Spiriting into the Open: UCLA Library Bridges Resource Gaps Through the Creation of First Japanese-Language Open Educational Resource

The UCLA Library and the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures have released an edited volume, The Collection of Creative Writing by Learners of Japanese リレー小説集 [Collection of Relay Essays], a compilation of eight creative works by lecturer Asako Hayashi Takakura’s third and fourth-year Japanese language studies students. The authors were motivated to publish their works for the benefit of future students of the Japanese language, an area where available resources are often limited to content more suitable for K-12.

“We were very excited to create something cool when Professor Hayashi told us she would publish our work for future students,” said student-author Teresa Zhou.

Speaking about the writing process, student-author Lisa Steward said, “Even though this might have been more creative effort, and effort in general, it felt much less mundane writing a narrative than doing a research project.”

The authors have licensed their works under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International license in the hopes their contributions inspire others to write in various genres to improve language proficiency.

Hayashi originally approached Japanese Studies Librarian Tomoko Bialock to help develop a print resource that would have only been available to visitors of the Richard C. Rudolph East Asian Library.

“Despite the establishment of a 1,000-volume Japanese reading collection that covers various levels and genres for learners of Japanese, a resource gap exists between literature and language acquisition,” said Bialock. “I knew that any volume we might create would need to address questions about copyright so I reached out to our Scholarly Communication Librarian, Jennifer Chan. After speaking with Jennifer, we quickly realized that we could do so much more with this work.”

Working through the Library’s Affordable Course Materials Initiative and using the University of California’s eScholarship as the host for the volume, the instructor, students, and librarians involved in this process hope The Collection of Creative Writing by Learners of Japanese gains a second life as a valuable open educational resource. The aim, Hayashi said, is to “help at least 100 people by making this volume open access.”

This approach to publishing and openly licensing these student works allows such resources to be globally available for the very first time. Others may adapt these methods to further support disciplines lacking appropriate quality content.

“This wonderful collection of creative writing not only shows how beneficial the work of the Library’s Scholarly Communications area can be in fostering new, low-cost or free course materials for everyone’s use,” said Alison Scott, Associate University Librarian for Collection Management and Scholarly Communications. “It also shows that empowering student-authors to engage in discovery and creation in collaboration with librarians, faculty, and other academic partners will advance public good.”

Copies of The Collection of Creative Writing by Learners of Japanese リレー小説集 [Collection of Relay Essays] may be downloaded here.

In commemoration of the UCLA Centennial year, the UCLA Library is offering two special OpenUCLA Affordable Course Materials Initiative Awards for the creation and publication of original, openly licensed educational resources. For more information, visit the library website here or contact acmi@library.ucla.edu. The application deadline for the OpenUCLA ACMI Awards is March 20, 2020.