Milne Library Publishes Free Open Access Resources

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.OpenSUNYTextbooks

Geneseo Authors 

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

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.”

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