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Open Access & Open Educational Resources

This guide provides information about Open Educational Resources for professors, students, and self-learners.

What is OER?

Open Educational Resources CommonsAccording to OER Commons, "Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Open educational resources give educators the ability to adapt instructional resources to the individual needs of their students, to ensure that resources are up-to-date, and to ensure that cost is not a barrier to accessing high-quality standards-aligned resources."

What does "open" mean?

An OER gives you the right to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute:

Find the right Open Textbook

The repositories below host numerous open textbooks in several disciplines. Search for an open textbook, or ask the librarian Juliana Magro for help.

GALILEO Open Learning Materials

  • This repository brings together open educational resources throughout the University System of Georgia, including open textbooks and ancillary materials.


  • The LibreText Project is a leading, non-commercial open textbook organization initiated at the University of California, Davis.


  • Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS) is a search tool that aims to make the discovery of open content easier. OASIS currently searches open content from 58 different sources and contains 160,258 records. OASIS is being developed at SUNY Geneseo's Milne Library in consultation with Alexis Clifton, SUNY OER Services Executive Director.


  • OpenStax is a nonprofit based at Rice University, whose mission is to improve student access to education. Their library is used by hundreds of thousands of students.

Open Textbook Library

  • The Open Textbook Library provides a growing catalog of free, peer-reviewed, and openly-licensed textbooks that have been reviewed by faculty to assess their quality.

MERLOT Open Textbooks

  • MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching) is a program of the California State University System.  MERLOT Open textbooks include thousands of peer-reviewed titles on a broad range of subjects.

OER Commons: Open Textbooks

  • This catalog contains hundreds of college-level open textbooks from higher education institutions around the world.

British Columbia Open Textbook Collection

  • The BC Open Education also catalogs open textbooks. Search by keyword, or browse by subject.

OpenStax CNX

  • Dr. Richard Baraniuk founded OpenStax (then Connexions) in 1999 at Rice University to provide authors and learners with an open space where they can share and freely adapt educational materials such as courses, books, and reports. Today, OpenStax CNX is a dynamic non-profit digital ecosystem serving millions of users per month in the delivery of educational content to improve learning outcomes.

MIT OpenCourseWare Textbooks

  • This page is an index to the online textbooks in MIT OpenCourseWare. Each link goes to a course or resource page that contains the textbook files. Some of these online textbooks are open-licensed electronic versions of print books. Others are self-published online books, or course notes which are so thorough that they serve as an alternative to a conventional textbook.

The Mason OER Metafinder (below) searches across 18 different sources of open educational materials.  

MOM iconMason OER Metafinder (MOM)
Advanced Search

Adopting an Open Textbook: step-by-step guide

Using an open textbook for your class

  1. Find the right textbook. Search open textbook repositories such as the ones linked above, or ask a librarian for help.

  2. Review and evaluate to see if it matches your criteria and based on content, presentation, online accessibility, production options, platform compatibility, delivery options, interactivity, consistency between online and printed versions, and available ancillary material (test banks, PowerPoints, etc.).  Suggested source for evaluating an OER:

  3. Decide if you want to use as is or modify it. One of the benefits of open textbooks is flexibility to modify and customize them for specific course designs as much or as little as you desire. If you want to make edits or append content, make sure the Creative Commons license allows for that (every CC license except the non-derivative license allows for modifications).

  4. Distribute to your students. There are a number of ways in which you can do this.

    • If you’re using a textbook from this site, provide the link to the textbook to your students. They will have the option to select which file type they would like to download, or they can purchase a low cost printed version.

    • Alternatively, you can download copies of the book and put them on another site. Some examples of where you could put your own copies of the book files are:

      • Your institutional LMS (Learning Management System). Load the book files into your Blackboard or Canvas site and make the books available to your students via the LMS.

      • Use an online file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Docs. Upload a copy of the book files to Dropbox or Google Docs and send your student the link to that copy.

      • If you have a faculty website, put copies of the files on that website and send students to your website to download your copy of the textbook.

  5. Let us know. If you adopt an open textbook from this site, tell us about it! E-mail Sara Tabaei or Juliana Magro let them know which textbook you are using:

  • Sara Tabaei:

  • Juliana Terciotti Magro:


This section was adapted from BC Campus Adopt an Open Textbook, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Learn more about OER

book: faculty OER toolkitFaculty OER Toolkit

Shannon Moist

Simon Fraser University Library, Simon Fraser University Teaching & Learning Centre

The Faculty OER Toolkit is an information resource about and guide to adapting and adopting Open Educational Resources. Included are definitions and examples, information about Creative Commons licensing, and tips on how to adapt and/or adopt OER for classroom use.


Access multiple formats of this book through this link:

Open Educational Resources Mythbusting

Open Educational Resources Mythbusting

"OER is not really free," "OER adoption is too radical," "teachers need more time and work to adapt OER" and other myths busted in this easy-to-read booklet.

Click on the link below to access the PDF.

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