The University of Massachusetts Amherst


The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of their 2020 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Six UMass Amherst instructors received funding to adopt, adapt, or create open educational resources (OER). OER are teaching materials released with an open license which allows for their free revision and redistribution.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER
  • Provide support to faculty to implement these approaches
  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction

Thanks to generous funding from the UMass Amherst Libraries and Provost’s office, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus, including:

  • Stacy Guifre and Melina Anne Masterson who plan to create an openly-licensed Italian textbook for Italian 110, 120, and 126
  • Matthew Sherwood, an Accounting instructor who is adapting software packages and instructional materials to integrate with original instructional videos, assignments, case studies, and quizzes into one centralized resource
  • Wayne Xu and Martha Fuentes-Bautista from Communication who plan to update and integrate existing mini-lecture podcasts and student blog entries on key class topics into "interactive lecture notes”

View the full list of winners here.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds so that we will be able to create two updated, more diverse Italian OER textbooks that will not only make Italian a more inclusive course offering for UMass Amherst students, but can be shared with other Italian programs in the US and abroad,” says Melina Masterson.

“We are seeing more and more faculty wanting to create customizable teaching tools that are not only free for students, but can also improve how students learn,” says Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Open Education and Research Services Librarian. “By utilizing or creating openly licensed teaching materials, instructors are removing a barrier to student success that high-cost textbooks often create. OER are not appropriate for every class, but as the number of newly-created OER has drastically increased over the past three years in a wide range of topics, it has become easier to find and customize material for college courses.”

Now in its eleventh cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of more than $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize OER or existing Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Instructional Design, Engagement and Support (IDEAS) group, and Provost's Office to support these efforts.

The UMass Amherst Libraries, in collaboration with the College of Natural Science and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, recently received an Interdisciplinary Faculty Research Award for georectifying, analyzing, and distributing historical remotely-sensed images from the William P. MacConnell Aerial Photograph Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst (SCUA).

The collection consists of photographs from 1951 to 1999 that “provide unmatched insight into the historical geography, land use, planning, and climate of Massachusetts.” With georectification, which “assigns geographic coordinates to an image in order for it to be displayed and analyzed spatially using a geographic information system (GIS),” the collection’s data would be accessible and usable by researchers and regional planners.

“The process enhances the research value of the photos because it makes them easier to find, if a geospatial search portal is set up, and use in geospatial software,” explains Dr. Rebecca Seifried, Geospatial Information Librarian at UMass Amherst and project team member. “Applications are limitless, from finding out what a specific property looked like in the past, which many members of the public want to know, to investigating large-scale changes to environment, infrastructure, and land use.”

Funding from the grant will be used to support a graduate research assistant who will work with the team on georectifying the collection. Additionally, the team plans to use the georectified images to develop an AI-enabled tool to assist with auto-georectification of future projects.

Once completed, the georectified photos will be available on Credo, SCUA’s online repository.

JUNE 2, 2020

The University of Massachusetts Libraries stand with the University and Chancellor Subbaswamy in denouncing acts of racial violence, anti-Blackness, and institutional racism. Recent acts that have ravaged the country have a long history and are deeply embedded in our society.

Over the last few days we have witnessed a national outpouring of anger and grief as communities across the Commonwealth and the nation express outrage at the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. One of many recent acts of violence against Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native American people across this country, it comes at a time when tensions are high as the nation deals with the health and economic impacts of the global pandemic that has already highlighted entrenched disparities of treatment, care, and access among our communities. These overt acts of violent racism and bigotry are a highly visible part of a deeply-rooted systemic prejudice that goes back centuries.

Many of us in this country have been the beneficiaries of this system, whether willing participants or not.  The UMass Libraries, as part of a system of public land-grant institutions, exists to provide access to knowledge, and to help in the education of our students and the citizens of the Commonwealth.  Yet libraries are far from neutral, having benefited from a system that privileges a dominant narrative and the perspectives and experiences of a select portion of our society. Libraries, including ours, are working to make collections, spaces, and services more inclusive and reflective of a truly diverse society, but we still have a long way to go to in making substantial change. We must continue to strive to do better.

As Dean of the Library that is home to the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, I have been inspired by his writing, and also saddened by the fact that 150 years after he was born in Great Barrington, MA, a system of institutional racism remains in place across this country. I am not a scholar of Dr. Du Bois, but I would like to think he would be inspired by the energy of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  I acknowledge the fact that I am able to move through the world on a daily basis with little thought to the systems of oppression that inspired Dr. Du Bois to dedicate his life to fighting for change, and I commit to working toward change, by first reflecting on how I can do better.  

I invite you to explore our guide on  Resources on Color and "Race”, created by members of the Libraries’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee.  I am inspired by those who have raised their voices in anger and protest, while recognizing that there is much work to be done to create real, sustained change.  We must all commit to engaging in the difficult work of anti-racism, with our colleagues at UMass, across the Commonwealth, and the nation.

