2 Demonstrating the Impact of OER Work for Promotion to Full Librarian

Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey

Case study writer: Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey, Full Librarian

Institution: University of Arizona, Carnegie Classification: Doctoral Universities, Very High Research Activity

Type of intervention: As an academic librarian, OER was a unifying theme in position effectiveness, scholarship, and service in my successful dossier for promotion.


The University of Arizona (UA) was established in Tucson in 1885, before Arizona became a state. It is a public, land-grant university and a Hispanic-Serving Institution. As of fall 2022, student enrollment was more than 51,000 (10,727 are graduate students). I am the UA Libraries’ open education librarian and have been leading OER initiatives at the UA since 2014. Now in the scholarly communication unit of the Libraries’ Research Engagement Department, I am responsible for leading efforts to raise campus awareness of OER and increasing adoptions, adaptations, and creations; administering our Pressbooks publishing platform; building campus partnerships and supporting the UA BookStores’ Pay One Price program; and advancing Z-Degrees.

Librarians at the UA have faculty status and go through a continuing status and promotion (CS&P) process, which is parallel to promotion and tenure (P&T). Faculty rank progresses from assistant to associate to full. Early career librarians typically start at the assistant rank with continuing-eligible status. CS&P criteria for librarians are set by the University Handbook for Appointed Personnel (UHAP 4A.3) and the Library Faculty Assembly (LFA) Bylaws. “Continuing status requires excellent performance and the promise of continued excellence in the candidate’s assigned duties,” according to UHAP. LFA Bylaws call for evaluation of position effectiveness, scholarship, and service. Bylaws assign position effectiveness the most weight, although insufficient scholarship can lead to denial of CS&P. The UA’s Inclusive View of Scholarship allows flexibility in what “counts” for scholarship, and that definition continues to evolve.


Seeking promotion from associate to full librarian is optional at the UA. LFA Bylaws specify that promotion to full rank:

  • Requires outstanding performance in all aspects of assigned responsibilities as well as widely recognized achievements and contributions to the profession
  • Is not a reward for long service but a recognition of superior contributions with every expectation of continuing contributions at the highest level of professional standards

I submitted my dossier for promotion to full librarian in August 2021. As the Libraries’ Open Education Librarian, OER were pivotal to the various required elements of my dossier (see Promotion Dossier Templates), which included a pandemic impact statement, job descriptions, curriculum vitae (CV), candidate statement, representative work, and portfolio for Leadership, Service, or Innovation.

My aim was to weave together a cohesive story about my accomplishments and impact, using each required element of the dossier to tell a different aspect of the story. As I share sections of my candidate statement, I welcome you to use them for ideas and inspiration, but please note that reuse or remixing requires attribution under the terms of this book’s Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

My five-page candidate statement focused on OER as a common theme in my job performance, scholarship, and service. While the UA Libraries embrace a “commitment to open,” UA’s administration had not seen OER or course material affordability as a priority. I needed to convince the campus CS&P committee and the provost of the value of this work. “Customizable and free to use by anyone in the world, OER expand faculty’s academic freedom by widening course material options and fostering opportunities for active, collaborative learning,” I wrote in my introduction. “OER also support the University of Arizona’s (UA) land-grant mission of expanding educational access and publicly sharing expertise. My OER work supports UA’s commitments to student success, innovation, equity and inclusion, and global engagement in the campus strategic plan.”

My statement explained how OER librarianship is newly emerging and required extensive self-directed learning. “OER librarianship—leading campus-wide collaborations to reduce course material costs for students and facilitating faculty’s OER use and customization—is a relatively new specialty in academic libraries,” I wrote in the introduction. “I was among the first nationally to have the title Open Education Librarian. My journey is described in an invited case study (included in Section 4B [Representative Work]) for The OER Starter Kit for Program Managers.”

To start my statement off strong, my introduction also emphasized the potential savings for UA students: “During the years I have led course material initiatives for the UA Libraries, students have potentially saved an estimated $5.1 million as a direct result of my achievements and the partnerships I have built.” Quantifying cost savings can be challenging, since there are so many different ways to calculate potential savings. I recommend reading the “Calculating and Reporting Student Savings” chapter by Jeff Gallant in The OER Starter Kit for Program Managers. Gallant advises reporting conservatively and using caveats such as “potential savings.” In reporting estimated OER savings, the UA uses the Open Education Network’s calculation of $100 per book multiplied by student enrollment in the course. With our library-licensed e-books, estimated savings were based on student enrollment multiplied by the price of the textbook.

