Tag Archives: open educational resources

How IFLA’s volunteers are building understanding and action on Open Access

Happy Open Access Week 2021!

How to achieve Open Access – and in particular the theme of this year’s week, ‘it matters how we open knowledge’ – is a question mobilising libraries and library organisations around the world.

With the world far from a situation where all scholarly communication is open, and important questions being raised both about how to avoid creating new inequities and how to avoid inadvertent harm. The value of exploring these questions together, to share perspectives and ensure a more complete picture, is high.

IFLA itself is currently looking again at its own Open Access statement, and looking forward to sharing a revised version in the coming months. In this blog, we wanted to bring together some examples of what volunteers from across IFLA are currently doing to advance understanding and progress the debate.

Open Access and Serials Assessment: our Serials and other Continuing Resources Section dedicated a session at the World Library and Information Congress to the impact of OA on serials assessment, looking at what can be done to tackle a phenomenon which has received a lot of attention – the rise of questionable journals.

The session brought together representatives of publishers and reference platforms (in Latin America, Africa, and global), and looked at the criteria and tools being developed to weed out poor quality journals, and the impact that they have had, highlighting the different approaches open to the topic.

Power of Transformation: OA and Library Collections: our Acquisition and Collections Development Section also focused on Open Access at the World Library and Information Congress, looking at the impacts of open access in their area of focus – collections development.

With perspectives from libraries in developing and developed countries alike, speakers addressed the disruption that OA could cause, and how libraries can respond, as well as the importance of investing in infrastructure.

Drawing on Openly Licenced Materials in Education: the Information Technology Section looked specifically at the use of open access materials and tools in education (Open Educational Resources – OER), and the role that IT systems play in making this work. It noted the role that ICT can play in developing and enhancing OER initiatives, boosting discoverability and quality, while keeping costs under control.

Speakers focused on the leadership role that librarians can play in the movement, including through the open education librarianship movement, as well as how the development of new systems could help ensure easier access to the huge and diverse range of materials available to support learning.

Rights Retention and Open Access: the Academic and Research Libraries Section ran a series of three webinars with Plan S, discussing the latter’s proposals for a strategy on rights retention could apply in different parts of the world. The webinars – for Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Oceania, and the Middle East and North Africa/Sub-Saharan Africa – included presentation on the Plan S Strategy, but also opportunities to highlight the impacts that this could have on existing open access practices, as well as raising important questions about different approaches to openness.

Document Supply and Open Access: the Resource-Sharing During COVID (RSCVD) Initiative run by IFLA’s Document Delivery and Resource Sharing Section, the winner of IFLA’s Dynamic Unit Award in 2020, worked closely with Open Access Button in order to enable access to knowledge during the pandemic. The work provided a great opportunity to highlight the power of open access to support research, as well as familiarising more of the field with Open Access Button as a tool.

Open Access Library Publishing: IFLA’s Library Publishing Special Interest Group brings together expertise and experience from around the world in order to discuss practices and models for sustainable and effective publishing through libraries. The Group has organised webinars and other tools to build understanding, including insights around how to manage open access publishing programmes that respond effectively to the needs of researchers and users.

Fostering creation of Open Educational Resources

From 1 to 5 March 2021, libraries take part in Open Education Week alongside educational stakeholders.

In November 2019, UNESCO adopted a recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER). This recommendation, a result of a consensus among 193 Member States, recognises the importance of supporting the development, sharing and use of openly licenced educational materials to improve access to education for all.

Libraries, as a driving force in educational issues through their missions of access to information and education, have a role to play in fostering the development of OER and thus in advancing this work.

The UNESCO recommendation is divided into five areas of action:

Building the capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER;
Developing supportive policy for OER;
Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;
Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and
Promoting and reinforcing international cooperation in OER.

These 5 areas of action make it possible to identify areas for action by all educational actors, including libraries. They include two levels of action, at the structural level and at the practical level. Libraries can engage in both.

At the structural, or policy level, libraries can work to influence the development of favourable open educational resource policies (many of which will be supportive of wider library missions). Crucially, the Recommendation represents an acknowledgement from countries that education is key and should be open to everyone without regard to their wealth, where they are born, the colour of their skins, their gender, their religion, age or abilities. Knowledge must be open and freely accessible. This is a powerful message.

