Published In

Reference Services Review

Document Type


Publication Date



Academic library research, Librarians, Libraries & schools, Massive open online courses, Higher education


Purpose – The article aims to report on the current development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), explore the strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs, and reflect on the possible relationships between academic libraries and MOOCs.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on a mix of literature review (mostly current news) and personal observations. The author discusses the unique characteristics of MOOCs, speculates on the benefits of MOOCs on higher education, and explores the impact of MOOCs on academic libraries and how librarians can respond to it.

Findings – MOOCs create global learning communities that benefit both students and universities, and generate unique challenges and opportunities for academic libraries. It is recommended that librarians stay informed of the latest developments and get involved in the MOOC movement on an institutional as well as personal level.

Research limitations/implications – Further research needs to be done to evaluate the efficacy of MOOCs (especially in the non‐STEM areas), to explore best practices in instruction design and pedagogy, and to rethink on strategic positioning of traditional universities vis‐à‐vis MOOCs.

Practical implications – The author speculates on a possible “iTunization of information” and how that might impact academic libraries as well as the open access movement. The author also calls for academic libraries to be fully engaged in the discussion and action on their own campus related to MOOCs, and to support individual librarians' exploration of MOOCs.

Originality/value – This article is based on the author's personal experience as a MOOC student and her opinions and speculations on issues related to MOOCs. The article also explores the relationship between MOOCs and academic libraries, which has not been extensively discussed in the library literature.


© 2013 Emerald Group Publishing.


This is the author accepted manuscript.

Permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Locate the Document

Final definitive version is available here:



Persistent Identifier



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.