Academic institutions are increasingly developing programmatic approaches to support the creation,
adoption, and adaptation of aﬀordable course content (ACC) and open educational resources (OER) as
part of wider strategic initiatives to enhance the access to and aﬀordability of higher education and to
improve teaching and learning. Aﬀordable course content may include materials that are library-licensed
or available at a low additional cost to students. Open educational resources are one type of aﬀordable
content; OER refers to any type or format of content or software that is in the public domain or licensed
with a Creative Commons, GNU public license, or any other intellectual property license that allows
free use, modiﬁcation, and redistribution. Such materials share the idea of adaptability, low or no cost to
students, and more control for faculty who use them.
In addition to teaching and learning units and faculty development centers, academic libraries
often play signiﬁcant or lead roles in ACC/OER programs. Library expertise in copyright and licensing,
networks of faculty relationships, and emerging involvement in instructional design and digital
publishing present opportunities to create open education and aﬀordability initiatives that will bear a
lasting institution-wide contribution to student academic achievement and faculty engagement. These
initiatives are also a quantitative way that libraries may demonstrate their value in enhanced learning
opportunities and reduced costs for students.
The purpose of this survey was to determine the degree to which ARL member institutions
are engaged in ACC/OER advocacy, support, and development. The survey was designed to gather
information on ACC/OER initiatives at the institutional level and the role of the library in these
initiatives. It asked about initiatives’ origins, implementation, governance, and funding, incentives for
faculty participation, and the types of aﬀordable/open course content that have been developed. It also
explored library support of ACC/OER activities with staﬃng and services. The survey was distributed
to the 124 ARL member libraries in March 2016. Sixty-ﬁve (52%) responded by the April 16 deadline.
Of these institutions, 46 have or are planning an ACC/OER initiative. Another 12 plan to investigate the
possibility in the near future.
Campus-wide ACC/OER initiatives are started and sustained by a myriad of actors, generally with the
purposes of improving educational quality and reducing student learning resource costs. Responding
institutions reported a diverse range of projects that include open courseware initiatives, digital course
packs, interactive course companions, open or low-cost textbook adoption/creation, and use of public
2 Survey Results: Executive Summary