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Library Research Guides

Textbook Affordability: Find OER

Start Here

There are many places to find OERs. These are called OER databases or repositories. Check out a few of them below. There's no need to go through all of them. If you have limited time, I recommend going to the OpenStax and OER Commons websites and clicking around. 

  • OpenStax - Based at Rice University. More than 20 peer-reviewed textbooks used at UC and CSU. Can adopt or modify. Low-cost print versions available. 
  • MERLOT - Free and open textbooks and related materials. 
  • OER Commons - Searchable database of textbooks. There is usually a lot of overlap between MERLOT and OER Commons. 
  • Skills Commons - Materials for workforce development from the Department of Labor. Produced by community colleges, managed by CSU and the MERLOT program for the Department of Labor. This site is very confusing, but one of the better repositories for career education majors.
  • LibreTexts - Another large repository with a lot of information duplicated from the other repositories, but LibreTexts has an amazing remixer tool that allows users to make their own custom textbooks from existing OERs. Also, we are in a grant partnership with them. 
  • Lumen Learning - OER courses and course materials. 

Other Multiple Subjects Repositories

  • B.C. Open Textbook Project: Openly licensed textbooks in many subjects in higher education from the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education and the Hewlett Foundation.

  • CCCOER listserv of Shared OER : Find discipline specific resources from colleagues archived from the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources list serve. You can also get to it by going to > click on Get Involved > click on Community Email > click on Index to Shared OER. 

  • Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS): Being developed at SUNY Geneseo's Milne Library, OASIS is a search tool that aims to make the discovery of open content easier. OASIS currently searches open content from 80 different sources and contains 325,750 records.

  • Open Textbooks: From the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources.  International org. with hundreds of higher education and associated institutions. This site has an advisory group you can join - a public discussion list for community college faculty, librarians, instructional designers, administrators, and educators who are interested in open education policy, practices and resources.

  • College Open Textbooks: 29 educational organizations affiliated with 2000 two-year colleges (including CCCOER) focused on driving adoption of open textbooks.

  • Open Textbook Library: Center for Open Education at Univ. of Minn.  Free to download, adapt and distribute or print at low cost.  Reviewed by faculty and used in higher education.   

  • OER and Other Resources: General, humanities, social sciences, math, and sciences.  A broad range of resources with only some overlap with other databases on this page.  

  • MIT Open Courseware: Find instructional approaches and teaching materials from MIT, and freely select and adapt their explanations, examples, and simulations for your own classroom.

  • Saylor Academy. “Each of the 100+ books… is freely available for download, online reading, and sharing, under one of various open licenses. Check each book for specific terms.”

Canvas Commons

Commons is a learning object repository that enables educators to find, import, and share resources. A digital library full of educational content, Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with other users as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course.

How to access Canvas Commons

  1. Log into Canvas 
  2. In the left hand menu there will be an option for "Commons" 

select the commons icon in canvas

  1. Search for resources such as entire courses, modules, assignments, etc. to download into your course
    • Note: it is recommended that you create a development course to download materials from Canvas Commons. 
  2. OEI OER-Enabled Canvas Course Shells: The 30 sample course shells are housed in Canvas Commons, and can be found using the following search terms: CCC, OEI, OpenStax, and OER. There is one blank so faculty can embed their own OER content. Each shell is WCAG 2.0 AA compliant and has a Creative Commons Attribution license with attribution to be given to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, funder of the OEI. 

Licensing Resources

Resources on Canvas Commons will have different licenses. To get more information about the types of licenses you will see in Canvas Commons: 

Learn More

You can learn more about Canvas Commons on the Canvas Commons Community website:

Non-OER, Non-Library, Free Online Resources

There are many sites that have educational content that is free to students and faculty. However, many of these resources are not OER as they are typically copyrighted. These resources can be freely and legally accessed, but often do not have the licensing to make the OER; they can't be copied, edited, or distributed outside of their original location. These resources can be linked to from Canvas, but not copied into Canvas. Despite these restrictions, they are often valuable resources for faculty and students. 

Here are a list of some of the more popular ones: 

Textbooks through the library

The Library Can Not Put your ebook on Reserve for Most Traditional Publishers

Despite libraries’ attempts to make copies of selected textbooks and course materials available to assist those students who are unable to purchase their own, the following is a sample of publishers that will not allow libraries to purchase e-textbook versions of their publications: 

  • Pearson 

  • Cengage 

  • Elsevier imprints (especially in veterinary and health science) such as Elsevier Health Science, Mosby, and Saunders

  • McGraw Hill 

  • Most publishers of ‘common reads,’ popular fiction, and popular nonfiction 

  • Thieme 

ALA denounces Amazon, Macmillan in response to Congressional inquiry on competition in digital markets

If my textbook is available on Reserve at the library, does this count as zero-cost?


The ARC Library maintains a large collection of current print textbooks, comprising nearly 2,500 titles. However, even when the library building is open this does not meet the need of all of our students, and there can be competition for reserve items, or students are limited to using the books in the library when open. If the materials are only available in print, and only a few copies are available for check-out in the library, then this is not sufficient access. 


The library does have it's own collection of ebooks that can be used for your courses at no cost to students. Therefore qualifying for the ZTC logo. 

  • Search in OneSearch to find ebooks
  • !Important! - Check user access of ebooks to ensure it is Unlimited User Access 
  • Add the Permalink to the entire ebook or chapters in Canvas, Bookstore, etc. 

Note: Library Reserves and resources are not OER as the library is purchasing these materials, and they are not openly licensed.