Open textbooks

November 10, 2022

Do all students in your course have easy access to the textbooks? If the cost, availability, high demand at the Library, restrictive ebook licences or other barriers are a problem, open textbooks may be a good option.

What are open textbooks

Open textbooks are free online textbooks available for anyone to use. They are openly licensed, can be linked to in Stream, including via an eReserve reading list, and added to the Discover Library search.

Open textbooks are part of the wider trend of Open Educational Resources (OER) – free online teaching and learning materials which include videos, audio, courseware, readings, books and more.

Why use open textbooks

The benefits of open textbooks include:

  • free for everyone
  • accessible
  • equitable for students from all backgrounds
  • can be modified to suit the students and course
  • contribute to SDG4: ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

How to use open textbooks

There are various ways you might use an open textbook in your course:

  • adopt an existing open textbook that meets the needs of your course, as you would with a traditional textbook
  • adapt an existing one, add your own content (such as a New Zealand focus) or remix several
  • create your own open textbook from scratch

Find Open Textbooks

There are many platforms where you can find open textbooks to adopt or adapt. Here is a selection:
Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB): indexes and provides access to scholarly, peer-reviewed open access books and helps users to find trusted open access book publishers.
MERLOT: curated open educational resources, including textbooks.
OAPEN Open Access Publishing in European Networks: promotes and supports the transition to open access for academic books and works with publishers to build a quality-controlled collection of open access books.
OER Commons: open educational resources, including textbooks.
Open Textbook Library: hundreds of open textbooks which can be searched for or browsed by subject.
OpenStax: high-quality, peer-reviewed, openly licensed college textbooks published by Rice University.
OASIS: openly Available Sources Integrated Search: a search tool that aims to make the discovery of open resources easier.
Pressbooks Directory: support new models for book publishing with an emphasis on helping make educational resources (digital textbooks) free for all.

Contact us

If you would like to join us in the conversation about open textbooks, to find out more or let us know what you’re already doing in this space, please contact your Subject Librarian.

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