MOOCs and Libraries, Part II

A few weeks ago, Michael Shochet contributed a post on libraries in the world of MOOCs (massively open online courses). Last week Jennifer Howard wrote an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog reporting on a recent conference of librarians discussing the implications for academic libraries as MOOCs develop and grow on college campuses. 

Howard’s first point addressed implications for library reference and research services. Because more than 60% of MOOC participants reside outside of North America (Howard, 2013), reference librarians should be prepared for more questions from international users in various languages. They can also expect off -hours chat reference services to increase as users will be in all time zones and contacting librarians around the clock.

Secondly, librarians will be faced with increased demand for materials and may have significant issues with electronic journal and database subscription costs. Publishers and vendors typically charge libraries for electronic access by student enrollment or full-time equivalencies (FTEs). Depending on how MOOC enrollment is “counted” by the university, annual subscription costs could skyrocket for libraries. Librarians need to be in the forefront of conversations on their campuses about MOOCs as they evaluate enrollment plans and in discussions with vendors to explore different pricing models.

Campus planning for MOOCs can bring longtime issues about electronic access and scholarly publication pricing to the attention of faculty and administrators. Librarians should jump into MOOCs, exploring courses and considering how they might realign services and resources in the face of this brave new world.

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