Applications for DIY Open Textbook Grants are now open!

UPDATE: Please note the deadline for submissions has been extended to 13 May 2022.

They may be free to access and use, but open textbooks aren’t free to produce. That’s why a grants program is a key feature of the CAUL Open Educational Resources Collective.

There are costs involved in open textbook creation at various stages of the publishing cycle, some of which may be covered by institutions, while others may not. The costs don’t always involve invoices and payments, but may instead be time in someone’s workload, such as authors’ time or library staff time. If you’re writing an open textbook, or working with an author who is, some of the other costs you might encounter that require funding include those associated with:

  • Editing
  • Copyright permissions
  • Stipends for peer reviewers
  • Graphic design

To assist with these costs, academic authors at participating institutions in the Collective can now apply for a DIY Open Textbook Grant. To qualify for a grant, the open textbook is required to fall into one or more of four categories:

1. High impact. Open textbook projects in this category are targeted at first year, high enrolment courses (more than 200 students) in core disciplines.

2. Emerging disciplines. Open textbooks in this category have a specialised, novel, relatively fast growing subject area of focus with limited current textbook availability.

3. Australian and New Zealand content. Open textbook projects in this category are focused on Australian and/or New Zealand content in any discipline.

4. Rebalancing representation. Open textbook projects in this category are focused on subject matter or include content that aims to redress imbalances related to representation in academic literature, with priority given to ‘own voices’ projects (i.e. textbooks that will be written by authors with relevant lived experience).

Inclusion of Indigenous content written by Indigenous authors is encouraged across all categories, including content in or about Indigenous languages. Indigenous content must include experience or information that represents Indigenous peoples from Australia and/or New Zealand.

Grants of $1000, $2000 or $3000 (for one, two or three or more authors respectively) are available, and include additional funds for two $250 peer review stipends to be paid to peer reviewers.

Further details about the grants, including eligibility, requirements, timelines and evaluation criteria can be found in the 2022 Grants Guidelines. Links to the EOI form and submission form, as well as the Guidelines and key dates, are available here.

The grants are a great opportunity to assist authors to meet some of the costs associated with writing their open textbook as part of the Collective. If you are working with participating authors in your institution, please encourage them to apply!

The closing date for submissions is 29 April 2022. UPDATE: Please note the deadline for submissions has been extended to 13 May 2022.

Co-Designing Deakin Library’s Strategic Plan: Project Update

This post was written by Dr Mollie Dollinger, Equity-First, Students as Partners Lecturer at Deakin University.

Deakin University is one of the 11 institutions participating in the Students as Partners project within CAUL’s Enabling the Modern Curriculum Program. The Deakin University project is called ‘Co-Designing Your Future Library’ and aims to take a collaborative approach towards creating the library strategic plan. The project is led by University Librarian Hero Macdonald, Dr Mollie Dollinger and Paul McKenna.

In the project, university library staff are matched with student mentors in a 1:1 dialogue. The sessions are held entirely online (via Zoom) and are approximately 1 hour in duration. To support the dialogue, the project team supplies each pair a scaffolded set of design thinking activities, including mind maps and storyboards, that help guide the conversation and generate novel ideas and solutions.

Participation was entirely voluntary, with 50 university library staff opting in, and 100 students (each staff member had approximately two meetings, each with one student). Students were recruited centrally and spanned various courses, degrees, and cohorts. All students who participated were awarded a $50 gift card to acknowledge their contribution. University library staff also represented the variety of departments and teams within the library, ensuring a wide breadth of views and perspectives.

Sabina Robertson (Manager, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment Library Services) reflected on their participation in the project:

“The co-design project was unexpected opportunity to connect and learn from a student’s experience.  Students come from such diverse backgrounds; their lives are complex and for some demanding. Somehow university study fits in amongst work, family and health issues.”

Similarly, Clare Carlsson (Director, Client Services and Deputy University Librarian), also shared their thoughts:

“I was amazed at how open and engaged the students were with their feedback and think they pretty chuffed to be asked- this process was great for building stronger student relationships”

Students who participated in the project have also been positive about their experience, citing how the process underscored how much the university cared about their opinions and experiences.

