Category Archives: Events

Can Podcasts Save the Academy?

Photo by Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash.

The following is a guest post by English and Communication Librarian Kristina De Voe.

Amid the amid the volume of news and information in today’s 24-hour news cycle, how can scholars, researchers, and academic leaders share their knowledge and expertise outside the classroom, laboratory, or institution? More importantly, how can they make that message relevant for a wider public audience?

On Tuesday, February 27, the Libraries hosted a panel of local experts who discussed podcasting as a viable way for scholars, researchers, and academic leaders to amplify and share their work with a wider audience.

The panel included Tom McAllister and Mike Ingram, both Associate Professors of Instruction in the English Department at Temple University and Hosts of Book Fight! podcast; Matt Wray, Associate Professor of Sociology at Temple University; and, Thea Chaloner, Associate Producer, Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Each panelist brought unique perspectives regarding starting, producing, promoting, and participating in podcasts.

With extensive experience in public radio, Thea Chaloner initiated the conversation by highlighting the popularity of podcasts: over 66 million people are listening to podcasts monthly. With over 250,000 podcasts out there, how does one start a (good) podcast, rising above the noise? Chaloner discussed two kinds of podcasts: the two-way (e.g. a relaxed interview or conversation between hosts and guests) and storytelling (e.g. RadioLab, This American Life), pointing out that the two-way is often logistically easier to create as the storytelling podcast usually incorporates background music, sound effects, and additional editing which can be time consuming.

Chaloner indicated that regardless of type, a good podcast needs thematic and narrative structure. Clear connections between episodes help as well as engaging questions that permit guests to paint a picture with words, inviting listeners to lean in to the story as they are washing dishes, commuting to work, or doing something else. The podcast can be niche in scope, too — this can, in fact, help to determine a loyal audience. Chaloner mentioned three free tools to help podcast creators: GarageBand and/or audacity for editing as well as Freesound for accompanying sound effects.

Mike Ingram and Tom McAllister then discussed their motives and considerations for starting their own podcast, Book Fight!. As both are creative writers, they desired to create the kind of program that they would want to listen to — something relaxed with writers bantering about books. While there was a learning curve for them early on, and a need to upgrade their equipment for better sound quality, Mike and Tom eventually found their groove, incorporating various themes (e.g. “Winter of Wayback”) and segments into each 50-70 minute episode.

Both Mike and Tom recognized the value of audience feedback along with building and interacting with their audience via outside channels like Twitter. They have also experimented with different funding models, including small crowdfunding campaigns and, more recently, using Patreon which lets listeners become members and give regular monthly contributions. Contributors then receive a bonus episode each month.

The final panelist, Matt Wray, offered strategies for academics who are podcast guests. Likening the experience to giving interviews to journalists and radio show hosts, Wray noted, however, that the best feature of podcasts is the conversational back and forth between host and guest, highlighting the seeming intimacy with listeners as they’re literally in their audience’s heads.

Wray stressed the importance of doing homework prior to being a guest on a podcast. He noted that, when contacted, potential guests should ask the producer and/or host what role they’re looking for in a guest (e.g. someone to explain, to persuade, to observe, etc.). Based on this information, the guest can let the producer and/or host know what they are comfortable sharing. Further, the guest should also ask for a list of topics and/or questions ahead of time to prepare, in addition to listening to earlier episodes of the podcast so as to get a feel for the program. Prior to the recording of the podcast, the guest should review relevant research — including their own — to avoid embarrassment and ensure that they can summarize key findings succinctly. Wray emphasized the importance of explaining concepts and ideas as if chatting with a neighbor or the dentist. He recommended that academics stick to 1-3 talking points, avoid jargon, and keep all responses short and to the point.

Thanks to everyone who came out to this informative program!

Temple University Celebrates Open Education Week 2017

The week of March 27th is Open Education Week, a global event coordinated by the Open Education Consortium to raise awareness around free and open sharing in education. This movement advocates for free and open access for learners and teachers to a variety of resources, including platforms, course and learning materials, and textbooks. At Temple University Libraries we believe there is value in supporting the advance towards a culture of openness in higher education. For us, Open Education Week is an opportunity to create awareness about the use of open learning resources. When faculty adopt open textbooks, create their own set of alternate learning material, or open up their own learning resources to others, students have a more affordable education and a better learning experience. To mark Open Education Week, Temple University Libraries will be offering the following activities:

Introducing Humanities Commons
Join Nicky Agate from the Modern Language Association to learn more about Humanities Commons. Humanities Commons is a nonprofit network where humanities scholars can share their work in a social, open-access repository, create a professional profile, discuss common interests, and develop new publications. The network is open to anyone working in or adjacent to the humanities. Humanities Commons was designed by scholarly societies in the humanities to serve the needs of humanists as they engage in teaching and research that benefit the larger community. Unlike other social and academic communities, Humanities Commons is open-access, open-source, and nonprofit. It is focused on providing a space to discuss, share, and store cutting-edge research and innovative pedagogy—not on generating profits from users’ intellectual and personal data.
When: Tuesday, 3/28, 3:30 pm
Where: Paley Library, Digital Scholarship Center