Simon Neame
Dean, University Libraries


Update on Library Services for Fall 2020

Given the recent message from Chancellor Subbaswamy announcing the revised reopening plan for fall 2020, the UMass Libraries will continue to provide our services remotely, supporting the UMass community through our online services and access to resources.  Although our physical facilities will remain closed for the time being, the Libraries are committed to meeting the needs of our students and faculty as teaching, learning, and research resume in earnest. 

Our Interlibrary Loan and Library Express services can facilitate access to materials not available online, and UMass faculty, students and staff will have the option to pick up library materials with our new ‘contactless’ pick-up service, due to be launched shortly.

Information for faculty on digital course reserves is available here.  Please note that the Libraries will not be able to support print reserves for the 2020/21 academic year. The Libraries are working closely with the Center for Teaching and LearningInstructional Design, Engagement and Support and UMass IT to support online course development.

UMass faculty, students and staff who wish to access Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) will be able to do so this fall, by contacting SCUA to identify their specific research needs, and to arrange access by appointment.

For specific questions related to research needs and library services our librarians and staff specialists are available by email, and through our chat service to assist you.  Our database of frequently asked questions is also available for you to reference.  We encourage you to reach out with any questions you have!

While we miss the opportunity to welcome our users back to our facilities, the safety of our staff and the UMass community continues to be our priority.  We will update our website with new information as it becomes available.  In the meantime, the Libraries look forward to assisting you with your research, teaching and learning needs.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Stay safe and well,

Simon Neame
Dean, University Libraries

library gardens and building facade with blue sky and clouds


Thanks to the UMass Amherst Libraries’ partnership with a consortium of academic and research organizations, UMass Amherst students, staff, and faculty now have temporary access to digital versions of approximately 1.5 million volumes held by UMass Amherst.

The consortium, HathiTrust, is providing emergency access to member institutions, including UMass Amherst, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on its 2018 holdings, about half of the Libraries’ print collection overlaps with the HathiTrust digital collection, so the new temporary service now provides access to the digital versions of more than 1.5 million print volumes for the duration of the emergency.

For information on how to access HathiTrust and other materials temporarily available, visit this guide or contact the Libraries.

“Through the UMass Amherst Libraries’ partnership with the HathiTrust, we are able to provide digital access to a portion of our physical collections while our facilities are closed,” says Simon Neame, UMass Amherst Dean of Libraries. “It’s during times like these where we see the true power of libraries working together to provide access to knowledge.”

Many items in HathiTrust are protected by copyright law, and no further reproduction or distribution is permitted by any means without the permission of the copyright holder.

UMass Amherst Libraries users may also take advantage of many other Resources for Remote Learning and Instruction available to support research and teaching needs.

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards. 

A $1,500 scholarship was awarded to first-place recipient, Linda Black ’20, for the white paper, “FOOD/NOW: On Climate Mitigation, Sustainable Farming, and Food Security in Massachusetts.”

Two $750 scholarships went to the second place award recipients, the group of Margaret Dreishpoon ’20, Levente Haber ’20, and Waverly Lau ’20 for the paper, “Reusable To-Go Containers at UMass Amherst,” and James Mazarakis ’20 for the paper, “Bringing Life to a Hospital Site: 19 Years of Proposals for the Abandoned Malden Hospital Site in Malden, MA.”

A $300 scholarship went to the honorable mention recipient, Amanda Anderson ’21, for the paper, “New Shipment Just In! The Earthship.”

Winners accepted their awards and presented their projects virtually in short videos available for viewing on the Libraries’ YouTube channel.

The competition was open to all currently enrolled UMass Amherst undergraduates.

Winning projects will be made openly accessible by the end of April in the Sustainability Student Showcase in ScholarWorks, the digital repository for the research and scholarly output of the UMass Amherst community.

The awards promote an in-depth understanding of sustainability topics, research strategies, and the use of library resources, providing participating students with vital skills they will carry into future academic and vocational endeavors. The awards and event are made possible by the generosity of donors who support the UMass Amherst Libraries’ national award-winning Sustainability Fund.

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to coordinate efforts for the Pioneer Valley’s participation in the fifth annual international City Nature Challenge (CNC). The Challenge consists of a submission period from April 24-27, 2020, during which participants observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist, and a crowdsource-based identification period from April 28-May 3, 2020. Results of the Challenge will be announced on May 4.

According to the CNC website, the Challenge was started in 2016 by citizen science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco “as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a citizen science event around urban biodiversity.” Additionally, the wildlife information gathered during the Challenge “gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world.” Last year, more than 963,000 observations were made.

Recently, Challenge organizers released a statement saying “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some modifications to the City Nature Challenge to help keep our organizers and participants safe. Firstly, this year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, we want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary. We urge all participants to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by your local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health are our utmost priority. Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ page for more information.”

This year marks the first year that the Pioneer Valley is officially participating. Melanie Radik, librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, is spearheading organization efforts with an information guide and virtual workshops for interested participants.

