Open educatiOnal ResOuRces as leaRning MateRials: pROspects and stRategies fOR univeRsity libRaRies
SEPTEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
those licenses must provide adequate access for multiple users. And, important for any resources
being provided by the campus or the library, the materials must be fully accessible to all students.
ARL has recently published two reports, the Report of the ARL Joint Task Force on Services to Patrons with
Print Disabilities14 and “Massive Open Online Courses [MOOCs]: Legal and Policy Issues for Research
Libraries,” an ARL Issue Brief,15 that are very helpful in understanding the complexity of these issues.
While assessment of student and faculty satisfaction is still under way, preliminary indications are
that both groups are very satisfied with efforts to challenge the existing model of expensive commercial
textbooks with a model using OERs. One-time savings to students of over $205,000 have resulted from
an initial investment of $27,000—and these savings will multiply each time the course is taught. Working
with faculty and commercial publishers to promote and facilitate the adoption of open educational
resources and other hybrid models places the libraries in an excellent position to uphold their public land-
grant mission and to gain support from campus administration, parents, and students.
1 Tim O’Reilly, “The Open Source Paradigm Shift,” June 2004 (article based on presentation, Warburg-
Pincus Technology, Media, and Telecommunications annual conference, May 2003), http://www.
2 There is a fourth category: “common-pool resources” that are subtractable goods but are also
difficult to exclude people from using. Goods that fall under this category are often natural
resources like fisheries, water resources, and forests. This category isn’t as relevant in the context of
3 Michael Wesch, “Web 2.0…The Machine is Us/ing Us,” YouTube video, updated on Jan. 31, 2007,
4 Molly Redden, “7 in 10 Students Have Skipped Buying a Textbook Because of Its
Cost, Survey Finds,” Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 23, 2011, http://chronicle.com/
5 In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), amendment to Textbook
Provision section 112, section 133 dictates:
(a) PURPOSE AND INTENT.—The purpose of this section is to ensure that students
have access to affordable course materials by decreasing costs to students and enhancing
transparency and disclosure with respect to the selection, purchase, sale, and use of course
materials. It is the intent of this section to encourage all of the involved parties, including
faculty, students, administrators, institutions of higher education, bookstores, distributors,
and publishers, to work together to identify ways to decrease the cost of college textbooks
and supplemental materials for students while supporting the academic freedom of
faculty members to select high quality course materials for students.