OER Commons Collection Policy


First published on 3/22/2024

Last updated on 6/13/2024


Section 1. Mission & Policy Origin

ISKME & OER Commons Mission Statement

As an undertaking of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), OER Commons’ values and priorities – and the policies shaped by them – are informed by those of its parent organization:

ISKME is an independent, education nonprofit whose mission is to make learning and knowledge sharing more participatory, equitable, and open. ISKME believes that the development of equitable and inclusive learning environments will contribute to the creation of a more just society.

http://iskme.org - About Us


In this context, OER Commons is both an expression of ISKME’s values and a means for achieving its mission. This dual nature is reflected in OER Commons’ own mission:

OER Commons fosters equitable and inclusive learning environments that support more just societies around the world. It does so by providing a platform that allows anyone to find, create, use and share high-quality, freely-available open educational resources.


OER Commons Mission Statement

Policy Origin

The following documents helped shape and guide the creation of this policy.


ALA Selection and Reconsideration Policy Toolkit

The American Library Association’s (ALA) selection and reconsideration policy toolkit was utilized in preparing this document to help ensure that the resources on OER Commons are collected and curated thoughtfully and sustainably.


Every library — academic, public, and school (public, private, charter, independent, and international) — should have a comprehensive written policy that guides the selection, deselection or weeding, and reconsideration of library resources. The most valuable selection policy is current; it is reviewed and revised on a regular basis; and it is familiar to all members of a library’s staff. The policy should be approved by the library’s governing board or other policy-making body and disseminated widely for understanding by all stakeholders.

ALA Selection and Reconsideration policy toolkit


As a digital library, OER Commons shares significant overlap in function with a traditional library:

  • It is made up of resources that have been collected and curated, keeping in mind the needs of the world’s teaching and learning communities;

  • Its collection actively evolves and adapts to match the changing landscape of information needs, practices, and methods;

  • It exists to put users into meaningful contact with the information its resources contain;

  • It is oriented toward the public good.

OER Commons also benefits from several librarians on ISKME’s staff performing the duties of their profession: collection development, reference, metadata, systems and research services, to name a few. As such, a robust collection development policy ensures that its staff and users have a shared understanding of what to expect from the materials contained in its collection.

OER Commons Submission Guidelines

The creation of this policy was also informed by OER Commons’ Submission Guidelines, which encapsulates the considerations that help users determine whether the resource they would like to add to OER Commons is a suitable match. With this new collection policy coming in place, the submission guidelines will likely be revisited and adjusted to ensure alignment and effectiveness.

Section 2. Scope and Objectives


This policy applies to OER Commons, the digital library that exists at https://oercommons.org, inclusive of all collections, groups, and hubs that exist within it. It does not apply to other microsites that use the OER Commons platform.


As OER Commons’ selection policy reflects and support’s ISKME’s work, OER Commons’ collection is created to:

  • Support educators and learners across levels and disciplines in finding the right resource at the right time

  • Make learning and knowledge sharing more participatory, equitable, and open in pursuit of a more just society

  • Foster the growth and development of a robust OER landscape by providing the tools needed to create and share OER in a variety of formats.

Striving Toward a Commons

OER Commons is guided by the idea that enabling community participation is the backbone of a strong digital commons. By combining contributions from the community with curation and development expertise of librarians, the library ensures that the collection’s resources and metadata support educators and learners. Its collection is dynamic rather than static, reflecting and maintaining space for changes in best practices, knowledge, and cultural norms over time.

Section 3. Material Selection

Anyone with an active internet connection can use OER Commons to find OER for free without needing to register for an account. Users who are interested in contributing to OER Commons may choose to create an account, which is free. ISKME’s Library Services staff are responsible for resource selection and are qualified by education, training, and experience to select materials in all formats. ISKME’s Head of Library Services is ultimately responsible for selection and collection management decisions.

Selection Criteria

Resources are reviewed and selected for inclusion on OER Commons based on how they align with the following three criteria: Educational use, Openness, and Quality.

Educational Use

Resources included on OER Commons should be written or designed primarily for use in educational contexts. Resources should:

  • Support and enrich curriculum and learning by their design. A resource designed for an educational context falls into one or more of the following categories:

    • Curriculum/Instruction: These resources are used in a formal educational context that includes an instructor and a learner.

    • Assessment: These resources are used to evaluate and measure a learner's understanding, skills, and knowledge in a given subject area.

    • Professional Development: These resources are used by an individual to improve the skills and knowledge requisite to their profession.

    • Informal Education: These resources are used to pursue self-directed learning, by individuals outside of a more formal/supervised learning context like a classroom or online course.

Note: The categories of materials that OER Commons accepts can be found here.

