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Monthly Archives: January 2018



ACRL DLS Chair: Kristin Miller Woodward
Vice-Chair: Natalie Haber
Secretary: Andrea Hebert
Archivist: Mike Courtney
Webmasters: Tim Ream and Katie Stewart (dlswebcontact@gmail.com)

Top 5 Articles about OER

by Erin Cassity and Rebecca Renirie

Happy New Year! As open educational resources (OERs) continue to gain traction in distance and online education, we chose to take a look at the top five recent articles covering these resources from a library perspective. This is an emerging topic, so we expect to see much more research exploring OERs in distance librarianship in 2018.

As a reminder, to view the entire bibliography the Research and Publications Committee has assembled so far (2014 to present), please visit our Zotero library.


Elliott, C., & Fabbro, E. (2015). The Open Library at AU (Athabasca University): Supporting open access and open educational resources. Open Praxis, 7(2), 133-140.

Librarians at Athabasca University (AU), an institution in Canada that focuses on online and distance education, describe how they developed a stand-alone open-content website called The Open Library. The article begins with an introduction on openness in higher education, including the use of open access materials, OERs, and the advent of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). MOOC users in particular, who generally do not have a login to the institution hosting the course, would greatly benefit from a library website that is both easy to navigate and has resources accessible to them. The librarians would benefit from this arrangement as well, not only because of the cost savings of using open and free materials, but also in the opportunities to teach information literacy to users – to stress to both faculty and students the need to analyze and evaluate the resources they find.

To that end, librarians created a website distinct from the main library homepage featuring content that was exclusively open or free, and could be used by any user whether affiliated with AU or not. As the main library site was based on a modular display and tagging system, this Open Library site was able to exist as a sub-site of the main page that uses only that content tagged as “open” (the main website also contains the library’s licensed content). In addition, the website features not only open and free resources but tutorials instructing users in finding and using these materials. At the time this article was published the site was still being created, so it may look very different today; however, providing not only access to OERs but creating an entire website based around them shows the library’s dedication to helping its distance students succeed and reducing the cost of research materials.


  • The use of open and free resources helps not only students of an institution, but also anyone out there who would like to learn.
  • Use faculty suggestions for adding open and free content to a library’s suite of resources, to be sure it is aligned with course goals.
  • Beyond simply providing a list of resources for students to use, adequate description of those resources and other metadata is essential both for discoverability of the content and its evaluation by users.
  • Information literacy instruction matters with OERs, to help users find the resources they need and to understand what to look for in a quality source.

Miller, R., & Homol, L. (2016). Building an online curriculum based on OERs: The library’s role. Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning, 10(3-4), 349-359. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1533290X.2016.1223957

This article discusses a project from University of Maryland University College (UMUC), in which librarians took part in a team process to embed OERs and library materials into the undergraduate curriculum. (more…)