anthropology, Business, Computer Science, Education, English, Geological Sciences, Mathematics, Music Education, and Physics. Open SUNY Textbooks will be made available for download at www.opensuny.org.
The two books released this week are:
- Literature, the Humanities and Humanity written by SUNY FredoniaDistinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg, a professor at the college for more than 40 years. The book focuses on the reading and teaching of literature and will be used most frequently by English education majors.
“My profession has done a great job of taking literature away from people, of making it seem inaccessible. This is my answer to that,” said Dr. Steinberg. “As my career is winding down, I would like to give literature back, make people realize that they can read literature and enjoy it. I really believe in this project and the book.”
- Native Peoples of North America written by SUNY Potsdam Professor of Anthropology Dr. Susan Stebbins. The textbook is an anthropological introduction to the Native peoples of what are now the United States and Canada, focusing on presenting both historical and contemporary information from anthropological categories such as language, kinship, economic and political organization, religion and spirituality and art.
Funded by the SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant program, Open SUNY Textbooks is designed to encourage a community of practice among libraries by inviting SUNY faculty to publish open textbooks. Participants in the program also include peer reviewers, student assessors, instructional designers, and consultation from the publisher, SUNY Press.
SUNY will look to expand the program year after year, adding more titles from more SUNY campuses, and beginning to develop interactive textbooks. A catalog of forthcoming Open SUNY Textbook titles is available online.
“Studies have shown that students, at times, are not purchasing required textbooks, not registering for classes, and even dropping courses because of textbook costs,” said Cyril Oberlander, director of the SUNY Geneseo Milne Library and principal investigator of Open SUNY Textbooks. “SUNY Libraries are working with faculty to reduce costs to students, promote authorship, invest in readership, and support teaching and learning.”
The high cost of textbooks is making some professors think outside the box. Rather than require students to purchase copies of books that are freely available online in their entirety — think Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, or de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America — some professors are embracing eBooks.
While instructors may want the ease of being able to refer to a page number during discussions, or may want students to read the additional material that is in the version of the book he or she has, there are ways to work around these problems. Some instructors, for instance, have begun allowing students to use the online version of the book, or a cheaper version than what is listed in the syllabus, and then asking the class to number the paragraphs in each chapter so that, in class discussions, they can refer to chapter and paragraph instead of page numbers. (Obviously, some works are already bifurcated by acts, scenes, stanzas, etc.) Additional materials, such as introductory essays, can be scanned and placed in MyCourses (subject to copyright laws) for those students who did not purchase the same version of the book the professor has.
Some instructors actually find eBooks useful in other ways. Programs such as Diigo allow you to add an electronic post-it note to a web-based document, allowing students to comment on specific lines of text and respond to questions posted by the professor. Keep an eye out for new apps like this that add value to using eBooks in the classroom. Saving money for students will be just a bonus!
Some free eBook providers:
It is a commonly heard story on campus that students are feeling the pressure when it comes to textbook prices. Anecdotally, librarians and faculty have heard about many students’ dropping or avoiding classes because they cannot afford the required texts — not because of content, interest or availability. Next week, Milne Library will be holding a series of events related to the open access movement and how we can redefine the impact of free and open resources on higher education.
How do textbook prices impact college students?
We do know that nationally, students bear a high cost to attend college, but how much do textbook costs factor into these budgets? In 2012, the Florida Student Textbook Survey was conducted by the Florida Virtual Campus (a network of public colleges in Florida). The researchers interviewed over 20,000 students from all 11 of Florida’s state universities.
Among the many survey goals, officials wanted to find out how much Florida students spent on textbooks during the Spring 2012 semester; the frequency with which students buy new textbooks; how students are affected by the cost of textbooks; what formats students prefer; and additionally, what students’ perceptions of the availability of textbooks in their institutions’ libraries actually is.