In the position effectiveness section of my candidate statement, I framed my OER work in terms of service to faculty and OER’s impact on student success, citing the 2018 University of Georgia study:

I am passionate about lowering the cost of course materials for students. During the UA’s 2021 Student Success Conference, Timothy Rennick (Executive Director of the National Institute for Student Success at Georgia State University) emphasized that seemingly small amounts of money can prevent degree completion. High textbook prices can pose real academic challenges for students. Many report not purchasing a required textbook (64.2%), taking fewer classes (42.8%), earning a poor grade (35.6%), or even failing a class (17.2%) due to textbook costs.[1]

By raising campus awareness of textbook affordability issues, and by helping faculty switch to free-to-use or low-cost alternatives, I expand students’ access to needed course materials and improve their odds of success. Free-to-use content can lower student debt and increase equity. When students have day-one access to free course materials, a large study found that outcomes improved for all students, but especially for Pell recipients, part-time students, and those from underrepresented groups.[2]

Beyond saving students money, OER allow perpetual access, customization, and opportunities for open pedagogy (involving students in the creation of OER). I have led the university’s OER initiatives since 2014. Through 2017, I did this work while also serving as a liaison librarian to the colleges of business and architecture.

Next, I explained the different strategies I used to build the Libraries’ OER program and the impacts I achieved:

Cultivating strong campus partnerships also has been key to both roles [liaison librarian and OER program manager]. Bringing together faculty, student government leaders, and campus stakeholders, I took the initiative in 2016 to create an OER Action Committee. I regularly share national OER news and campus OER achievements.…

Since 2018, I have overseen the library’s expansive Course Driven Acquisitions (CDA) program. Each semester, the library provides UA students with free ebook access to hundreds of required textbooks. I work closely with the UA BookStores and hundreds of faculty on this project. As a result of these collaborations, UA students consistently pay far less for course materials than the national average: In FY20, UA students paid an average of $253 vs. $413.[3] The partnership I have formed with our bookstore is truly a national model. In 2020, I worked with bookstore leaders on a Faculty Senate presentation about the collaboration benefits and why the bookstore shouldn’t be outsourced [PDF]. Faculty responded supportively, and the store remains campus-owned (which benefits students in many ways). “Congrats on making a compelling case that resonated with many Senators,” Dean of Libraries Shan Sutton said.

Managing CDA, I have leveraged my skills in communication and process improvement to increase ebook access for faculty and students. Notification of ebook availability is now sent to faculty weeks before classes start, rather than the day before the semester begins (by then, students often had purchased books already). I also took the initiative to add a Check for Ebook Availability form to the library website, which better enables us to proactively assist faculty in finding and adopting free-to-use course materials. Other web resources that I created and manage, such as my “OER Toolkit” and “Best Practices for Image Use” page, have been promoted online by leaders in the OER community.

In the next section, I summarized my work administering our Pressbooks publishing platform and leading OER learning communities:

Pressbooks, a user-friendly platform for publishing OER, was another opportunity I identified. The library and Digital Learning unit now partner on providing it to campus, and any UA student or staff member can create a project in Pressbooks. As of August 2021, the UA’s platform has more than 400 users and 110 projects. As the lead network manager, I collaborated with learning technologist Krys Ziska Strange to launch the platform in 2020. We also led beginning and advanced Pressbooks learning communities, which had an immediate impact. “Now Pressbooks is a very significant part of my teaching in Fall and the plan is way better than it would have been,” iSchool professor Diana Daly said after participating.

In 2020–21, I supported Daly and her large general education course as they worked on the Humans R Social Media textbook in Pressbooks. This OER project, featuring student-created media and essays, presents diverse viewpoints and firsthand accounts that are rare in commercial textbooks. It was the first book in UA’s Pressbooks Catalog and is a great example of open pedagogy. This project also demonstrates how my scholarship and service build upon functional work. During my Spring 2021 sabbatical, I researched the project’s impact on learning outcomes. A forthcoming publication (Open Pedagogy: Independence and Interdependence in Teaching About New Media) with survey results that support open pedagogy as a tool for student engagement, is in Section 4B [Representative Work].