Analysis on the data collected from the project is still underway, with a report (and peer reviewed journal article) expected this year.  Watch this space!

Students as Partners Roundtable 2021

Academic libraries were represented in the recent National SAP Roundtable with presentations from the CAUL EMC Students as Partners Project group along with case study presentations from the University of Newcastle Library.

The 2021 National Students as Partners Roundtable was hosted recently by the 21C Student Curriculum Partners at Western Sydney University. Over three days from 23th – 25th November, students and staff from around Australia and the world convened online through Teams and Zoom to share ideas, discuss issues and network with each other. This year, the theme of “the Partnership Paradox” provided a great opportunity to not only celebrate the partnerships but also look at partnership practice through a more critical lens through case studies, problem solving ‘hackathons’ and discussions around research.

I was fortunate to attend Day One, which showcased thirty-seven case studies from around Australia and globally, with nine countries represented. The case studies were presented in six zoom rooms running simultaneously over the course of the day. Meeting the challenge of starting at 7 am to attend the first session (due to being on AWST) was totally worth it, as I found the mix of case studies I attended to be informative and thought provoking. It was great to see the academic library sector reasonably well represented, with a presentation from the CAUL EMC Students as Partners (SaP) Project group, and a further three case studies from the University of Newcastle Library, presented by Imogen Harris-McNeil.

Presentation on CAUL’s EMC SAP Project

Fiona Salisbury, University Librarian, La Trobe University started the presentation by describing the project team as a group of library staff from across ten Australian universities, brought together through an open call-out from the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) to support a nationally led project. She explained the aim of the project as being to explore what students as partners means for academic libraries and how library staff can conceptualise the approach. Fiona then highlighted the potential of the Library, traditionally considered the ‘heart of the university’, to support students towards their success through SAP programs, and suggested that although students as partners is increasingly recognised as a key approach to drive meaningful relationships and engagement with students, the library has been largely overlooked.

Dr Mollie Dollinger, Equity-First, Students as Partners Lecturer at Deakin University, then highlighted some of the preliminary results from the national survey which was completed by 200 library staff and 22 University Librarians during October 2021 as part of the project. Mollie reported that most of the SAP programs mentioned by participants in the survey are in the learning and teaching, and peer mentoring areas, while the lowest was in governance, resource design and collection renewal. The survey also revealed that Library staff in general have a superficial understanding of SAP in libraries, suggesting that library staff, as much as faculty staff, need support in this area. While the survey results are yet to be analysed in more depth, the initial findings indicate that there is a challenge ahead in addressing how relationships between librarians and students can better adopt key principles of student partnership.

The presentation then looked at two examples of SAP projects piloted by participating insitutions. Susan Vickery, Associate University Librarian, Access & Advisory Services at Macquarie University, spoke about their program of employing students to assist with evaluating LibGuides. They employed students specifically for the project, who then joined weekly team meetings, did a small bench marking activity, and were significantly involved in designing the UX experience. Wendy Ratciffe, Coordinator Client Experience, Co-Curricular Services at La Trobe University, then spoke about the Bendigo’s campus SAP project to make the campus library a culturally safe space for indigenous students. Four indigenous students were enlisted to engage in a series of exercises which culminated in a design thinking workshop facilitated by Kristy Newton (UOW). Student ideas and input about visibility, inclusivity and reciprocity, as well as the design and arrangement of furniture, colours and use of indigenous language, will directly shape the development of the campus library spaces.

Case study presentations from the University of Newcastle Library

Imogen Harris McNeill, Coordinator, Student Employment and Partnerships, at the University of Newcastle Library (and also a member of the CAUL EMC SaP group) presented three case studies at the Roundtable event. One focussed on the SAP framework that Uni Newcastle Library has developed, while the other two shared experiences from their SAP programs around governance and library spaces.