  • Align to the subject area and level of study of the intended user. The metadata of a resource should reflect as accurately as possible the content of the resource described. Staff librarians review user-submitted resources and may change the metadata to better describe submitted resources.


OER Commons operates within – and exists to support – the wider landscape of the Open Education movement. Resources should therefore be:

  • Licensed to allow use/reuse by teachers and learners. This includes but is not limited to existing in the public domain, having Creative Commons or other open license, or expressly permitting sharing and reusing for educational purposes in a resource’s terms of use or copyright statement.

  • Freely accessible with minimal barriers. This means that a resource’s users must not be required to pay to access or use the resource. This also means that requiring users to provide personal information, creating an account to access, or other “freemium” practices where the user pays for access with their own personal information is prohibited. This also excludes resources that are provided as “free samples” of otherwise paid services or platforms.

  • Attributed to the works from which they derive. Resources should include references to other works upon which they are based in order to respect the summative work of others and avoid copyright infringement or plagiarism.


In order to help promote broad access and use of open educational resources, OER Commons expects resources to meet certain standards of quality. While not every resource has to match each criterion perfectly, the quality of OER Commons’ collection is evaluated both at an individual resource level as well as in aggregate.

ISKME uses the following criteria to determine resource and collection quality:

  • Factuality: Resources should incorporate accurate and authentic factual content from authoritative sources, and should be verifiable.

  • Honesty: Resources should represent differing viewpoints on controversial issues in a way that does not intentionally misrepresent opposing viewpoints

  • Timeliness: Resources should contain information that reflects the most recent understanding of a subject or discipline. Resources also be relevant to current and potential scholarly/curriculum needs, including "standard or important works in a field"

  • Authority: Where available, resources should be favorably reviewed in standard reviewing sources and/or favorable recommendations based on preview and examination of materials by professional personnel.

  • Inclusivity: Resources should provide a global perspective and reflect the diversity of learners by including materials written by and representing the many cultures and backgrounds worldwide.

  • Accessibility: Resources should exist in a format that is compatible with current technology formatting standards, and incorporate accessible formatting and standards (see e.g. The a11y Project, w3c Accessibility Guidelines).

  • Design Quality: Submitted resources should be at or near final-draft quality. This includes:

    • Free of typographical errors, broken links/images, and other issues that would be found and fixed in copyediting

    • Consistent formatting practices

    • Adherence to modern design and technology standards to facilitate a learner’s ability to access and engage with the resource’s content

  • Portability: Resources should be provided in a variety of formats wherever possible so that users with diverse levels of access to technology can access them. Preferred resource formats are ones that can be accessed without requiring the use of closed-source, proprietary, or paid tools/software/systems. When designed with remixing in mind, resources should be provided in formats that facilitate that. For example:

    • Include links to modifiable formats (.docx, .odf, or links to drafts in Google Docs), when adding documents in PDF format.

    • Include links to video files when embedding a video in a resource.

    • Include high-resolution images when sharing a document that contains imagery.

Accession Procedures

Resources that are selected based on the criteria above can be accessioned (added) into OER Commons’ collection in two ways: through user submission and through staff selection.

User submitted resources

Anyone with an account on OER Commons may submit a resource for consideration, either by providing a link to its location online or by authoring it on the OpenAuthor platform. In either case, users submit the resource and selected metadata to help staff determine suitability. ISKME staff review submitted resources and their corresponding metadata, approve or reject the submissions, and enhance resource metadata where appropriate.

Staff-driven acquisitions

Item selection is done by professional librarians (selectors) with support from the ISKME staff and partners. Selectors may work with other ISKME staff and partners to identify material and make acquisitions decisions that best meet their needs. Where possible, staff will use metadata created by resource authors, or by partners or trusted authorities that have already created the metadata.

Selecting Controversial Materials

Given that users of OER Commons come from many backgrounds, cultures, and levels of knowledge, its collection contains educational resources covering a wide variety of subjects and education levels written from and for diverse points of view. When determining whether or not to select materials for inclusion in the collection, ISKME’s staff take a variety of factors into account, including:

  • the criteria outlined in this collection policy

  • ISKME’s mission and organization values

  • the selector’s best judgment.

Whether or not a resource that is perceived as controversial or divisive is included or excluded from the collection, the decision should be considered based on the factors above. ISKME’s Head of Library Services is ultimately responsible for selection and collection management decisions.

Users with concerns regarding materials found in OER Commons can submit a request to have the item reconsidered as outlined in the section below, "Requests for Reconsideration."

Section 4. Collection Maintenance and Weeding

ISKME’s Library Services team performs collection maintenance on an ongoing basis. This ensures that OER Commons resources remain timely, relevant, accessible, and in alignment with our library's mission. The deaccession (removal, also known as “weeding”) of materials is guided by a set of clear criteria outlined in our "Selection Criteria" section, as well as other applicable sections of our collection policy.

