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What are Open Educational Resources?

According to the Hewlett Foundation, Open Educational Resources (OER) are "high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose." Common examples of OER include textbooks, online courses, lesson plans, software, text, audio, and video. With OER, you are free to download, print, share, and adapt without restrictions.

College textbooks are expensive. A typical student may spend upwards of $1,000 per year on textbooks. While tuition and fees are often non-negotiable, textbook costs vary student by student. Studies have shown that textbook affordability can hinder a student's learning experience. Results from national surveys have estimated that 65% of students have decided against buying a textbook because of the cost. For undergraduate courses, Open Educational Resources, such as Open Textbooks, have been developed and adopted to address this problem.

(Information taken from "Why? Adopt an Open Textbook" from Northwestern University Libraries.)

Open Textbook Repositories

  • Open Textbook Library : “Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization.”

  • OpenStax : Open textbooks in a variety of subjects that can be purchased as a print volume or accessed electronically for free.

  • MERLOT : Searchable collection of OERs, including textbooks.

  • BC Campus : Searchable and browsable collection of open textbooks.

  • Mason OER Metafinder : Metafinder created by George Mason University to search multiple open textbook repositories

  • OER Commons : Searchable collection of OERs, including textbooks.

  • Books @atla Open Press : Open access book publishing program from Atla (the American Theological Library Association) which includes Scholarly Edition of peer-reviewed books "on topics that impact what theological and religious studies librarians do and how they do it."


If you need help with finding or using OER resources, contact:

Rebecca Donald,, (847)317-4013

Matt Boutillier,, (847)317-7177