Tocker Foundation Funds Development of Textbook Alternatives Among Austin Partners

students in a media lab looking at computer screens

The University of Texas Libraries received a generous gift from the Austin-area Tocker Foundation that will support the development of digital teaching and learning resources through a partnership with Austin Community College and the Austin Public Library.

The Foundation has provided $355,000 for a collaborative project between the UT Libraries, the Austin Public Library (APL) and Austin Community College (ACC) designed to promote the adoption, development and distribution of open educational resources (OERs). OERs are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open textbooks are viewed as a more affordable, flexibly updatable alternative to the predominating print textbook standard.

Funds from the gift will subsidize the hiring of a dedicated assistant librarian to develop and execute a plan for broad adoption of open educational resources at the university, as well as for the award of open education grants, education and training on open educational resources and joint promotion of open education with partners Austin Public Library and Austin Community College.

“This is an amazing opportunity to bring together three powerhouse systems: Austin Public Library, the University of Texas Libraries, and Austin Community College Library Services,”  says Library Director Roosevelt Weeks of Austin Public Library. “Together we can magnify the impact of OERs and continue to be the place that our community looks to for resources and inspiration.”

The Tocker Foundation was created in 1964 to implement the philanthropic interests of Phillip and Olive Tocker, and focuses grant distributions in partnership with community libraries to meet the particular needs of the community.

"On behalf of the Tocker Foundation Board of Directors, the Foundation is pleased to award the University of Texas Libraries a five year grant in support of Open Education Resources,” says Tocker Foundation Board Member Edward Smith. “The proposed program aligns with the Foundation's belief that information should be free and accessible by all.  This program will help increase awareness and utilization of OERs across the region and the state, providing access to high-quality educational resources to all."