Leveraging Cataloging and Collection Development Expertise to Improve OER Discovery


  • Clare Sobotka Linn-Benton Community College
  • Holly Wheeler Mt. Hood Community College
  • Heather White Mt. Hood Community College




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While there is ongoing improvement in some of the larger open educational resources (OER) search engines, librarians sending emails to listservs asking “anyone know of OER on this topic?” and keeping old-fashioned reading lists of valuable OER are common occurrences. Compared to searching for books in a library catalog or scholarly articles in a research database, finding OER wherever they may be is challenging even for librarians, not to mention instructional faculty. The reason is technical: subpar and variable metadata in OER search engines leads to difficulties searching, capturing, and sharing data across repositories. In other words, the current lack of robust, descriptive metadata for OER results in fewer access points. Thus, OER are comparatively hard to find.

Bibliographic control for purposes of information storage and retrieval is something librarians are experts in, but we have not shared our methods with the Open Education community yet. So far, the majority of library advocates for OER have been reference and instruction librarians, as well as library directors. This is great, and we need them to continue to champion OER creation and adoption, but the Open Education movement needs technical services librarians to step forward and apply their cataloging and systems administration expertise to streamline access to the sprawling landscape of OER content; our profession would do well to share our collection development expertise as well. To this end, Clare Sobotka, Reference Assistant at Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC), Holly Wheeler, Library Cataloging and Metadata Specialist at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC), and Heather White, Library Technical Services & OER Coordinator, along with their colleagues, have started to experiment with creating collection development policies and MARC records for OER. Ultimately, they hope for the development of a metadata schema that is shared between the Open Education and library communities and is mapped to MARC and RDA, to improve both catalog records and OER search engines across the web.


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Author Biographies

Clare Sobotka, Linn-Benton Community College

Clare Sobotka received her MLS from Indiana University in 2013 and currently works as a Reference Assistant at Linn-Benton Community College’s Healthcare Occupations Center in Lebanon, Oregon. She does a bit of everything from circulation, cataloging, reference, and information literacy instruction to tech help. She is also part of the Quality Team for Oregon’s statewide library chat service, Answerland.

Holly Wheeler, Mt. Hood Community College

Holly Wheeler is an MLIS graduate of the iSchool at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a long-time midwesterner. In 2018, she was delighted to finally return to her home state of Oregon and join the team at Mt. Hood Community College as the library’s Cataloging and Metadata Specialist. She has long been interested in the overlap of cataloging and technology. When she’s not wrangling metadata, she enjoys spending time with her family and cat, reading the many books that follow her home from work, and embroidering

Heather White, Mt. Hood Community College

Heather White graduated with an MLS from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2004. She began her library career in Buffalo as a high school librarian responsible for, among other things, cataloging in Dewey; she made the jump to academic libraries in 2006 as a reference and instruction librarian, which brought her to Portland, OR in 2007. Technical Services has always been her primary career interest, so when she was hired as the Library Technical Services & OER Coordinator for Mt. Hood Community College Library in 2011, she was relieved to be back in her niche.




How to Cite

Sobotka, C., Wheeler, H., & White, H. (2019). Leveraging Cataloging and Collection Development Expertise to Improve OER Discovery. OLA Quarterly, 25(1), 17–24. https://doi.org/10.7710/1093-7374.1971