What Can OER Advocates Learn From The Traditional Faculty Textbook Adoption Experience? is a poster in the 2020 PNLA Virtual Poster Session. We encourage you to engage in discussion by leaving a comment on the page. The author of the poster will respond to comments the week of August 4-7, 2020.

Presenters: Jylisa Doney, & Jessica Martinez, Rick Stoddart

Track: Academic Library

Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated the positive impacts that Open Educational Resources (OER) can have on student retention and learning, but these connections may not be compelling enough to persuade faculty to adopt OER resources in lieu of traditional textbooks and materials. What are OER advocates missing? What could OER advocates do better or differently? To be successful with OER, it is important to understand not only what OER is replicating or replacing in the classroom, but also understand the whole faculty experience around textbook adoption. How do faculty hear about textbooks? How do vendors communicate with faculty? What are faculty expectations when interacting with new textbooks? This poster reports on a campus survey of faculty and their experiences and expectations regarding textbooks adoption. The results of the survey suggest some lessons OER advocates can learn from when interacting with faculty about textbook selection options such as OER.


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About the Presenters:

Jylisa Doney (jylisadoney@uidaho.edu) is the Social Sciences Librarian at the University of Idaho.

Jessica Martinez (jessicamartinez@uidaho.edu) is the Science Librarian at the University of Idaho.

Rick Stoddart (ricks@uoregon.edu) is the Assessment Coordinator at University of Oregon.

We are all OER advocates.

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3 years ago

On behalf of Jylisa, Jessica, and myself — We are excited to share our research with you! Let us know if you have any questions about this poster.

David Luftig
Reply to  Rick
3 years ago

This is a very interesting study. First, I was surprised that so few instructors learned about textbooks from librarians but the more I thought about it, the more realistic it seemed (at least from my experiences). It’s also not surprising, but perhaps a bit regrettable, that vendors are such influencers when it comes to choosing texts. Did anything surprise you about the data? Was any of the findings anticipated?

Also, I like you’re “Looking Ahead” section. I’d be interested to know how these strategies work out.

Reply to  David Luftig
3 years ago

For me the most surprising/not-surprising thing is that faculty did not view librarians as peers — and because they were not viewed as peers then they did not seek out textbook advice from the library very often — nor consider it a place with any expertise in that area. Ultimately, like we do with our patrons — we want to save the faculty member time and get them access to resources they need — trust me they need OER — so looking ahead — the more libraries can focus on the social and community-aspect of librarianship — the better. Libraries can serve a role of connecting and giving access to faculty peers — these peers can then advocate for OER usage. So strategies like cohort building, open-access workshops, faculty recognition etc — are great ways to do emphasize the social part of OER advocacy. .

Hanwen Dong
Reply to  Rick
3 years ago

Hi Rick, can you provide some more information on your observation regarding faculty not viewing us as peers? Was it, potentially, due to a lack of understanding of our roles, a lack of respecting our academic credentials since most of us do not possess a PhD, or was it due to other reasons that you suspect? Please feel free to share your insights. Thanks.

Jylisa Doney
Reply to  Hanwen Dong
3 years ago

Hi Hanwen. Thank you for your question! Our survey didn’t include a follow-up question regarding why faculty viewed certain people as peers, so this could definitely be a future line of inquiry. However, I suspect there may be a few reasons why librarians were not seen this way. 

As you mentioned, some faculty may not know about the various roles librarians play and the services we can provide related to textbook adoption. We can always do better marketing ourselves! Next, even though I strongly believe that faculty respect librarians’ academic credentials, if we don’t have a disciplinary degree, faculty may not view us in the same light as their disciplinary peers. In my opinion, this makes complete sense! I am a Social Sciences Librarian and liaise with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, but I am not a sociologist or anthropologist.

One of our big takeaways from this study was that librarians need to be realistic about how we are viewed by our campus communities. We have to consider whether being seen as a “peer” is necessary to successfully support faculty in their textbook adoption decisions. Honestly, I think being seen as an academic colleague is just as useful! As academic colleagues, we have unique skills and knowledge that can help disciplinary faculty address their “top challenges when adopting textbooks,” even if we never receive a disciplinary Master’s degree or PhD. In my opinion, the challenge lies in helping faculty expand their textbook adoption networks to include both disciplinary peers and academic colleagues (like librarians). This will likely take time, but I am confident that libraries/librarians are up to the task.

Rick and Jessica — please feel free to share your perspectives too!

Reply to  Jylisa Doney
3 years ago


We aren’t able to drill down specifically to your question. I am drawing this idea that librarians are not seen as peers from the fact on the survey that librarians were only consulted by 3% of our survey respondents but peers were consulted 27% of the time — so the survey did break that out — if librarians were peers I would assume the librarian response would be higher than 3%.

From my experience — I think one of the reasons that faculty may not see us as peers as we often do not interact in the same spaces — so faculty actually do not “see” librarians in action. Often with OER efforts we invite faculty into library spaces for workshops, to discover OER, etc — that can be a big burden for faculty to travel into a library space. Why not go to them? Textbook vendors actually go into faculty spaces to hold their demos (conferences, etc.) and or send items directly to faculty offices, etc. One aspect of OER advocacy is getting reviews of textbooks — this that “peer pressure” for a faculty person to consider an OER.

The more librarians can create places that both OER faculty peer allies and librarians can interact with faculty on their own turf — the more faculty might see librarians as peers. I think it is the interaction piece that is missing not necessarily the PHD credential piece.

David Luftig
Reply to  Rick
3 years ago

Very interesting. Thanks for the response and info!