:sync: How European Libraries of Higher Education are Supporting Open Education Today

Author: Vanessa Proudman
Institution: SPARC Europe
Country: Netherlands

Topic: Applications of Open Education Practices/Open Pedagogy/Open Education Research
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Building capacity
Session Format: Presentation


European academic libraries have taken a leadership role in advancing Open Scholarship and Open Science in the last two decades. Recent policy development around Open Science has prompted a surge in implementation activities. Open Education Policy has also been in the making for over a decade, with the UNESCO OER Recommendation ratified in late 2019. It's here that the next wave of university challenges lie as some universities are aiming for a more open, visible and accessible university by embracing open in not only research, but also in education through Open Education (OE).

Scores of Higher Education libraries in the US have taken on the OER challenge building great momentum for over 5 years with over 130 organisations reporting OER activities in the 2019 SPARC OER Report. We believe that European libraries will follow suit and engage more in this area in the coming decade with a similar commitment shown to Open Science in time. However, before we determine what the next strategic steps for libraries are – also to help support the UNESCO OER Recommendation – it is vital that we gain a better understanding of current OE policy and practice in Europe.

In late 2019 SPARC Europe, in consultation with the European Open Education Librarian Network, carried out research into how libraries in Higher Education are supporting Open Education to gain insights into Open Education practices within academic libraries in Europe. The survey was the first of its kind and saw more than 125 responses from over 20 European countries. This paper will share the survey’s key results. It reveals to what extent respondents have OE policies, and where, and how far libraries have been involved in their conception. We delineate the main roles that libraries take in OE/OER management. The paper then highlights what kinds of OE / OER services libraries currently provide and how far they take the lead or support in these. To support that work, we inform on whether libraries perceive that they have the skills they need to support OE sufficiently and compare this with the current service offering. The paper will also share some of the top challenges and key opportunities in supporting OE as perceived by libraries today in in the areas of culture and the environment, resources, quality, access and reuse and policy. Finally, the presentation ends by proposing recommendations for concrete action whilst making the case for why libraries in Higher Education are important partners in delivering on the UNESCO OER Recommendation five areas of action.


libraries in Higher Education, research, Europe

If you’d like to find out more about the status of libraries of Higher Ed in Open Education in Europe, please join us at this session! The more the merrier!

OEGlobal_2020_SPARCEurope.pdf (8.2 MB)

Session recording: