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Open-Textbook Resources

A. Introduction
1. What is the Open Textbook Network?

The Open Textbook movement focuses on the creation of books that are built specifically for use as free or low-cost options for education.  Many of the collections will have links to the same books, but each repository has a particular focus, and items you can't find in other collections.

What makes a textbook open?

A textbook becomes "open" when its copyright-holder grants usage rights to the public through an "open license," which typically includes the right to access, reformat, and customize it at no additional cost.

What do open textbooks look like?

Hard copies of open textbooks look much like traditional texts.  The primary differences are that open textbooks are also accessible online at no cost and the hard copies are optional and affordably priced.

How many open textbooks are there?

Thousands of open textbooks already exist and more are on the way.

Who pays open textbook authors?

Open publishing models are still evolving, so author payment varies.  Some are paid royalties on print sales, some receive grant support, and others choose to write on their own time.

Are open textbooks high quality?

Many open textbooks are developed through traditional peer review, others are vetted by experts.  As with any textbook, you are the final judge of whether an open textbook meets the needs of your course.


What do open textbooks look like?

Open textbooks are similar to traditional texts, but much more flexible.  If desired, you can create a custom version by editing it yourself to match your classroom instruction.  They are available in both print and digital formats:

  • Online, at no cost.

  • Downloadable PDF, at no cost.


2.Adopting Open-Textbook Network / OER Resources Into a Class

Adopting OER or an Open Textbook for your course can be approached in a number of different ways. However there is a basic process that can serve as a guide as you get started. (To download or print this process as a worksheet, here is a Google Doc you can use.)

1. Define your need: Do you want to piece together a variety of resources, or find a whole textbook replacement? Using a backwards design approach and working from your course learning objectives can be a great way to keep your search organized and on track.

2. Search: This step is often messy and may feel never-ending! However it is the nature of the process that different resources search differently, are indexed differently, and index different content. So try several different sources (we have many indexed under the "Finding OER" tab), and keep track of the search terms you've tried and the sites you've searched. **Also, don't forget to consult your discipline colleagues.

3. Identify & Evaluate: There are many considerations when evaluating OER, some the same as where adopting a traditional textbook, some unique to OER.

  • Peer review of material available

  • Reputation of author or institution

  • Pedagogical approach

  • Accuracy of content

  • Alignment with course objectives or learning outcomes

  • Appropriate reading level (see

  • Technical quality (clear visuals, production value)

  • Clear licensing declaration: Creative Commons license, public domain, or your own fair use determination for copyrighted works. **This might be a good time to create an attribution statement as your decide on resources you know you'll want to use. Try this attribution builder from Open Washington.**

4. Adoption: There are often multiple stakeholders in your choice of course materials, including your discipline colleagues, your dean, and the bookstore. In fact, this could be step one, because these are the same people who could potentially be great allies in your changeover to open resources.

5. Use: How will students access and use these resources? Will you post a link to these materials? Will students need paper copies, such as for a lab book or readings to be used in class? There are many options for having materials printed, and because of the open licensing of OER, a whole book can be printed for students at a very low cost. 

Additional resources for new OER adopters:

  • Blended Learning Toolkit

    This site helps you organize learning objectives, resources and assignments for your course. Great downloadable forms and worksheets.

  • Adopting Open Educational Resources in the Classroom

    A faculty resource for adopting, using and re-purposing openly licensed educational resources. This course provides faculty with an introduction to the laws that influence the use, re-use, and distribution of content they may want to use in a course. Activities include finding openly licensed content for use in a class and publishing openly licensed works created by faculty. At the end of the course, students will have openly licensed content that will be ready for use in a course.

  • How to Use Open Educational Resources: a self-paced workshop

    "This course walks you through techniques to incorporate Open Educational Resources (OER) into your teaching practice. The course will cover the fundamental aspects of OER including open licensing and public domain. It focuses on providing practical guidance in locating and applying openly available resources."


    All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is not necessary to seek permission to reuse the content, although – per the terms of the license – attribution is required.

    Attribution: "Content from Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404"

    All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.

  • Creative Commons License

B. Open Textbook Collections

Faculty are invited to consider the open-source textbook collections presented below.