In brief, the researchers found several trends:
Textbook costs continue to take a toll on students financially and academically
Students use various means to reduce costs of textbooks, including purchasing books from a source other than the campus bookstore, renting textbooks, purchasing used books, selling their used books, and using copies on reserve at the campus library
Some institutions’ libraries provide textbooks for checkout, extending a lifeline to students who cannot afford to purchase a textbook
How Geneseo students feel about textbooks
Much of this was seen in our own informal polling of our students. During the Spring 2012 semester, we conducted a brief survey to gage the attitudes of SUNY Geneseo students toward textbook prices. Though the response rate was small, we did receive some candid feedback:
“Sometimes, it makes me not want to take a class. I’m somewhat funding myself, so high costs of textbooks are a deciding factor for me.” — Sophomore
“Forced to get old outdated versions where the page numbers dont match up because buying the right/new version is too expensive.” — Junior
“I have to really think ahead and plan ahead to make sure I will have the money to buy my textbooks. There have been classes I haven’t taken because the cost of the textbooks has been too high for me to afford.” — Junior
“It is very expensive to buy textbooks. Generally my professors are honest about whether or not we will use the text during class, but sometimes I go through a whole semester without even opening it. Textbook buy-back stinks because I barely get a fraction of what I initially paid. Basically, it is an incredibly expensive addition to the already incredibly expensive cost of furthering my education. “ — Junior
“I had a work study job this year to cover various expenses, but with the costs of textbooks, I rarely had cash to spend. My parents are helping pay for my college education and they too are financially strained by how expensive the textbooks can be in addition to everything else we need to pay for.” — Freshman
Milne Library can’t do it alone
In an effort to mitigate some of the burden of purchasing textbooks, Milne Library has developed a Textbooks on Reserve collection. Currently, the collection consists of 787 unique titles — that’s roughly 72% of the unique titles assigned by faculty for the Fall 2013 semester. Although some of the titles were already in our collection, we rely heavily upon donations from faculty and students in order to stay current. Why? Because we simply cannot afford to buy the latest edition of each textbook every year.
Our Textbook on Reserve collection also has limited reach. In order to ensure that as many students as possible can access the collection, students can only check out one book at a time for 4 hours. Since we often only have one or two copies of a book, not every student can access a copy when they need it most: often the night before an assignment is due.
Some students also try to borrow their textbooks through Information Delivery Services (IDS). However, this also has limitations. Many libraries do not allow us to borrow textbooks through interlibrary loan. We are often forced to borrow older or alternate editions. As with all materials we borrow from other libraries, due dates are often limited to 4-6 weeks — meaning students have to return the items before the end of the semester.
Where do we go from here?
We want to know your thoughts. Please respond to our blog post with your comments – how do textbook prices impact your educational experience at Geneseo? What are some strategies or alternatives used to avoid buying a textbook?
LIST OF EVENTS:
Monday, October 21, 2013
Open Educational Resources (OER)
Director of Library Services at Monroe Community College, Mark McBride will discuss what OERs are, how to locate them, creative commons licensing often associated with OERs and how we as educators can begin to use them in our instruction and research.
Location: Milne 105
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Open Education Survey for SUNY Geneseo Campus
Whether you be student, faculty, or staff, tell us about your use of, and issues with textbooks and learn a little bit about what OA can do to help!
Time: All Day
Location: Milne Lobby
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Teaching Students to Fish
Luncheon and workshop with Brian Morgan (SoE) and Kim Hoffman (Library). Throw away the textbook in favor of empowering students’ independent and collaborative learning using the principles of Open Education. RSVP to [email protected] for food planning.
Location: Milne 121
Friday, October 25, 2013
Textbooks and Open Textbooks Luncheon: Student, Faculty, Library perspectives
Luncheon panel discussion. Join us to discuss the impact of rising costs, and access to, affordable textbooks for students. How can Higher Education deal with these issues, with student, faculty, library perspectives presented. RSVP to [email protected] for food planning.
Location: Milne 213