UCSD OER on East Asian History

Schneewind, S. “An Outline History of East Asia to 1200” (2020). Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9d699767 

  • Interview: Allegra swift
  • Interview transcript: Anna Gabrielle F. Isorena
  • Interview recording editing and textbook final formatting: Haneen Mohamed

A demon from The Chʼu SilkManuscript:TranslationandCommentary(Canberra: Department of Far Eastern History,Australian National University, 1973).

Professor Sarah Schneewind approached the library in the spring of 2019 seeking options for self-publishing a textbook for the UC San Diego undergraduate course HILD 10 East Asia: The Great Tradition: Early History and Cultures of China, Korea, and Japan. She felt that the textbook she had been using was not meeting her needs and students were upset about the high cost of the book. As the Scholarly Communication Librarian focused on supporting the dissemination and sustainability of the scholarship and research produced at UC San Diego, I was excited to be able to work with Sarah to find the best publishing solution to both meet her needs and produce a textbook that could be used by others, without cost or barriers to access. I met with Sarah and consulted with the Digital Scholarship Librarian, Erin Glass, and the subject specialist librarian, Xi Chen. We looked at options such as Lever Press/Manifold, GitBooks, Scalar, Pressbooks, and, eScholarship, the UC’s open access repository and publishing platform. 

UC scholar publications:

Ultimately, eScholarship won out. The platform presents a low-barrier to entry as far as technicality and cost. The only restriction to uploading a publication to eScholarship is that authors need to be employed by the UC. Journals published on the platform are an exception – there must be some connection to a UC campus, while authors submitting manuscripts can be from outside the UC. While it is simple to post a pdf, some textbooks produced on eScholarship, such as the climate science OA textbook – Bending the Curve, have a high production value and an entire team to produce the work. Sarah was creating this resource herself without technical support and her only criteria being complete creative control, no book publishing charge (BPC), and provided at no cost to her students.

The work was not without cost to produce however, and this is an important consideration if libraries are going to support the production of open educational resources (OER). Sarah successfully petitioned for course release to work on the book but it only covered a portion needed. She was able to pay a graduate student to work with me on locating images that were Creative Commons licensed or in the public domain. I also helped the student with template requests for getting permission from rights holders. I was able to employ an undergraduate to format the final pdf. I spent a lot of time giving guidance on discoverability and rights best practices. Sarah good-naturedly called my methods “bullying,” but I would describe myself as persistent 😉 . At any rate we’d agree that the effort was successful. As of this posting, the metrics are pretty impressive for only being online a couple of months. As Sarah said in the interview that I recorded (interview recording and transcript).

“Of course, my colleagues, just like me, have students who have no money, so they’re very happy to have an open access textbook that they can use. On my eScholarship statistics, I had 2,111 views or something on this textbook in the last month since you posted it. Again, I’m never going to attain that on anything that I write just based on my own actual research. I would say, overall, the response numerically has been very good.”