We all have watched the world entirely change around us over the past several months: the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work, job loss, economic pain, economic protests, and the painful, necessary energy of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I certainly have spent hours of reflection, hours of action, and terrible hours of inaction and frustration across these months. I can only imagine the same is true for most of our readers.
Even before these society-wide changes, my personal life had gone through some serious upheavals. I was reassigned in November 2019 to a new position at my institution, taking me away from work I’d invested myself in far too heavily over the previous years. On the same day as this reassignment, I broke my ankle and needed surgery. This caused me to miss travel to international conferences I’d been looking forward to for months, and meant that I had to adjust to my new job and new team from the isolation of home (oh, if only I’d known what was coming…).
Against this backdrop of personal and cultural upheaval, work on this book has mostly been a solace, though at times a burden too—and I’m incredibly grateful to my co-editor, Kim Davies Hoffman, for being the rock in this project when I fell apart. I hope that I too have been able to step in when she got overwhelmed. We’ve been very lucky in our partnership to find this sanity-check equilibrium.
My sense of editing-as-refuge from external chaos received a large jolt, however, when one of our book authors, Joshua Beatty from SUNY Plattsburgh, wrote in May to inform us that his colleague and fellow author Tim Hartnett had unexpectedly passed away. Beatty asked, on behalf of the three surviving authors, to include a dedication to his colleague as part of their chapter. (Read that full, touching tribute to Hartnett here.) He also suggested that their team may not be the only ones in our project experiencing loss, given the pandemic, and more recently, civil unrest.
While we are relieved to say that all of our other authors are still with us, that doesn’t mean that everyone is unscathed. Some of our editorial team members are grappling with partial or complete furloughs this summer, just like many others who’ve helped shepherd this book into existence. It didn’t take long in discussing Beatty’s request with Kim to realize that ALL our authors likely had fresh introspections to share about their work, given the “new reality” that 2020 has brought.
This book will help no one if it remains an artifact of academic discourse from 2019. The higher education landscape will be permanently altered by the events of 2020, in ways that remain to be seen. We of course feel that open pedagogy writ large, and open pedagogy collaborations between libraries and teaching faculty more specifically, will be an effective avenue for navigating this new educational landscape. But we now recognize the need to state that explicitly, and repeatedly, across our book.
That’s why Kim and I extended the offer of what we’re terming a “2020 Preface” to each of our chapter authors. Not everyone elected to add this component, and in these cases we feel the work in the chapter speaks for itself about its transferability to current situations. We appreciate the time that all our authors took, both in the original chapter compositions and in the additions of these 2020 Prefaces, to frame their work in the way that will make it most helpful to the broader community.
Ultimately, the ability to offer this extension of our project to our authors, AND the ability to include this personal preface, are due solely to the open nature of the publishing path we pursued. I am immensely grateful to my colleagues across the editorial team who took this plunge into the unknown with me, and all that we’ve discovered along the way.
I remain excited about all the models this book puts forth, and know that they’re the tip of the iceberg for what is possible. Whatever lies ahead across higher education in coming years, open pedagogy will be a positive path forward through it.