  • Open Textbook Library ( – OTL, with over 350 books, is a clearinghouse of links to books in various locations, including OpenStax, Saylor and others. Books in the OTL have been peer reviewed for quality, and the Open Textbook Library has multiple criteria for inclusion in the Library.

  • OpenStax ( – These books were developed following traditional textbook publishing methods, including peer review, editorial support, and creation of ancillary content. Books are available in multiple formats (PDF, print on demand, on the Web) and are licensed to be revised and remixed by faculty who want create a custom solution for a course.

    • Note: Several faculty members at OU have adopted or adapted OpenStax books, including Dean Kelly Damphousse, Glen Kurtz, Heather Ketchum, and others.

  • BC Campus OpenEd ( – This site includes texts written specifically for the BC OpenTextbook initiative, as well as books from other sources.

  • Lumen Learning ( – Lumen provides open courses in a variety of high-demand subjects and disciplines. These courses are collections of high-quality OER, not necessarily as a traditional textbook.  You can use them as-is or modify them to fit your instructional style and students’ needs.

  • HathiTrust ( – HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. HathiTrust materials can be searched through the OU Libraries.  

  • The Directory of OpenAccess Books ( – This site is a clearinghouse of links to books hosted in various locations, and includes a large selection of international textbooks.

  • Bookshelf ( – This collection includes books written specifically for as well as the original editions of the FlatWorldKnowledge textbooks (subsequent editions are only offered for purchase). You can view all their resources by subject area in their library

  • Open Access Publishing in European Networks ( – The OAPEN Library contains freely accessible academic books, mainly in the area of Humanities and Social Sciences.  OAPEN has books in multiple languages and covering a large variety of topics. There is a range of licensing for the books, but each books is clearly marked with the license.

  • Project Gutenberg ( – A volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works. Most items in this collection are digitized works from the public domain, making it a rich source for those in the Humanities

  • The National Academies Press ( – Unlike some of the open textbook initiatives these books are publicly available but not openly licensed.  You can link to the content, and even link directly to specific pages.  However, you cannot remix and redistribute the content.

  • Boundless - Affordable textbooks curated from online content.

  • Connexions -Supported by the Hewlett Foundation, Gates Foundation, Rice University, and others.

  • Flat World - "100+ textbooks written by the industry's top authors."

  • NCBI Bookshelf Books in life science and health care from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.


    Tutorials, labs, text and multimedia materials and courseware which has been peer-reviewed

  • OPEN: Open Professionals Education Network - Find OER

    Lists various searchable resources which contain OER including: General Education Search; Recorded Lectures & Video Tutorials Search; Open Textbook Search; Simulation and Animation Search; Modular Course Components Search
    Complete Courses Search. Resources include: General Search
    Photo/Image Search; Video Search; Audio/Music Search

  • OpenStax College

    A new project from Rice University's Connexions project, this site offers a growing body of open-source and free peer-reviewed textbooks for popular college courses in the sciences, math, and social sciences particularly. "Our free textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of your course."

  • Orange Grove: Florida's Digital Repository

    Collection of open textbooks, web-books, and Orange Grove Text Plus resources from this Florida repository

  • PhET

    Interactive simulations of physical phenomena from U. of Colorado at Boulder. Focus is on science, math, and computer science. Simulations are extensively tested.

  • USG Share

    From University System of Georgia's Digital Instructional Resources Exchange. Login as a guest.

  • Wisc-Online Great content for most Technical and Vocational programs (ex. Automotive, Welding, Cabinet Making, Electronics) plus Science, Math, Computer Science. Choose "Learning Objects" to find modules you can embed in your instructional tool. Create an account to make custom lists of favorites. Free for educational use. Content added constantly. From the Wisconsin Technical College System.


All original content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is not necessary to seek permission to reuse the content, although – per the terms of the license – attribution is required.

Attribution: "Content from University of Oklahoma Libraries."

All linked-to content adheres to its respective license.

Creative Commons License

C. Other Open Textbook Information

Tools for choosing open books for courses


Lists of discovery tools at other locations

More information

Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OERs

D. Articles about Open-Textbooks

Looking for Research?

We have worked to locate some articles that may help you better understand why Avila and the Library/Learning Commons are advocating for the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs), open textbooks, and the use of the Open Textbook Network and Library. 

New articles will be added periodically, so please check back!

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