Author : Amanda C. Larson
According to the latest Babson Survey, Freeing the Textbook: Educational Resources in US Higher Education, “faculty awareness of OER has increased every year, with 46 percent of faculty now aware of open educational resources, up from 34 percent three years ago” (Seaman and Seaman 2018).
While open educational resources (OER) gain traction with faculty who are looking to lower costs for their students and re-engage with their pedagogy, academic libraries are creating a variety of open or affordable textbook programs to help increase the use of OER or low-cost materials as replacements for high-cost traditional materials. Some libraries are creating specific positions to support these initiatives that aim to help faculty who want to adopt, adapt, or author OER.
As more of these roles emerge, it raises questions about what the field perceives as the role of an Open Education or OER librarian, and the support that libraries provide OER initiatives.
To explore these concerns, I collected position descriptions for librarians whose role it is to support OER initiatives into a corpus. I applied deductive thematic analysis to code it while investigating four main questions: 1) What inspires academic libraries to hire OER-related support? 2) What skills do they anticipate applicants to possess? 3) Where do these positions fit within the organization chart of the library? 4) Is there a standard scope of work that emerges from the corpus?
In addition to these four questions, this research also explored the expectations for librarians in these roles to change faculty’s perception of OER through outreach and if they are expected to run burgeoning grant initiatives to launch adoption, adaptation, or authoring efforts at their institution.