Learn About Open Textbooks
Get a hands-on feel for textbooks from OpenStax and talk to librarians about how other faculty are adopting them in their courses.
When: Wednesday, 3/29, 1:00-3:00 pm
Where: Paley Library, First Floor (elevator area)

Research Assignment Revamp
Looking for inspiration for new content for your summer or fall course? Come to our drop-in sessions to meet with librarians and get ideas for new research assignments, quizzes, course materials, slide decks, and more. Librarians will suggest relevant openly available materials that you can remix and reuse and your students can access for free.
When: Tuesday, 3/28 1:00-3:00 pm; Wednesday, 3/29 2:00-4:00 pm; Thursday, 3/30 11:00-1:00 pm
Where: Paley Library, First Floor, Think Tank

Open Education Week is also a great time to learn more about Temple University Libraries’ Textbook Affordability Project which provides $500 awards to faculty to support the adoption of open and alternate textbooks. More information is available at: The call for proposals ends April 21st.

We hope you will join us for our Open Education Week events. If you have any questions or would like more information about using open educational resources, please contact Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian (, or Annie Johnson, Library Publishing and Scholarly Communications Specialist (

Fair Use Week Recap

Librarian Greg McKinney talks to a student about fair use during Fair Use Week. Photo courtesy of Steven Bell.

Last week was Fair Use Week, a five-day celebration of the fair use doctrine. Libraries across the United States and Canada held events to raise awareness about the important role fair use plays in the lives in students and scholars. Here at Temple, we organized several events.

We kicked the week off with a fair use quiz. Students who passed by the first floor of Paley Library last Monday were asked to test their knowledge of fair use by looking at four well-known court cases and deciding whether or not the use in question was fair. All students who took the quiz were entered to win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. In the end, 47 students took the quiz. Overall, our students did an excellent job distinguishing between fair and infringing use.

On Tuesday, we held an event for our library staff. We watched the ACRL webinar, “Using Fair Use to Preserve and Share Disappearing Government Information: A Guide for Rogue Librarians.” This webinar was particularly timely for us, as a number of our librarians are involved with the Data Refuge Project which was started at the University of Pennsylvania. Despite the webinar’s title, the librarians who are working to preserve government information are not “going rogue,” as this action clearly falls within the bounds of fair use.

On Wednesday, Resident Librarian Anastasia Chui led a workshop on copyright and fair use for undergraduates. This Jeopardy-style workshop asked participants a series of questions about different fair use situations they might encounter.

Finally, we interviewed Nikki Miller, Rights and Contracts Coordinator at Temple University Press, about “Fair Use from a Scholarly Publisher’s Perspective,” for this blog.

It was a great week and we look forward to participating again next year.

Are you interested in learning more about fair use? Check out the following resources:

Fair Use Week Evaluator Tool

Thinking Through Fair Use (University of Minnesota)

The Fair Use App

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright for Educators

Talking to Students About Textbook Affordability

alt textbook table

Image courtesy of Kaitlyn Mashack.

August 29th marked the beginning of the fall semester at Temple. As students started classes again, we thought it would be the perfect time to talk to them about affordable textbooks. So, we set up a table in the hall of Paley Library, and, armed with some flyers and our brightly-colored display of OpenStax textbooks, got to work. We thought we’d be doing most of the talking, but it turned out our students had a lot to say on this topic. Here are a few of their stories:

One student was very upset when she realized that her psychology textbook was going to cost her $200. She came to the Library to see if we had a copy, and was disappointed when she found out we didn’t have it (the Library has some textbooks in the collection, but doesn’t actively collect them). She told us she could rent a copy of the textbook for around $50, but before she does that she wants to keep trying to find a free copy. What’s the problem with this scenario? Well, while this student looks for a free or low-cost copy, she’s not actually doing the reading in the class. Instead, she’s falling further and further behind.

We also spoke with a biochemistry major who has never bought a textbook. He said he refuses to pay for textbooks because they’re too expensive and he just can’t afford them. He generally relies on Interlibrary Loan to get his textbooks. When it comes to lab manuals, he just photocopies them. He admitted that although this method has worked for him, it’s extremely time consuming. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of trying to track down free copies of his books every semester, he could spend that time studying?

Another student was in the Library looking for a copy of her $250 calculus textbook. Once again, the Library didn’t have it, and she wasn’t sure what to do. She did not have the money to purchase such an expensive book. We pointed her to the Open Textbook Library and found a couple of different options. She said she was going to ask her instructor if she could use one of the open textbooks instead.

To end on a positive note, we were excited to hear from a number of students who are taking a general chemistry class this semester from Professor Michael J. Zdilla. Zdilla assigns his students the Introductory Chemistry textbook from OpenStax. This textbook is available online, and is completely free for students to read, download, and print out. All the students we spoke with were thrilled that they didn’t have to pay for a similar commercial textbook.

Want to learn more about how the Library is supporting the use of affordable textbooks on Temple’s campus? Check out our Alternate Textbook Project.

Interview with Sarah Faye Cohen of the Open Textbook Network


This week at Temple Libraries, we are hosting Sarah Faye Cohen, the Managing Director of the Open Textbook Network. Based at the University of Minnesota, the Open Textbook Network was founded in 2014 to help promote the use of open textbooks. One way the organizations does this is through their Open Textbook Library, a searchable database of open textbooks from across the disciplines. As of today, the Library contains over 200 textbooks. To be included in the Library, textbooks must be complete works, have an open license, be available as a portable file, and be currently in use at a college, university, scholarly society, or other professional organization. In advance of her talk, Sarah was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the Open Textbook Network and open textbooks more generally.

How did you get interested in open textbooks?

When I was Associate University Librarian at Cal Poly, we were dealing with incredibly long lines at course reserves. As we were trying to address that challenge and learn more about students’ need for access to textbooks, we were also starting an open education program. When I learned about open textbooks, I saw a real opportunity for the library to support our students and engage our faculty.

What’s one thing every faculty member should know about using an open textbook?

That an open textbook offers them the opportunity to meet their course objectives and engage all the students in their classroom (as opposed to the ones that could afford the book) through the 5Rs: retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. Every student can access and keep the book, and if you have ideas for how a book can be improved, you can make the change! Creative Commons licenses really are incredible!

How should faculty members evaluate the open textbooks they find on the web?

We hope that they will start by looking at the Open Textbook Library. We encourage faculty to use the reviews in the catalog from faculty at other OTN schools to help them evaluate each book.

Why should a faculty member consider creating his or her own open textbook?

I’m not sure that they should. I hope that a faculty member will consider using an open textbook and then perhaps adapt that book – one of the most powerful, valuable, and important qualities of open – to better fit their course, by incorporating their own research or updating the content.  If there is not a book yet available in their discipline, creating an open book ensures that students have access to their content because it is free, and that fellow faculty can use the book as a basis for their courses.

While open textbooks are free to read, they still cost money to produce. What model do you think best supports the long-term financial stability of open textbook projects? (i.e. foundation money, charging for printed copies, providing career incentives for faculty, etc.)

You’re right, textbooks are expensive to produce and there are a number of different models out there to support the creation of books. I think that the more higher education institutions pool their resources (including financial resources) and expertise to support open, the better.

Finally, what do you think about the recent announcement that Amazon is developing a new platform for open educational resources (OER)?

It’s great that big players like Amazon (and Microsoft and Edmodo) are working to support OER. This is a sign that OER is becoming mainstream. We support any effort that advances open education and improves education.

Understanding Open Educational Resources


“Open Education” by is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

This week we’re celebrating Open Education Week at Temple University Libraries. The purpose of Open Education Week is to raise awareness about resources, tools, and practices that help increase access to education.

One way faculty can help make education more accessible is by using open educational resources (OER). What are OER? According to UNESCO, OER are “are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them.” In a recent study, only 15 percent of faculty respondents said they had used OER in their classes. 39 percent of respondents said that they had never even heard of OER!

This lack of faculty awareness is a real problem, because as students know all too well, class materials such as print textbooks can be very expensive. Some students might go further into debt to buy their textbooks, while others just won’t buy them at all. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a growing number of high-quality open textbooks available in many different disciplines. One example is the American Yawp, a collaboratively-edited American history textbook created by leading academics from around the United States. You can find more open textbooks by searching the Open Textbook Library, OpenStax, and Open SUNY Textbooks.

If you can’t find the right open textbook for your class, consider creating an alternative textbook instead. Alternative textbooks are “textbooks” assembled from both library and open access resources. Unlike traditional textbooks, however, they are completely free for students. In 2011, Temple University Libraries started its Alternate Textbook Project. Each year, faculty can submit proposals for an alternative textbook. Faculty whose proposals are accepted will receive support from the Libraries and an award of $1,000. So far, 46 faculty members from across the University have participated in the project, saving Temple students over $300,000.

Interested in learning more about open and alternative textbooks? Come to our event, “Ditch the Textbook: Exploring Options for Textbook Affordability,” on Wednesday, March 9th @ 12:00 pm in the Paley Library Lecture Hall. Panelists include Temple University student Eitan Laurence, Associate Professor of Art Gerard Brown, Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management Wesley Roehl, and Assistant Professor of Media Studies and Production Kristine Weatherston. The panel will be moderated by Annie Johnson, Library Publishing and Scholarly Communications Specialist.

Can’t make it to the event? Follow the conversation on Twitter: #openeducationwk.