Librarians are often engaged in the activities around sourcing materials for inclusion in teaching and learning materials, as well as in supporting the activities around archiving and storing of data. As such, SCORE identified them as a target group to engage in OER.
SCORE sent out a survey between 18 October and 6 December 2011 aimed to get a national perspective on institutional engagement in Open Educational Resources through their librarians. It also sought to identify library staff engagement with OER, their understanding of licensing and OEP, and their experience in using and finding OER.
Respondents from some twenty three institutions took part in the survey, enabling some general conclusions to be drawn from the data.
Around a third of librarians are confident in using and promoting Creative Commons licences, but the majority are not. This indicates a need for additional support in this area.
Librarians are occasionally asked to locate OER but this is by no means a frequent occurrence, indicating that OER are not being used widely by those who create teaching and learning materials at present.
The majority of HEI libraries do not include open textbooks amongst their resources. This indicates that either traditional textbooks continue to be considered of higher intellectual value, or that there is not a sufficient volume of high quality open textbooks available to make sourcing them viable.
Most institutions had an open research repository. This is most likely due to this being one way in which institutions can evidence ‘impact’ for the Research Excellence Framework, and for their similar role in the previous Research Assessment Exercise. This demonstrates how the linking of reward to open publishing (in the case of the RAE, financial reward for institutions who demonstrated sufficient impact through research publications) can encourage openness.
Library staff considered that the primary reasons for people not engaging in OER were a lack of understanding of Creative Commons licensing specifically and copyright licensing more generally, together with a lack of digital literacy skills amongst those designing and developing teaching and learning resources. This is indicative of a need for more information and training to be made available in these areas.
Librarians predominantly find out about new tools and technologies through events, their professional association and mailing lists. This makes these the most beneficial routes to target in order to effectively disseminate information to this group of staff.
A clear majority of library staff indicated a need for more targeted information on OER and licensing. This requirement comprised of two parts – a need for more information and a need for different delivery methods of the information made available.
These conclusions indicate that the next steps should include a focus on improving knowledge around licensing for teaching and learning resource materials, as well as on improving digital literacy skills within institutions. This is something that can be tackled within institutions but is also something that can be included in the professional development activities run by professional associations.