UMass Amherst Libraries, members of the All-Campus Makerspace, Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) and multiple faculty and students from Engineering and the Life Sciences began working together in mid-March to establish UMass Amherst COVID-19 Response Teams including those to coordinate resources to fabricate supplemental personal protective equipment (PPE) to support medical staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle. 

From the Libraries, Sarah Hutton, Head of Student Success and Engagement; Steve Acquah, Digital Media Lab Coordinator and Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry; and Dennis Spencer, 3D Printing Services Supervisor are three of the more than 80 faculty and staff now working across disciplines and centers at UMass Amherst, using Microsoft Teams to share information and designs approved by the medical community to fabricate items such as frames for plastic face shields.

“We know of earlier efforts looking at producing materials by people who want to help,” explains Hutton. “University efforts first centered around making sure we were bringing the best science to bear on designs, and consulting with the NIH and health care professionals, before we started prototyping and producing.”

Even though the Libraries’ physical buildings are closed, staff from the Libraries’ Digital Media Lab have been printing component parts (visors, clips, and hinged clips) for face shields on Makerbot and Ultimaker printers, and are providing prototypes for a ventilator splitting-mechanism that could help alleviate the anticipated shortage of ventilators. 

The Science and Engineering Library team supported a nationwide medical librarian collaborative research initiative to contribute to a critical open-access collection of pertinent research, face shield designs and reviews, and patents. This face shield prototype diagnostic collection, created by Hutton, is actively utilized by the team at UMass Amherst, and has also attracted other institutions regionally and nationally to draw from the collected expertise to help support other localized fabrication efforts.

Peter Reinhart, Founding Director for UMass’s Institute of Applied Sciences, Frank Sup, Associate Professor, and Meghan Huber, Assistant Professor both of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, have been spearheading a number of the UMass Amherst COVID-19 Response Teams across campus and in local communities. Dave Follette, IALS Advanced Digital Design and Fabrication and Device Characterization Core Facilities Director, has been collaborating closely with Spencer to design printable face shield component parts that will best fit the need for the rapid production and distribution of safe equipment to those in need.  

Joined by Campus Makerspace Director Shira Epstein, Environmental Conservation and Public Policy Professor Charlie Schweik, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Assistant Professor Meghan Huber, and many dedicated researchers, engineers, and students across campus, the goal of collaborators is to leverage UMass’s resources to expand the production and distribution of essential PPE into local hospitals and other essential service areas in our communities to help continue flattening the curve.

Irma McClaurin, PhD G’93, MFA G’73 was recently awarded a $15,000 Historical Archives Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. The funds are for the development of the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

The Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive (BFA) was established in 2016, when Dr. McClaurin was recognized as a University of Massachusetts Amherst “Distinguished Alumni.” A former UMass Amherst employee, McClaurin worked in Transfer Admissions and as Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences from 1977-1991.  

The BFA is interdisciplinary and already includes the collections of several important activists and scholars, such as Black feminist anthropologist Carolyn Martin Shaw and the late Lawrence Paros ’55, an Alternative Education advocate and educator. The grant will cover expenses associated with transporting materials and preparing them to be deposited in the Archive.

The Black Feminist Archive will be part of SCUA's efforts to document social change and will join its actively used collections that include the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois, for whom UMass Amherst’s main library building is named, Horace Mann Bond, Daniel Ellsberg, Judi Chamberlin, and Brother David Steindl-Rast.

The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. Historical Archives Program “promotes the preservation of the history of anthropology by assisting senior scholars (or their heirs) with the expense of preparing their personal research collections for archival deposit.”

The UMass Amherst Libraries announce the publication of Radicalize the Hive, an openly licensed textbook authored and assembled by Angela Roell, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and Aisha Russell, Editor and Project Manager. This textbook has a Creative Commons license, making it a free and openly available resource for anyone to use, share, and remix.

Radicalize the Hive, a collection of stories from the field and resources for new and intermediate beekeepers interwoven with the author’s experience as a beekeeper over the last decade, centers stories of community-engaged beekeeping, marginalized voices, people of color, queer, trans, and gender variant beekeepers and bee seekers. “When I began this book, I was curious about who is working with bees in less ‘conventional’ ways and what practices we’re using to engage new beekeepers in ‘right’ relationship with honey bees,” says Roell.

This first iteration of the book is being released as a “reader version.” The authors welcome comments, ideas, and input from the public. A final version will be published on April 4, 2020.  

The announcement of the textbook’s publication coincides with Open Education Week from March 2-6, 2020, an Open Education Global initiative highlighting that “by providing free and open access to education and knowledge, open education helps create a world to support learning.”

Radicalize the Hive, as well as other openly licensed books, is available online or for download via Open Books Library, a catalog of open access books published by the UMass Amherst Libraries. The catalog is hosted on Pressbooks, an open source Wordpress plugin that allows for easy reading on the web as well as PDF and eBook downloads for offline reading.

The textbook was developed with funds from the Open Education Initiative, an annual effort of the Libraries’ Office of Scholarly Communication and the Office of the Provost to increase the number of low- or no-cost openly licensed teaching materials on campus.