Libraries’ Will Cross is a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker”

Will Cross Director, Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center

Will Cross Director, Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center

Library Journal has named the NC State University Libraries’ Will Cross, Director of the Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center, a 2020 “Mover & Shaker.” Cross is recognized in the award’s Educators category for his passionate advocacy for open education initiatives and his work to build a model for adoption of open educational resources (OER).

Cross becomes the twelfth staff member from the Libraries to receive the award—the most honorees of any academic library. Annually since 2002, Library Journal has chosen a class of innovative librarians and library staff members from an international pool of more than 300 nominees. This year’s “Movers & Shakers” class will be acknowledged at next year’s American Library Association Conference together with the 2021 class.

“I am thrilled to have Will recognized as a Mover & Shaker,” says Greg Raschke, Senior Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. “Will is a natural connector, collaborator, and leader—bringing colleagues together to help democratize access, expand access to scholarship, and foster innovative pedagogy. His leadership transcends our organization with impact across the higher education landscape.  his recognition is well-deserved. I could not be more happy for Will and for the Libraries.”

Cross has bolstered student success and faculty effectiveness through his leadership in creating the Libraries’ Alt-Textbook Project. This project has resulted in a collective savings for NC State students of over $400,000 to date, and it has served as a model for a network of similar projects enabling faculty training, support, and adoption of open educational resources (OER) across the University of North Carolina system (17 institutions) that have saved students an average of more than $1,000,000 each year.

While OER were initially envisioned as a tool for reducing textbook costs, Cross has elevated his OER work at the Libraries, and in the national higher-ed community, by focusing on “open pedagogy,” which describes a much wider range of positive outcomes that can come from OER adoption. 

Authoring an article that says OER are good is one thing; rolling up one’s sleeves and changing the whole higher-ed landscape to support and facilitate OER creation and adoption is another. This is what Cross did as a co-PI on the Open Textbook Toolkit—an IMLS-funded collaborative project. The project brought libraries and university presses together to form a scholarly communication ecosystem that provides a range of components needed to support faculty considering adopting OER. By leveraging both library and press expertise, the Toolkit represents a unified model for fruitful collaboration in a world that lacks such models.

Cross has expanded this advocacy from NC State’s campus, where he has helped students and faculty members afford and reimagine textbooks and other educational resources, throughout the state through Open Education North Carolina—an IMLS-funded partnership with NC LIVE that has saved North Carolinians over $3.6 million. Cross has also been a leader throughout the national higher-ed community in building partnerships with other institutions through initiatives like the Open Education Library and in encouraging the sharing of innovations in this rapidly developing field.

In addition to his support and advocacy for open pedagogy, Cross provides invaluable guidance and innovative tools to researchers in the areas of author rights, fair use, licensing, meeting research funder mandates, and managing scholarly identity. He teaches numerous seminars and workshops for a variety of audiences and consults extensively with faculty, students, and librarians on copyright and intellectual property issues. In 2018-19 alone, he offered 55 invited lectures and workshops across North America, highlighted by presentations at the Kraemer Copyright Conference, the Charleston Conference, the Library Publishing Forum in Vancouver, and the ACRL conference. Cross’ unique perspective—one that combines legal approaches with academic futures--comes from his wide-ranging background in academic and law libraries, constitutional litigation, and his experience at the North Carolina Court of Appeals.