Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Open Educational Resources Promotions Guide: Home

OER Promotions Guide by Janet Swatscheno as part of the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program


Open educational resources (OER) and open textbooks have been around for more than a decade. A study by Babson Survey Research Group found that 10% of faculty reported being “very aware” and 20% of faculty reported being “aware” of OER. Increasingly, campus libraries are involved in promoting adoption, adaption, and publishing of open resources. Many institutions have created incentive programs to encourage OER use, with libraries providing financial, personnel, and publishing support.

A challenge many librarians and library publishers face is how to get the word out about newly published OER. It is difficult for libraries to compete with commercial publishers of textbooks and educational resources, thus OER is underused. Large commercial publishers have the money and personnel to do significant outreach and marketing in order to sell their textbooks and corresponding products. Increasingly, publishers are creating open educational resources and selling related proprietary products like test banks, slides, and online platforms which can lock-in courses to specific products. Publishers regularly host on-campus events, sending multiple sales representatives who present high-quality video advertisements of their products. Sometimes publishers go directly to departments to present their textbooks and related products. This type of marketing and outreach costs a lot of money and typically libraries and individual authors do not have the time or resources to market their publications in this way. Libraries and open content producers often must rely on inexpensive methods for getting the word out like word of mouth and social media.

This resource is meant to provide librarians, library publishers, and self-publishing authors a simple guide to promoting newly published open textbooks and OER. It provides practical advice for marketing open textbooks, examples of press releases, blog posts, and social media posts, and advice from librarians with expertise in OER publishing.

Another comprehensive an open source resource for those wishing to publish OER works is available through Pacific University Press, a division of Pacific University Libraries. The OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians is a guide writ large for those wishing to engage in OER.


This guide was created by Janet Swatscheno, who is currently the Digital Publishing Librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago Library. Janet wrote: I am grateful to all those who helped me create this resource. I am especially thankful to the librarians who agreed to be interviewed and provided valuable insight into how they have promoted open access content. The librarians who helped me create this guide include Karen Lauritsen and Sarah Cohen from the Open Textbook Network, Jon Warren from the Mason Publishing Group, Anita Walz at Virginia Tech, and Karen Bjork at Portland State University. I would also like to thank Nicole Allen from SPARC and Tanya Spilovoy from WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies for creating and teaching the leadership course as well as Sarah Evelyn from Brown University for mentoring me throughout the capstone project. Finally, I am grateful to my supervisor Harriett Green (currently an AUL at the University of Washington, St. Loius) and the University of Illinois Library for allowing me to take advantage of this professional development opportunity.

About this Guide

This guide was created as a capstone project for the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program. In many ways, it is an extension of the BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide chapter on Communications and is meant to be a more in-depth exploration of how librarians, publishers, and authors can get the word out about a new OER.

Intended Audience

The intended audience for this guide is college and university library publishers or other library units that are publishing open educational resources and open textbooks. It may also prove useful to authors of open resources who are self-publishing their work or other campus units that are supporting OER publishing.

Expert Opinions

Open access publishing is still a relatively new activity for libraries. For this guide, I (Janet Swatscheno) contacted a number of librarians who have been involved in publishing open educational resources for a long time to get a better understanding of how they promoted the work they published. I interviewed Anita Walz, Open Education, Copyright & Scholarly Communications Librarian at Virginia Tech, Sarah Cohen, Managing Director of the Open Textbook Network, Karen Lauritsen, Director with the Open Textbook Network, John Warren, Director of Mason Publishing, and Karen Bjork, Head of Digital Initiatives at Portland State University Library. Their insight informed the overall creation of this resource and their salient quotes are presented throughout the guide.

Scholarly Communication and Publishing