Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Roles of Libraries and Information Professionals In Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiatives

By Gema Bueno-de-la-Fuente, R. John Robertson, Stuart Boon. August 2012

Executive Summary

This report contains the findings of a study carried out by the Centre for Academic Practice & Learning Enhancement (CAPLE) and Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards (CETIS), at the University of Strathclyde. The study focuses on the involvement of the Library as an organizational unit, and of individual librarians and other information science specialists, in open educational resources (OER) initiatives. This research study contributes to the current Open Educational Resources (OER) Programme [], an initiative by JISC and the HEA whose objective is to promote the creation, dissemination, access and use of OER. This programme represents a firm commitment by UK Higher Education (HE) institutions to the OER movement.


The analysis of those survey questions regarding the involvement and roles of the library and librarians at OER initiatives shows a considerable heterogeneity of situations. Their involvement of librarians is significant: three out of four projects teams count on at least one librarian, and most of them are based on the institutional library. In half of the projects accounted for, the library is leading or a partner of the initiative. The main areas of library’s involvement are: description and classification, management, preservation, dissemination, and promotion of OER. In order to support these activities, librarians provided expertise in information science areas, especially: metadata standards, vocabularies, indexing and classification, information retrieval, information literacy, and repository technology and management. It was also found, however, that librarians needed to develop expertise in different areas, including SEO and IPR and licensing options, but mainly about e-learning and OER knowledge, technologies and standards.


The final conclusions of this study indicate that even if the library and/or librarians are well valued by projects where they are already engaged with, the participation of the library is still not widespread, and a significant lack of awareness exists both from OER initiatives with regards to library activities and from the libraries about the resources released by OER initiatives. However, most of the objectives of content-focused OER initiatives are strongly related to library and information science activities and skills and we consider that their involvement would be of great benefit to those projects not yet engaged with them.

We found a clear need to promote the role that libraries and librarians can play in OER initiatives, highlighting the expertise and competencies which libraries and librarians can offer. This active promotion is needed to build awareness among stakeholders about libraries and librarians potential contribution to the OER movement, but also, among libraries and librarians about their key role as OER advocates within and out-with their institutions.

We suggest that a further analysis of the practices of OER initiatives regarding their strategies for storing and dissemination of content, the creation and management of OER collections, and the OER lifecycle is required to effectively promote the role of libraries and information professionals. This analysis, together with an accurate identification of objectives and needs of OER initiatives, would allow for better development of best practice guidelines and recommendations, where librarians have an important role to play.

We conclude that libraries, libraries associations, and LIS education institutions should take on the development of the skills that librarians need to better support OER initiatives, designing and offering training programs and improving syllabus.

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