Interview with Sarah Hare

Sarah Hare is currently the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Indiana University, where she works on several open and library publishing initiatives. In her previous position at Davidson College, Sarah led two Open Educational Resource (OER) initiatives. In addition to co-authoring a chapter on interinstitutional collaborations to advance OER outreach for OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians, Sarah has been invited to guest lecture and present on OER to LIS courses, professional development organizations, and an international librarian group. Sarah teaches a class on Open Educational Resources for us. She has agreed to be interviewed here, to give people a better sense of who she is and what they can expect from her class.

Hi Sarah. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about OER, Rory!

I would like to start just by asking you to talk about yourself a little bit and how you became interested in open educational resources.

Sure, I’d be happy to. My name is Sarah and I’m currently the instructor for the Library Juice Academy “Introduction to OER” course. I’ve been doing open education outreach since I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois. I’m a first generation college student, so I originally became interested in OER because of the cost savings and increased access that OER can offer when used as an alternative to expensive course materials. I started working at a small liberal arts college as an information literacy librarian and I quickly realized that conversations about open pedagogy and student-created OER could also help spark fruitful conversations with faculty about instruction. To me, OER outreach is a unique intersection of the best parts of my scholarly communication/ open work and my instruction/ pedagogy work. It’s an opportunity to talk to faculty about open access, Creative Commons, instructional design, publishing, and even discovery, preservation, and metadata while also working to increase student retention and access to higher education.

That’s great. I’m noticing however that you’re talking about things that possibly not all of our readers know enough about to completely follow you. Could you explain a little bit about what OER is? And then maybe go on to say a little bit about what role the library can play in it?

Of course! This is something we’ll cover more in the first week of the course as well. An OER is a learning object (i.e. anything used in learning and teaching, including a syllabus, worksheet, textbook, tutorial, wiki, etc.) that is licensed under an intellectual property license that enables others to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the object. David Wiley calls this framework or litmus test for OER the 5 Rs. It’s important not to conflate free and open when determining if a learning object is an OER. The presence of a Creative Commons license is key since that’s what enables others to legally revise and remix the OER and continue to improve the learning object.

I touched on this in my last response, but I think that librarians from all areas and specialties have a lot to contribute to the conversation on OER. Many librarians are experts at locating and evaluating information, which is incredibly useful for helping faculty find quality OER. Instruction librarians understand instructional design and know how to work with faculty to write learning objectives, find OER that align with those objectives, and assess the effectiveness of the OER throughout the course. Librarians with expertise in open access, copyright, and publishing can even help faculty create and share OER.

Pretty exciting stuff. Now, would you describe the course itself?

Sure. The course is six weeks and it is a survey of both OER and open pedagogy fundamentals. I use the first three weeks to help participants gain a deeper understanding of OER issues. We focus on definitions and misconceptions of OER, where to find OER, and tips for conveying the many benefits of open education to administrators and faculty. I use the last three weeks to challenge participants to apply what they learned by writing an OER initiative proposal. I ask participants to tailor their proposal to their specific campus context (i.e. size, culture, mission, library buy in). As part of the course, each participant gets extensive feedback from another student and myself so that they can refine their proposal before it goes live. In addition to the proposal, students get hands-on experience finding OER, learn how to apply Creative Commons licenses, and practice “pitching” OER to an administrator on their campus.

Sounds excellent and very practical. At the time of this interview you’ve taught the class once already. How was your experience teaching it? Did you learn anything new? Were there any surprises?

Yes! Last class, we had almost 30 participants from a variety of institutions and contexts. I learned a lot from my students, particularly those that had a different context than my own (including community college librarians and a staff member at a scholarly society). At the end of the course, I received feedback that the course was excellent but a lot of work. For this second iteration, I plan to break the outreach plan up a bit so that we complete a small portion of the plan each week. This is better scaffolding and I think it will help students balance the course work and all of their other existing commitments. Last class I also asked students to review each other’s outreach plans. Some students told me that this was the most useful part of the class because they got to compare their outreach plan with someone else’s. So I’ve taken this feedback to heart too! This January, I’ll divide students into small groups so that they have a chance to see at least two other outreach plans in order to refine their own.

I really enjoyed teaching the LJA OER course last spring. It helped remind me of why I’m so passionate about OER, librarianship, and teaching/ empowering others.

That is great to hear! I have one final question… If you could teach any other classes for LJA, what would they be?

Wow, great question. It would be exciting to create and teach a library publishing course. I started a new position in May 2017 and a lot of what I do focuses on publishing. I interface with the press at our institution, use Open Journal Systems to facilitate open access journal publishing, and even teach an academic publishing and editing class to undergraduate students. Library publishing is a growing library specialization and I hope it will continue to develop as libraries invest more heavily in open access and open source infrastructure. Currently, there is an IMLS grant to develop a curriculum for library-based publishing, so I hope that librarians start to have at least one source for education in this area.

Great idea! We can talk about that further later on. It’s been great talking to you about your OER class. Thanks again for doing this interview.

Thanks for interviewing me. Anyone with questions about the OER class is welcome to e-mail me at

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