VCU librarians participated in an inaugural statewide rapid publishing exercise to develop a free and openly licensed nursing textbook. 

Organized by VIVA, Virginia’s Academic Library Consortium, the effort tested a new publishing model for Virginia for the creation of high-quality Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are free to access and have licensing that allows for unrestricted use, sharing and editing. These resources ensure that all Virginia students have access to key texts from the first day of class without having to worry if they can afford the resources needed for their success. 

Academic publishing is usually a slow process that involves multiple author reviews, elastic deadlines and a lengthy production process. The VIVA project’s goal was to explore a faster publishing cycle that would put a high-quality resource in the hands of faculty and students more quickly than usual. The new book about nursing in community settings will soon be published, after a brief multi-month creation process. 

This effort emerged from VIVA’s Open and Affordable Course Content Committee, which decided to work on filling gaps in existing OER rather than rely only on faculty submitted projects. Research and community feedback showed that there was a gap in available high-quality resources for nursing. According to the State Board of Nursing, some 60 schools in the Commonwealth grant associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. Nursing texts are usually expensive, presenting a barrier for many students. VIVA decided to focus their inaugural sprint on creating a nursing textbook. While the new text is intended to benefit Virginia students, VIVA hopes it will become a standard text for nursing around the country.  

A work group was established by VIVA to focus on producing an OER  text. Initially, the group included Open Educational Resources Librarian from VCU Libraries Jessica Kirschner. As the text’s focus was determined to address an aspect of nursing, Kirschner requested the assistance of Research and Education Librarian and Nursing Liaison librarian Roy Brown to join the committee. Both Kirschner and Brown served on the committee that evaluated applicants and helped to choose the team of nursing faculty that would participate in the project.

The project team started work in spring 2022. They selected a topic and a structure and organization for the book. The work concluded with an intensive, five-day retreat in the summer to draft and edit the final project. The text was created  through a rapid publishing collaboration between Book Sprints and VIVA Open Grants. A facilitator supported the textbook writing process and ensured that the team stayed on track for a rapid publication date. Book Sprints would also take point on the publication of the work. The book is expected to be available in summer 2023 and will be available via the Pressbooks platform.

The final project, an OER nursing resource titled Community Health Nursing: A Call to Action addresses various aspects of community health and the role nurses can play to improve the health and wellness of people in the communities they serve. This text attempts to do this with a strong focus on equity, diversity and inclusion. Some of the topics addressed are the social determinants of health and their effect on vulnerable populations, trauma-informed care, ethics, community health assessment, health policy, emergency preparedness and health equity.

Brown served as the librarian for the project. In that role, he identified OER and other nursing educational resources that could be used to produce the book. He also assisted with citation management and helped address copyright issues. Brown served as an editor as the nursing faculty authors completed each chapter.    

“Being part of this interdisciplinary team was fulfilling,” said Brown. “I learned a great deal about creating an OER. Now, I think that I can be a better advocate and resource for faculty in the VCU School of Nursing and on the health sciences campus who may want to explore either creating or utilizing an OER resource. I’m excited to see how the textbook is used after it is published.”

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To learn more about how VCU Libraries supports OER and other opportunities to get involved, visit

Categories Librarians at Work, Nursing, OER Stories