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Open Educational Resources (OER) and U.S. Federal Government Documents

As part of the 2022 Annual Federal Depository Library Program Conference held online this week, a special 50 minute “Snacks with Federal Depository Library Council” session focused on open educational resources (OER). This is a topic that hasn’t been formally presented in past conferences, so it was a refreshing and informative conversation. Attendees were asked about their involvement in the creation and promotion of open educational resources, and examples of OER government-related projects were highlighted, such as Oregon Department of Education: Open Learning, NASA STEM and DocsTeach. The lively chat session in the accompanying chat box included members sharing examples of OER Libguides they had published and mentioning non-governmental websites such as OER Commons that had open educational resources about American government. It was noted that in addition to open textbooks, there were other open educational resources to be found, such as data and data visualization sources located on North Dakota State University Library’s webpage, images found on USA.gov, and the Library of Congress, and open educational materials about finance and economics from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. One result of the session was that Federal Depository Library Program staff will now create a Libguide highlighting the resources discussed during the session.

It’s true: a large preponderance of federal government documents are in the public domain, yet it is still best to check the source as sometimes images are copyrighted, or independent contractors’ works published for the federal governmental agencies may also be copyrighted. Issues to consider when determining the copyright of federal government documents are mentioned in U.S. Government Works. Efforts have been taken in many states to use open educational resources to solve textbook affordability issues, and they are described in the OER State Policy Playbook. Also, the Affordable Textbook Act, which is legislation to support open educational resources (OER) was introduced to Congress on March 9, 2022. 

For more information about activities of the Federal Depository Library Program, and Myrin Library’s government documents collection, contact: Kerry Gibson Collection Management Librarian and Federal Depository Library Coordinator.

For more information about Open Educational Resources (OER) in general, contact Diane Skorina, Librarian of the College, and check out Library and Information Technology’s Open Educational Resources Libguide

Open Access Week is next week: October 24 – October 30, 2022.

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Kerry Gibson, Collection Management Librarian

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