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School Librarians as OER Curators: A Framework to Guide Practice: OER Curation Process Steps

Module 3

OER Curation Process Steps

More than merely collecting content on a specific subject, strong curation involves carefully selecting content and evaluating it for a specific purpose. When OER are part of the curation process, content deemed useful during the evaluation process can then be customized by the curator, and re-shared for future users. The OER curation process steps below outline these practices; although they are numbered, they are not considered linear or sequential.

Process Steps

1. Collaboratively Identify Curriculum Needs & OER Entry Points

In this step of the process, the School librarian (SL) works with targeted stakeholders—including students, teachers, and/or curriculum specialists—to identify curriculum gaps and needs that their curation work can support. Below are two resources to support SLs in this step of the process.


Resource to Support this Step: Determining Your Entry Points Into OER

Below are three example scenarios, outlining potential factors that may influence a school librarian’s OER curation efforts, and possible entry points for each. In reality, school librarians may experience aspects of all of the scenarios depicted; they are thus not mutually exclusive.


Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

You have...

·       Unspecified time and support for collaboration

·       A very full schedule

·       Close supervision from  the district office on the curriculum that is taught  in the classroom

·       Collaboration is encouraged, but no formal structures to support it exist

·       A very full schedule, but a library aide helps free up time for your curatorial work

·       In some content areas, educators have agency to select curriculum, while in others, there is less freedom

·       Classroom teachers and library staff are expected to attend curriculum meetings across roles, grades and subject areas

·       Digital curation and instructional leadership are a formal part of your role description

·       Educators have full agency to select and determine curriculum materials for their classrooms

Example entry points...

Try to have several brief chats with teachers to identify curriculum needs

Create a short Google  form that teachers can complete to gather data on their needs

Attend teacher meetings and join PLCs to  discuss and capture curriculum needs

Resource to Support this Step: Initiating Conversations About OER 
Initiate discussions with administrators

  • Find out if initiatives are underway in your state or district to replace all or parts of your core curriculum with open materials. E.g., visit to determine if your district or state is part of the #GoOpen movement
  • If OER initiatives are already underway in your context, ask how you can support the work
  • If OER initiatives are not currently underway, contact your district’s curriculum specialists to discuss content gaps, or initiate conversations by sharing OER curation exemplars that you have completed, or examples of classroom teachers or projects where OER is already being used as part of instruction

Initiate discussions with classroom teachers

  • Email or meet with teachers to capture the topics they plan to cover
  • Review district-level curriculum maps together with teachers
  • Find out when teachers are meeting to discuss curriculum, and try to sit in on those meetings
  • If opportunities allow, observe classroom instruction to help identify curriculum needs
  • Promote your curation work to teachers through, e.g., newsletters, talks, and trainings
  • Explore mentorships to support first year teachers in resource sharing, selection, and use
  • Try starting with one resource for a teacher to work with, and provide supports along the way

Articulate your own and other's contributions to OER

Articulate what school librarians bring 

  • Knowledge of how to find resources and to make things discoverable by others
  • Knowledge of how to select the best types and formats of resources
  • Expertise in technology for digital curation
  • Understanding of copyright and its pitfalls, and the benefits of open licenses
  • Instructional leadership, for example design expertise

Articulate what classroom teachers bring 

  • Knowledge of course and learning objectives
  • Understanding of student needs and learning styles
  • Knowledge of current resource gaps based on local and district learning requirements
  • Preferences for the type of resources required to meet identified curriculum gaps
  • Experience in developing instructional materials
  • Expertise in various pedagogical approaches and in curriculum implementation

Articulate what students bring 

  • Preferences for the types and formats of resources that work best for them
  • Preferences for how they would like to access resources
  • Opinions on the quality or effectiveness of resources for their own learning
  • Opinions on the types of resources and information to be prioritized/included

"Articulating Your Own and Other's Contributions to OER" is a derivative of What Students, Faculty, and Library Staff Bring to OER, developed by Ontario Colleges Library Service and ISKME,  originally licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0, and reused under CC BY 4.0 with permission from Ontario Colleges Library Service.

2. Agree on Curriculum Frameworks and Curation Goals 

In this step, the School Librarian (SL) works with curation collaborators to identify the curriculum frameworks and learning objectives that will guide the curation effort. SL defines curation outputs in terms of the possible types and scope of resources to be included.



Resource to Support this Step: Example Graphic Organizer to Guide Curation Goals

The graphic organizer below was built using Larry Ainsworth’s method of “unwrapping” priority standards. The table shows the concepts and skills that are to be taught in a health unit on tobacco use and addiction, and a school librarian’s notes on how to map curation goals and starting points to each learning outcome listed.

Unwrapped Concepts (nouns)

Unwrapped Skills (verbs)

Level of Taxonomy

Level of Taxonomy
Webb's Depth of  Knowledge

School Librarian Curation Notes/Goals

Information and services regarding tobacco use, prevention and cessation


Level 3 Application

Level 2 Conceptual Understanding

Identify seed content for learners as a starting point. NIH and NIDA has tobacco use stats and reports that are in the public domain; see what’s available on adolescent tobacco use trends and addiction.

Validity of resources


Level 4 Analysis

Level 3
Strategic Thinking/Reasoning

Look for adaptable, openly licensed rubric or checklist  to help learners assess validity of the resources they find.

Financial, political, social and legal influences regarding tobacco


Level 3 Analysis

Level 3 Strategic Thinking/Reasoning

Health cost trends for tobacco related diseases is a good place to start for this learning outcome. Look for open databases or information that tracks tobacco policy in the US and abroad.