Despite Imogen’s description of the governance SAP project as “the boring administrative side of things”, the Uni of Newcastle Library’s program of engaging students in decision-making and governance in the University Library was actually very interesting. The program addressed the ‘included and empowered’ pillar, one of three underpinning the Library of Newcastle Library’s SAP framework, that involves valuing student representation in decision-making and Library governance processes and seeking to work directly with students as co-creators and co-designers of Library services, spaces and activities. Imogen described how, rather than endorsing a single stand-alone student advisory group, the Library actively brought students into Library committees, projects, working groups and communities of practice to work alongside Library staff. These students are integral members of each group with their voices influencing outcomes for the Library and student cohorts as they collaborate with library staff to identify opportunities for improvement, develop options, solve problems, or implement solutions.

One of the challenges highlighted was the fact that, despite engaging in governing and decision making being regarded as one of the most empowering forms of partnership and engagement, it can be difficult to interest students in these roles. Leveraging the library’s current pool of casual assistants and using existing employment mechanisms, as well as promoting the benefits of further professional experience for the casual staff, were some of the methods used. It was interesting to hear the challenges from the student perspective as well, such as the difficulty of wearing two hats (student and staff) and thus in defining their role and purpose in each particlar group or discussion.

Brief reflections

The Roundtable presentations provoked a lot of interesting conversation and critical questioning among the participants and provided a wonderful opportunity to share and learn from one another. I found the case studies really useful in showing what is currently being done, highlighting important resources, and sharing challenges and experiences. While there are some great SAP projects happening in academic libraries, there is clearly potential for more to be done, and scope to build support for Library staff to encourage the development of meaningful SAP programs. Finally, it was great to see a lot of student engagement in the event, not only in the presentations themeslves, but also in the Teams chat, and on the organisational side of things as well.

Creating an open digital dexterity program: 23 Things

One of the most important contributions that libraries can make to their community is to create meaningful learning experiences, and openness is an important factor that can help achieve this. Curtin University Library has been working to create an open, participatory and connected learning space through its online digital dexterity program, 23 Things.

23 Things is a self-directed learning program designed to help students develop the digital capabilities required for successful study, work and life. It consists of online modules, workshops and creative challenges on topics as diverse as video editing, digital security and virtual reality.

Throughout the process of designing, creating and implementing the program, the Library has striven for openness in different ways.

We have been open to trying new approaches in learning design as part of our Students as Partners program, employing students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds to design the site, create the content and assist in running the program. Enabling student voices to be heard and fostering peer-supported learning has bought unique perspectives to the program and helped make the content relatable and accessible. As our student partners share their knowledge and experience with their peers, we have seen engagement, enthusiasm and friendships flourish.

An open learning community also requires removing barriers by offering different modes of engagement to cater to different learning styles and preferences. Activity-based learning has formed the bedrock of the program, moving away from passive information delivery. Taking a sequential approach with a focus on a new topic each week, we provide synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities through self-paced online modules, face-to-face and online workshops, creative challenges, and invitations to connect with others.

Another major objective is to make the content accessible and inclusive by ensuring diverse voices and perspectives are represented in the content. The storytelling element of the program, which we use to illustrate how digital skills can be applied in a workplace context, have also provided a rich opportunity for normalising diversity and inclusion. For example, through the fictional character of Charlie who is a ‘deadly yorga’ (or impressive woman), we are able to incorporate our local Nyungar indigenous language and culture into the learning experience.

23 Things is open to anyone to participate, and we have intentionally kept the content generic and applicable to the different contexts of study, work and life. Although the program is now part of Curtin Extra, the University’s extra-curricular credentials program, it also remains open to the wider community. As a result, we are customising our communications to the different groups who engage with the program.

23 Things is an Open Education Resource that is licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA). Each self-paced module has been created as a single H5P file, and is very easy for others to download, re-use and modify.

Our efforts to create an open, inclusive learning space through 23 Things has been extremely rewarding. Being open to new approaches, welcoming anyone to participate, striving for inclusive and diverse representation, and open-licensing the content have all contributed to enabling our community to participate in and contribute to a meaningful, connected learning experience.

Introducing the Students as Partners project

It’s great to be introducing this project and the wonderful team working together on it.  

