:sync: The “Summer of Open” Policy & Metadata: Mutually-informed Initiatives to Facilitate Sustained OER Collection Development

Authors: Vanja Stojanovic, Samantha Daniels
Institution: eCampusOntario
Country: Canada

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


As a response to the global challenges of transitioning to online learning, eCampusOntario launched a mediated deposit pilot in June 2020 with the aim of growing the Open Library collection, effectively pivoting from a passive OER submission model to an actively engaged collections strategy. This presentation demonstrates the strategic alignment of two foundational initiatives during the “Summer of Open” that facilitated informed, proactive organizational decision-making and supported the sustainable growth of the library collection beyond the pilot.

The first initiative includes the design and creation of an OER collection development policy in support of both organizational goals and that of Ontario’s OER community. Although this type of policy is common in institutional library settings, very few exist for OER repositories, let alone any that are specific to active collection development. Developing an OER-specific collection policy provided a unique opportunity to explore how such a document can provide guidance for the effective deposit of curricular resources and facilitate the sustainable growth of an OER collection. The presentation will speak to the policy’s creation, underscoring its value as a living community document that reflects provincial, national, and ultimately, global Open Education priorities and practices.

The second initiative was the development of an enhanced metadata application profile. As a means to standardize the description of the information that is stored about the resources in our Open Library collection (ex. title, author), the application profile also led to an investigation of the greater OER landscape. With metadata as the foundational tool for supporting enhanced service offerings (such as advanced search functionality, cross-repository metadata harvesting, and MARC21 format integration), all work to ensure the usage and application of metadata in compliance with global, local and community standards permits future integration of these functions and mediates the Open Library’s sustainable growth. As such, the metadata application profile not only reflects the collection development policy, but also highlights the possible future directions in which the policy may evolve.

With OER collection growth and improved resource discovery as the ultimate goals of these projects, developing them in tandem facilitated the necessary conversations that ensured the library policy and technical infrastructure supported and enhanced one-another. These conversations resulted in two collaborative and mutually-informed documents, where each project built upon and facilitated the development of the other: the collection development policy characterizes the present landscape of the library collection, serving the needs of Ontario’s educators, while the metadata application profile details possible future directions for metadata-enabled library services. Together, the two documents identify the gaps that exist between present and possible future directions and act as a guide for strategic decision-making to support sustainable growth of the Open Library’s collection and infrastructure.

This presentation will share the development of these documents and the spontaneous conversations about policy decisions, future directions, and strategies for mitigating barriers to repository deposit, access and use that led to a collaborative and integrated effort to the benefit of eCampusOntario and the greater community.


Collection development policy, Metadata application profile, Mediated deposit


Hello! Samantha and I look forward to sharing our OER collection development experience at eCampusOntario!


Hi Samantha and Vanja, I am looking forward to your presentation. I’ve been chatting with Lillian about the work you’ve been doing on metadata and am excited to see where you are at :slight_smile:


Hello everyone! Follow this link to view our presentation slide deck: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1HznNGMrPXxN5vn8dCsOG5XfgXc4wyz-cCv-tW1GbjHU/edit?usp=sharing

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And here are copies of the Collection Development Policy and the Metadata Application Profile that we will be talking about today!

eCampusOntario Open Library MAP.pdf (871.8 KB) OER Collection Development Policy_final draft.pdf (493.7 KB)


Hello! A few follow-up questions, if you wouldn’t mind.

  1. I like the template for filling in MAP information! How did you determine what MAP information is required, and what is recommended and optional?
  2. How does your OER-specific controlled-vocabulary subject list differ from existing standardized lists (e.g., LOC, UNESCO, MeSH, ANSI/NISO)?
  3. Are the searchable metadata elements discoverable via internet search engines? Or only within your library catalog system?
  4. Are you registering (and paying for) ISBNs for OER books?

I would love to know what the answers are to Anita’s questions as well!


Thank you for the questions! I can definitely answer those for you!

  1. I could do an entire presentation on this alone! Overall, it comes down to a few different things. Some elements are required based on metadata harvesting protocols and our desired alignments with certain schemas. For example, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries are in the midst of a project that would see all Canadian institutional repositories align with OpenAIRE guidelines. We think it’s important to keep OER in alignment with other open research outputs and to facilitate harvesting from our member institutions’ repositories, so we also have chosen to uphold OpenAIRE metadata specs. Most of the other required elements are based on details about the resource that facilitate extended search and discoverability within our online library. The recommended and optional elements fall into those categories for various reasons - occasionally it is due to the inconsistent availability of the information and in other instances it is something that we’re interested in pursuing more directly in the future and are “passively” collecting until then. Please let me know if you have more questions about this: I can give you more information about our decision for specific elements, about the metadata schemas we explored, etc.

  2. Our subject controlled vocabulary is meant to be granular enough to support effective search and discoverability. Our collection isn’t large enough to make use of LOC, DDC, MeSH, etc. effectively, and we wanted to make our subject vocabulary specific to a learning context - our subject topics more closely reflect the structuring of higher education departments and course clusters to better match the context from which our users are coming from and operating within. We do also record LOC, DDC, MeSH, etc. subject headings for a resource when they’re available as an author-supplied keyword (in the Subject Keyword element) which would help to facilitate any future integration of these vocabularies should our library evolve to justify or require that.

  3. Within the MAP, “searchable” designates that the element is searchable within the Open Library catalogue system. However, the back end of the Open Library (DSpace) is indexed by Google Scholar and it has an open REST API that can be queried by anyone. Additionally, we’re looking to open up our repository to metadata harvesting through OAI-PMH soon, which would further increase resource discoverability.

  4. In Canada any one can register an ISBN for free, however, we are not a publisher so we don’t offer that as a service. We simply record ISBNs within our catalogue when resources have them.

I hope I’ve answered your questions fully, please let me know if I can elaborate or clear up anything or if you have more questions - I love talking metadata :slight_smile: !


This is great, thank you! I am interested in metadata’s potential for improving OER discovery via SEO, as well as UDL via alt-text and HTML tags. At Salt Lake Community College, we are building our OER library using Pressbooks, which supports metadata features. :nerd_face:

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