GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 178-18
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


MUSSER, Linda R., Fletcher L. Byrom Earth & Mineral Sciences Library, Pennsylvania State Univ, 105 Deike Building, University Park, PA 16802

Academic institutions are increasingly aware of the impact of the cost of textbooks and other educational resources on student retention and affordability of a college education. Many institutions have attempted to address this issue in part by purchasing e-books (textbooks) with unlimited access for students, however, many publishers do not support or make such licensing affordable. Another tactic is to create or join open educational initiatives, which focus on developing freely-available textbooks and other educational materials. These initiatives (e.g., MERLOT, MIT’s OpenCourseware, Penn State’s Open.ED@PSU, UMinnesota’s Open Textbook Library to name just a few) rely largely on recently created content, made available by authors and institutions. A scan of open educational resource collections reveals a dearth of offerings in the earth sciences, however. It may be possible to address this scarcity by examining older works that still have value as teaching material. The primary reason educators tend to ignore these materials is the assumption that these resources are within copyright and thus not freely accessible. The general guideline is that works published in the United States after 1923 remain within copyright for 95 years. Works published prior to 1923 are nearly 100 years old or more and therefore tend to be dismissed as useful educational resources.

Studies by Wilkin (2017) and others examining the copyright status of works believed to be in the public domain (i.e., less than 95 years old) have revealed that over 50 % of works published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963 are now in the public domain. These results offer hope that large numbers of works of a more recent age could be made available for educational use by simply checking the copyright status of the work. The HathiTrust is a digital library of over 16 million volumes, and a collaborative initiative of many libraries. One activity of the collaborative is the coordinated review of copyright status of works in the collection. Since its origins in 2008, over 600,000 works have undergone copyright review, with over 320,000 works being determined to be in the public domain. This paper will describe the work of the HathiTrust Copyright Review project and the potential impact of similar efforts on the availability of open educational resources for geoscience education.