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Zero textbook cost means that students do not incur any costs for purchasing course material. However, zero-cost to the students does not guarantee zero cost to the institution, ie. subscription databases, library equipment loans. To create a course that is at zero-cost to students, course instructors can use many platforms including Open Educational Resources; Open Access, Creative Commons, and public domain materials; along with resources owned or licensed by the Library.

  • Open Educational Resources (OERs) are free learning materials that are licensed, often under a Creative Commons license, to allows users to retain copies of OER content, as well as reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the content. OERs include textbooks, videos, tests, entire courses, course modules, and syllabi. 
  • Open Access (OA) license allows users to have immediate, unrestricted, digital access to content published under that OA license. 
  • Public Domain works may be used without seeking the copyright holder’s permission or paying a license fee because the content owner's exclusive intellectual property rights to that content may have been expired, forfeited, waived, and/or deemed inapplicable.

View open educational resources including repositories, textbooks, and courses in your discipline, visit our Skyline Library Open Educational Resources (OER) by Subject Guide.

Explore available library electronic resources for your course in our Library eBook Databases (OneLogin authentication required):

Not finding the resources you need? Ask a Librarian, or visit the Library’s Faculty Services page.


Below are some examples of open access, public domain, Creative Commons licensed works.

  • BookBoon: BookBoon provides textbooks in Finance, Management and Organization, Marketing and Media, and Strategy. The books can be downloaded for free but do contain some minimal advertising.
  • ManyBooks: A digital library of more than 29,000 ebooks on various topics.
  • Manuscript and Rare Books: This site holds 900 illuminated manuscripts, 1,250 of the first printed books (ca. 1455 – 1500), and an important collection of post-1500 deluxe editions, this extraordinary collection chronicles the art of the book over more than 1,000 years. The collection is from all over the world, and from ancient to modern times. It features deluxe Gospel books from Armenia, Ethiopia, Byzantium, and Ottonian Germany, French and Flemish books of hours, as well as masterpieces of Safavid, Mughal and Ottoman manuscript illumination.
  • National Academies Press: Most books published by the National Academies Press can be downloaded for free in PDF format. Just find the book you want, bypass the print price, and click the “Download Free PDF” button. This site requires that you provide a name and e-mail address.
  • Open Library: A digital library of over 100,000 ebooks including classic literature.
  • Project Gutenberg: A digital library of over 45,000 free ebooks.
  • Smarthistory: This is a free multimedia web-book for art history.
  • ACS Publications Editor’s Choice: List of peer-reviewed research articles from ACS journals selected by ACS editors and made available for free.
  • BioMed Central: Open Access scholarly journals in biosciences.
  • BMJ Open: Open access articles on medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas.
  • Digital Commons Network: Full text access to journals.
  • NIMH: An extensive and growing collection of our NIMH’s statistics on the prevalence, treatment and costs of mental disorders; includes sections on mental health-related disability and on suicide.
  • Oxford Open: List of fully open access journals in science.
  • Philpaper: Open access archive in philosophy.
  • PLoS: Public Library of Science: Open access scientific and medical literature.
  • PubMed: Large biomedical database maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
  • Sage Open: Open access journal with original research and review articles in an interactive, open access format. Articles span the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences as well as the humanities.
  • Flickr: Creative Commons: A collection of images published on Flickr using a Creative Commons license.
  • Getty’s Open Content Program: A wonderful collection of more than 4,500 images released under an open license in August 2013.
  • NY Public Library Digital Gallery: Open access to over 700,000 digital images from the new York Public Library’s collections.
  • OpenGLAM Collections: List of openly licensed datasets from several cultural institutions. All collections provide digital scans or photos that can be freely used without any restrictions.
  • Pixabay: Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0.
  • U.S. Government Photos and Images: A vast collection of photos and images from the U.S. Government, many of which are in the public domain and free to use.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (US): The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor is the principal federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions and price changes in the economy. Its mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making.
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis (US): The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) promotes a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing the most timely, relevant and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner.
  • Bureau of Prison: This website provides statistical data on federal prison populations by gender, race, ethnicity, age and other demographic characteristics.
  • Catalog of US Government Publications: Federal publications that include descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online.
  • Census Bureau (US): This is the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy
  • Data.gov: A one-stop shop for data provided by the US government. Includes raw and geospatial datasets.
  • Freedom of Information Act: From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, this website facilitates access to U.S. government information in executive branch agency records, either through the Electronic Reading Room or by inquiry directly to the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Gifts of Speech: Women’s Speeches from Around the World: This website promotes free access to and preservation of speeches of inspirational and influential women from around the world.
  • GovEngine.com: Directory for U.S. federal, state and local websites, including courts.
  • GovTrack.us: Free online service to track activities in the U.S. Congress such as the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records in the Senate and House of Representatives and information on Members of Congress.
  • National Archives-Online Research Tools and Aids: From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration of the U.S. government, a guide to finding online federal records and information about them, including from Presidential Libraries.
  • Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world
  • United States Government Manual: Searchable official information source about the agencies of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Video and image sources.
  • USA.gov: Large official United States government Web portal offering easy access to all online U.S. federal, state and local government resources, by various means of approach. Excellent source for such information, with tutorials.