Why Libraries Should Be Leading the OER Revolution
Too often, libraries are mistaken for quiet buildings filled with books and librarians who “hush” you. If this is your take on libraries, you are majorly mistaken. Today’s libraries are thriving community gathering places that house both books and open access to digital resources. Today’s librarians are highly skilled when it comes to using and reviewing digital resources.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that libraries are at the forefront of the OER revolution. The OER revolution refers to the movement across academic institutions to move to using open education resources (OER). Open education resources are free online resources that are available to teachers and students.
While OER moves away from traditional textbooks, according to CNN, “the goal of the library remains the same: To be a free place where people can access and share information.” Librarians want to help students achieve success, but one of the things holding students back today is the high cost of textbooks. If libraries can help teachers find quality free digital resources, it will benefit their students greatly.
Books are Still Books – Even If They are Digital
Traditionally, libraries have been the home of books. Librarians go to graduate school to learn how to curate materials. Today, this includes digital materials as well as classifying books according to the Dewey Decimal System. In the same ways, librarians sort and review books, they also sort and review digital resources.
Therefore, they use the same skills to identify and put together collections of high quality open educational resources. For example, a professor can ask a librarian for help finding teaching materials for a subject and the librarians will be able to “pull and find” open educational resources to suit the teacher’s classroom needs in just the same way as the librarian would build a booklist.
Librarians Have a Unique Reach
Additionally, librarians have a unique reach across campus. They regularly deal with administrators, teachers, and students. Additionally, they are not tied to one content area. They are regularly consulted by administrators and teachers about curriculum. Furthermore, it is the library where campus-wide digital licenses for materials are found.
Librarians are Already Bringing OER to Campuses
Today, there are already college campuses that are employing librarians with the title of “Open Education Librarian.” These librarians work with professors to find open education resources, as well as teach them how to use them. For instance, some librarians are holding workshops designed to show instructors the possibilities available with OER. Plus, librarians have already come together to create the Open Textbook Library.
Ultimately, librarians have a desire to make knowledge free and accessible to all. As this is the point of the OER revolution, we should expect the libraries to lead us.