At the practical level, libraries can also contribute to building a stronger Open Educational Resource chain. This chain involves the creation, access, re-use, adaptation and distribution of OERs, but also the development of institutional policies needed to structure these resources, including national and international platforms.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Identify the different actors that can play a role in the development of open educational resources, including the library team, the educational team, teachers, researchers.
  • Mobilise these actors through different actions: presentation of the objectives of the development of open educational resources, why it is important to tackle these issues of openness and the benefits this can bring to the library, the university and users in general.
  • Create opportunities to raise awareness of these issues or develop resources: webinars, meetings, design workshops,
  • Create opportunities to start creating OERs together: design templates, provide workshops to take the time to focus on the creation of OER but also how to re-use and distribute them.
  • Identify resources or professionals working on the same topic and contact them to exchange practices. Become part of a network or set up a discussion group to exchange good practices or existing structural elements that will enable you to move forward.
  • Identify internal or external platforms that could bring together your institution’s resources in order to facilitate their discovery by users.
  • Draw on the potential of open educational resources to fulfil the primary mission of libraries and knowledge dissemination centres: to build a sustainable means of providing quality open educational resources.
  • Bear in mind the reputational dividends: the constitution of quality open educational resources (materials or courses) by recognised organisations can give considerable visibility to the institution, especially if we consider the impact on the visibility of open access items.
  • Invite external professionals to raise awareness on this issue within your institution: working with an external contact person allows you to combine neutrality but also a national or international perspective.

Discover the document of SPARC Europe on Open Education in European Libraries of High Education.


Open Education Week 2020

This week, IFLA celebrates Open Education Week 2020 alongside many other educational and cultural stakeholders.

What is Open Education?

Open Education is a global movement that aims to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge to citizens around the world through open educational resources, tools and best practices.

But what does ‘open’ mean? It refers to resources which are in the public domain or which were created with an open license to allow them to be shared and reused for free by others around the world.

Why is this important?

Every individual in the world has a right to access to education and knowledge. These in turn are key to global development.

Providing access to education through resources and tools means giving everyone the opportunity to learn and develop.

It is also an opportunity to conceive of education as a lever to fight against poverty in the world (SDG1), to allow access to better jobs (SDG8), and to reduce inequalities between men and women (SDG5), and between countries (SDG10).

Latest update

UNESCO adopted a recommendation in November 2019 on Open Educational Resources (OER), promoting the development of five strategic objectives:

  • Building the capacity of stakeholders to create access, use, adapt and redistribute OER;
  • Developing supportive policy;
  • Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;
  • Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER;
  • Facilitating international cooperation.

IFLA has been involved in this process for many years, and welcomes this work, which in particular stresses the importance of the role of librarians in the creation of educational content and the place of access to these resources.

How can libraries support this global objective?

Clarify the status of your resource:

If your library creates educational content, it is crucial to be transparent about how your audience can use it (e.g. sharing, reusing, modifying). It is therefore important to carefully choose the licence you wish to use (see creative commons licences) or specify it with public domain mark.

The slightest doubt about the possibility of use can discourage public sharing.

Enhance your resources via your institutional channels

Does your library have (open) educational resources to share? Feel free to highlight them on your website or through your social networks to reach out teachers or educational networks.

Share these resources via an external site

There are also sites that promote free educational resources in several languages, such as the Open Education Week site.

Education: our Greatest Renewable Resource

Think of a renewable resource.

Was the first image that came to your mind of wind turbines in the distance, glittering solar panels, or a great, churning waterfall? You certainly wouldn’t be wrong. We often look to our natural environment for resources that drive our ways of life and fuel our future. But what if we look more inward?

What if we look to people?

Education is humanity’s greatest renewable resource, according to the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO).  The UN has marked 24 January as the International Day of Education in order to re-affirm its importance in creating both human well-being and sustainable development.

This is captured in the theme for the International Day of Education 2020: Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace.

If education is a valuable resource for the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants, we look to teachers, schools, libraries, information specialists and memory institutions as the infrastructure needed to access it.

A Goldmine of Information

Education and learning go beyond the classroom. Education is both formal and informal, from early childhood to post-doctorate, at all stages of life and for all people.

Libraries are “education for all” institutions, built through their strong, fundamental belief in universal and equitable access to information.

IFLA’s core values include:

  •  The belief that people, communities and organisations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being
  • The conviction that delivery of high-quality library and information services helps guarantee that access

To extend this metaphor even further: libraries are mines of information, and the library professional is the guide to help one discover gold.

Learning to be a Global Citizen

Global Citizenship is an identity born through education, story and knowledge sharing, cultural expressions, mutual respect and solidarity.

IFLA believes that freedom of expression, access to information, preservation and access to cultural heritage, and information literacy are central in developing societies where people can identify as global citizens. This is reflected in our vision of a strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participative societies.

If global citizenship is identity based on a connection to humanity that transcends borders, then the access to that humanity, through education and access to information, is paramount.

Growing global citizens means providing the resources, opportunities and platforms for education, and empowering individuals to use them to take action for people, planet, prosperity and peace.  As a provider of these resources, opportunities and platforms, libraries are a rich vein in which to cultivate our most valuable renewable resource.

 We invite our members to think about how they can grow their potential as providers of information, education and lifelong learning. 

For more, take a look at IFLA’s Brief on Open Educational Resources.  It underlines the role that librarians can play in creating, curating and ensuring access to these materials, and key issues surrounding Open Educational Resources.