It is important to note that the initial acceptance of a resource into our collection does not guarantee its perpetual inclusion. Our collection is dynamic, and resources may be removed as our collection evolves and as the needs of our users change. Additionally, in keeping with the evolving nature of digital resources, any material whose internet location changes or becomes unavailable, or whose format becomes obsolete will be subject to automatic deaccession. This policy reflects our commitment to providing a current, reliable, and high-quality collection that meets the diverse needs of our community.

ISKME staff may, at their discretion, attempt to relocate a resource and update its record on OER Commons when it is discovered that the resource’s URL has changed, but it is the responsibility of the resource’s provider to ensure that a resource’s location on OER Commons, as well as the contents of the resource itself, are up to date.

Materials that are added to OER Commons that are found to be spam upon review are subject to automatic removal, and the accounts from which these items were added will be removed.

ISKME’s Head of Library Services is ultimately responsible for selection and collection management decisions.

Section 5. Curation Policy

One of the hallmarks of a healthy library collection is intentional curation of the resources it contains. Curating resources means grouping, organizing, or presenting sets of resources with intention. This intent could be (but is not limited to) highlighting a particular topic or theme, organizing resources to facilitate an activity, or putting a particular audience into more easy contact with the resources that suit their needs.

In order to help support the discovery and usage of OER by the public, ISKME staff, its partners, and its users may curate resources into collections, hubs, and groups. Resources curated into these categories remain visible to the public however, and as such are required to adhere with the guidelines of this collection policy.

Users or organizations interested in using the OER Commons platform with their own collection policy are encouraged to contact ISKME’s Vice President of Services for more information about services and solutions tailored to their specific needs.

Section 6. Requests for Reconsideration

Materials in OER Commons are selected in line with its mission statement and objectives. A person who wishes to request the reconsideration of library material must file a formal written request for reconsideration using the library-provided form linked below. The request will be reviewed by the Library Services team, ISKME’s Vice President of Services, and other staff members as appropriate. Together, they will develop a recommendation that will be submitted to the Head of Library Services. The Head of Library Services is responsible for making the final decision and for notifying the person who submits the request with their decision.

Reconsideration Guiding Principles

The following principles have been adapted from the American Library Association’s Guiding Principles for Reconsideration (as of 5 February 2024):

  • Libraries have diverse materials reflecting differing points of view, and a library’s mission is to provide access to information to all users.

  • Any person has the right to express concerns in good faith about library resources and expect to have the objection taken seriously.

  • When library resources are reconsidered, the principles of the freedom to read, listen, and view are defended rather than specific materials.

  • A questioned item will be considered in its entirety, not judged solely on portions taken out of context.

  • Questioned items will remain in circulation during the reconsideration process.

  • The reconsideration process should be completed in its entirety and not subverted or ended prematurely.

Process for reconsideration

When a request for reconsideration of a resource is received by an employee of ISKME, it should be passed to a member of ISKME’s Library Services team, who will start the following process:

  1. The staff member will acknowledge incoming reconsideration requests, direct the requester to the OER Commons Collection Policy, and let them know that there is a formal procedure for reconsidering an item.

  2. If after the requestor receives the response, they indicate that they would like to submit a formal request, they will be provided the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form.

  3. If the requestor completes and submits the form, it will be sent to ISKME’s Head of Library Services for review. The Head of Library Services will review the request and the item, and contact V.P. of Services and at least one other librarian at ISKME to discuss the request and possible courses of action.

  4. Once a decision is made, the Head of Library Services will contact the requestor within 30 days informing them of the decision.

Abuse of the Reconsideration Process

The Head of Library Services reserves the option to forgo the reconsideration process with a requester if they find that the requester is abusing the process to restrict others’ access to the collection, harass ISKME staff or others, or otherwise obstruct or interfere with OER Commons/ISKME operations. Abuse of the reconsideration process includes but is not limited to submitting repeated requests of the same material, providing false or insufficient information in their request for reconsideration, using the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form outside of its intended purpose, etc…

In these cases, the Head of Library Services will inform ISKME’s Vice President of Services of their decision and note the instance for future reference.

Annual review

Once a year, the Head of Library Services will report to ISKME’s Vice President of Services on the number and disposition of requests made over the past year. Requests will be kept for a minimum of five years.

Section 7. Policy Revision

As with OER Commons’ collection, its collection policy will be reviewed at least once a year to ensure that it is relevant to the needs of ISKME staff, partners, and users in an information landscape that is constantly changing.

As changes are made to this policy, the dates of the changes and brief summaries will be provided in Addendum A.