In the scholarship section of my candidate statement, I explained that my scholarship is informed by my course material work. I also emphasized the importance of choosing to openly publish my scholarship: “Since becoming an Associate Librarian, I publish in open access journals and ebooks without a paywall barrier. I share my slide decks with an open license that enables free reuse and customization.”

At the UA, promotion and tenure criteria (and continuing status and promotion criteria) do not specifically mention OER or open access. But I made the case that the university’s “Inclusive View of Scholarship” encompasses an online curriculum I helped create and revise:

Other resources I have written fit into the category of Publicly Engaged Instruction in the UA’s “Inclusive View of Scholarship.” As an instructor for the national Certificate in OER Librarianship since 2018, I have been extensively involved in the planning, development, editing, and updating of online instruction modules. So far, the program has trained 151 librarians to lead OER programs (Section 7A [Portfolio for Leadership, Service, or Innovation: Assessment] explains more about its national impact). I had sole responsibility for creating the “Making It Real” module and contributed to other modules. I extensively reviewed and updated the 2020 and 2021 curricula, adding newly available material.

I began the service section of my self-reflection by emphasizing my involvement in the Open Education Network and explaining its importance in the OER movement:

At the national/international level, my most impactful service has been to the Open Education Network (OEN). I have been actively involved in the network since 2015, when I helped the UA become one of its first 10 members. Since then, the network has expanded internationally and now spans more than 1,560 colleges and universities. Its Open Textbook Library, which includes reviews by UA faculty from my OER workshops, currently features about 900 complete textbooks. In addition to being a founding Certificate instructor, I have exponentially expanded my impact by training new system/consortial members to lead OER workshops and course material initiatives. Using a train-the-trainer approach, we have been able to instruct up to 70 people at a time; participants then deliver trainings on their individual campuses.

I also addressed OER in other parts of my dossier:

  • My pandemic impact statement shared how we converted in-person instruction for the Certificate in OER Librarianship to online modules and webinars. I included the number of times the videos had been viewed on YouTube and emphasized that they remain publicly available as a resource.
  • My CV listed scholarship, service, continuing education, and grant proposals related to OER. I noted invited presentations, seen as a sign of national reputation.
  • The Portfolio for Leadership, Service, or Innovation: Assessment shared how we created and assessed the Certificate in OER Librarianship program. “Our eight-person instructional team spent more than 14 months developing the initial curriculum,” I wrote. “With the support of an instructional designer, we created online modules with readings, videos, discussion questions, self-quizzes, and activities. Some of my scholarship has been integrated into the curriculum as mandatory or optional readings.” I summarized the results of a participant survey.


In 2022, I was successfully awarded promotion to full librarian.


  • Assume that reviewers of your dossier are unfamiliar with OER, so briefly explain what OERs are and how they benefit students, instructors, your institution, and the world. Incorporate key phrases from your institution’s strategic plan, mission, core values, and/or similar documents, and emphasize how your OER work advanced these institutional priorities.
  • Demonstrate the impact of your work throughout your dossier. Use statistics such as usage or cost savings; quotes from faculty, staff, and students you have helped (I keep an email folder called “Nice Feedback”); and other qualitative and quantitative data. If your institution uses the Pressbooks publishing platform to produce and host OER, it provides good analytics on the number of visitors and total page views, most-viewed chapters, and where site traffic originates. Significant traffic from other .edu websites can indicate that other colleges and universities have adopted your Pressbooks publication.
  • In addition to the DOERS3 matrix for OER in Tenure and Promotion, check out the Iowa Open Education Action Team’s Open Education in Promotion, Tenure, and Faculty Development and Oregon’s adaptation of the DOERS3 matrix for advice and tips.

  1. Florida Virtual Campus. (2018). Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey.
  2. Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics [PDF]International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262–276.
  3. Statistics are from the National Association of College Stores.


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Valuing OER in the Tenure, Promotion, and Reappointment Process Copyright © 2024 by Cheryl (Cuillier) Casey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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