University communities are increasingly regarding their students as ‘partners’, able to contribute valuable skills and expertise that can shape and improve the student experience across a range of areas.  Lying at the heart of the University experience, academic libraries in particular are well suited to a ‘Students as Partners’ approach, with their long history of collaboration and engagement (Salisbury and Dollinger, 2020).    

The project will generate knowledge and develop practical resources to support good practice in developing Students as Partners projects in academic libraries.  

Project objectives

The three main objectives of the group are to:

1. Develop an understanding of, and report on, current practice related to students as partners in academic libraries in Australia and New Zealand, and internationally.

2. Develop an evidence based toolkit to support CAUL member institutions to engage with students as partners.

3. Model a Students as Partners approach by collaborating with students on the development of the toolkit.

The project has clear and tangible benefits for academic libraries.  It will create opportunities to share ideas and experiences about Students as Partners and provide access to a valuable toolkit designed to support good practice in their institutions.    

Access the project brief (pdf) here.

Please do our Students as Partners survey – everyone working in an academic library is invited to participate!

Our team

The project team, led by Dr. Mollie Dollinger (Deakin University), includes  Danielle Ambriano (University of Technology, Sydney), Kerry Bedford (Australian Catholic University), Kate Conway (Curtin University), Vanessa Crosby (University of New South Wales),  Daniel Hamilton (University of Technology, Sydney), Imogen Harris-McNeill (University of Newcastle), Trent Hennessey (University of Melbourne), Paul McKenna (Deakin University), Karen Miller (Curtin University),  Wendy Ratcliffe (La Trobe University), and Susan Vickery (Macquarie University).

We’re all excited to be part of this project, and hope you will take a few minutes to watch the video below, in which we share some thoughts about the project and what we hope to achieve.


Fiona Salisbury, Mollie Dollinger & Jessica Vanderlelie (2020) Students as Partners in the Academic Library: Co-Designing for Transformation, New Review of Academic Librarianship, 26:2-4, 304-321, DOI: 10.1080/13614533.2020.1780275

Four reasons to participate in our Students as Partners National Survey!

[Update 5 October 2021: Deadline extended to 18 October]

Are you involved or interested in Students as Partners programs in academic libraries? If so, then please participate in our survey!

The aim of the study is to understand what practices around student partnership have been embedded with Australian university libraries, and how student partnership can continue to be supported to encourage co-design in university libraries.

The research is part of the Enabling a Modern Curriculum with Students as Partners project.

Data collected from the survey will help the project team review and understand Student as Partner practices within university libraries. 

In turn, the review will inform the development of an online toolkit designed to support CAUL member institutions to engage students as partners.

Why you should complete the survey (and pass it on to others to complete):

  1. You’ll be contributing to building knowledge around how we can best support student partnership in academic libraries.
  2. You may alert us to some great examples of Students as Partners projects that can contribute to the Toolkit.
  3. You’ll be supporting your colleagues in the CAUL Enabling a Modern Curriculum project. It may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference! 
  4. It only takes 15 minutes to complete.

FAQs about the survey

You may have some questions about the survey, which I hope are answered below.

 Who can participate in the survey?

The survey is open to anyone with interest, knowledge or experience of Students as Partners programs in academic libraries. 

What if my colleagues also participate and discuss the same Students as Partners program?

It’s fine if more than one person refers to the same program in their responses – the more information we get, the happier we are!

Will my personal information be identified in the results?

No. Individual staff will not be identified in the survey results or any resulting publication and nor will the organisations where they work.

Is the survey part of a larger research project?

Yes. The title of the project is National Review of ‘Students as Partners’ in Australian Academic Libraries (La Trobe University ethics reference number HEC21220).  The researchers are Fiona Salisbury, Mollie Dollinger and Kate Davis.  

How do we access the survey?

The survey can be accessed at this link  

When does it need to be done by?

The survey closes on 18 October 2021.  Although there’s plenty of time, why wait?  You could do it today!

Can I share the survey link and information with others?

Yes, please do. We hope you will share the survey with staff in your library and encourage any colleagues who may be interested to participate.