Internal and external pressures to use tobacco


Level 6 Synthesis

Level 4
Extended Thinking

Look for openly licensed or public domain research articles, reports and data on adolescent brain development, and studies examining social and peer pressure surrounding tobacco use. Try PLOS for research articles/data

Ways schools and communities can promote a tobacco free environment


Level 6 Synthesis

Level 4
Extended Thinking

See what’s available in OER Commons on student advocacy. Look for guidelines that help  learners develop advocacy strategies for their synthesized information

3. Search 

Here, the School Librarian searches in dedicated OER repositories and collections, or uses search tools that allow for searching by type of open license. The SL builds searches around keywords and material types, such as “videos on substitution reactions”.  


Resource to Support this Step: Finding OER — Places to Start

There are a multitude of OER available online to choose from, including full textbooks and courses, lessons and units, multimedia resources, and data. These can be found through a search of  popular search engines like Google, though it is easier to search and discover them through dedicated OER repositories or libraries. Below is a sampling of such repositories and libraries.

Aggregated OER Collections

  • Hippo Campus - Multimedia content on general education subjects for middle-school and high-school teachers and their students.
  • Khan Academy - Short lessons in the form of YouTube videos and practice exercises.           
  • OER Commons - A public library of OER with tools for content authoring & remixing. Also provides  collaborative workspaces for creating, curating, and discussing OER.

Open Media Collections

Open Data Collections

  • - Comprises U.S. federal data with links to U.S. states, cities and counties with web sites that provide open data. Note that non-federal data available through may have different licensing than open licensing.         
  • World Bank Open Data - Global development data that is free and openly licensed.  
  • PLOS - Science and medicine research articles with images, figures, tables and graphs, all licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license that allows for adaptations and derivatives.

Open Textbooks                                                                       

  • CK-12 - Standards-aligned open textbooks in the STEM subject for K-12 students.                              
  • OpenStax Textbooks - AP-level open textbooks spanning multiple subjects that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators.

Open Lessons and Units

4. Evaluate for Use and Select

In this step, the SL evaluates use permissions, with a preference for public domain or openly licensed materials that are free to use, adapt, and reshare. SL also uses local collection policies or field-tested rubrics to assess the resources for inclusion, including criteria focused on editorial quality, value and relevance. Use the checklist below to support this step.


Resource to Support this Step: OER Harvesting Checklist 

Most school librarians follow local or district-level criteria to guide their selection of resources, which often address the resource’s trustworthiness, accuracy, timeliness, and appropriateness.  When OER are part of the curation process, these local criteria are equally relevant. However, additional criteria also come into play that are unique to OER, including those listed below.

The resource is in the public domain or is openly licensed.    

  There is a statement indicating that the work is in the public domain, or

  The resource is a U.S. federal government work prepared by an officer or employee as part of that person's official duties, and is thus free to use without restrictions, or

    There is a symbol or statement that indicates it is licensed under one of the six Creative Commons (CC) licenses, or

    If there is no Creative Commons or other open license listed, there is a clear statement (for example, on the terms of use page) that the resource may be used and adapted.

The format of the resource supports adaptations.The format of the resource supports adaptations.

    The resource is offered in an editable format, such as .docx or Google Doc (as opposed to PDF or other static formats)          

    The resource is modular and can be broken down into distinct pieces for remixing purposes

The resource is reusable in new contexts.

    The resource has been aligned to learning standards that are relevant and applicable to your context

    The format of the resource supports reuse and adaptation (see above)

    User reviews or other metadata about the resource indicate how the resource was used by others, or user satisfaction with the resource

    There are multiple versions of the resource available in the repository or collection, due to adaptations and re-sharing of the resource by prior users

5. Build and Align 

SL organizes the curated resources into, e.g., a playlist, an annotated collection, a student assignment, or an instructional unit. SL evaluates and builds the curation output in alignment with learning standards. SL also evaluates and builds the output using equity, inclusion, and accessibility rubrics.

6. Share 

SL selects or confirms the appropriate open license for the resource(s), and shares them through existing school and district channels, and where feasible, in state and national OER repositories for use by future educators.


Resource to Support this Step: Determining Where and How To Share

There are many ways to share the outputs of your OER curation practice. Below is a flowchart to help you determine where and how to share the OER that you curate and create. 



7. Pilot and Refine 

SL emphasizes the importance of feedback from teachers and/or students on curation outputs, and where feasible, pilots the resources with a selection of teachers and/or learners to gather feedback to inform refinement. SL re-shares the refined resources in local and/or public channels.



Resource to Support this Step:  Example Pilot Protocol

Gathering feedback from teachers and learners on curation outputs allows school librarians to continuously adapt, refine, and better localize their curated collections and materials. Piloting curation projects with teachers, and using a simple post-pilot feedback form like the one below, is one approach that can be used—if time and context allow. The protocol below was originally created for social studies lessons that were curated and compiled by Morgen Larsen, Teacher Librarian, and Leslie Heffernan, Social Studies Coordinator, at the Central Valley School District in  Washington. It is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International License.

Did you modify or omit portions of the lesson? If yes, please explain.

Yes     No

Did you incorporate different or additional instructional resources to teach this lesson?  If so, please provide the names, hyperlinks, or copies of these resources.

Yes     No

What was the level of student engagement?

Lowest-1      2      3     4     5     6     7     8      9    10-Highest

What went well with this lesson?


What needs to be improved?


What were your students’ takeaways from this lesson?  What did they notice?  What did they wonder about?  Did you create an anchor chart to track these student insights?


How can this lesson help support English Language Arts Common Core State Standards?


How long did it take you to teach the lesson?