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Open Textbooks: Subject Guide

Open Educational Resources

Featured Library Resources: Open Texbooks

Why Open Textbooks

Textbook cost is one of the cost barriers for students to complete college.
  • College textbook prices have risen 1,041 percent Since 1977.

  • The average student should budget $1,240 - $1,440 for textbooks and course materials in 2018-19 in the US.* The average budget in New Jersey is $1,471 and $1,200 at New Jersey City University according to VALENJ. **

  • The cost barrier kept 2.4 million low and moderate-income college-qualified high school graduates from completing college in the previous decade.***

Open Textbooks are a solution.
  • Open textbooks are "textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. " 
  • The Open Textbook Network is a diverse community of higher education institutions that promote access, affordability, and student success through the use of open textbooks. Visit to know more.
  • OTN now has 78 institutions (82 campuses), 21 Systems & Consortia (904 campuses) and 99 members (986 campuses).
  • Why OTN?
    • Removes financial barriers for all students
    • Facilitates the free exchange of knowledge
    • Gives more control to faculty
    • Can be used to innovate pedagogy
    • Sharing is scalable
  • What does "Open" mean?
    • Open = free + permissions  = Creative Commons (some rights reserved)
    • With Creative Commons licenses you are free to copy, share, edit, mix, keep, use: 
      • Content Customization;
      •  Localization;
      • OER Enabled Pedagogy
    • More information about Open Licenses

Open Education Resources are Trending in Higher Education

  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions." 
  • OER "has increasingly been recognized by the international community as an innovative tool for meeting the challenges of providing lifelong learning opportunities for learners from diverse levels and modes of education worldwide."

-- Quoted from UNESCO.

  • Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources:

Any copyrightable work that is either (1) in the public domain or (2) licensed in a manner that provides users with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  1. Retain - the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse - the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise - the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix - the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute - the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

-- Quoted from, which was created by David Wiley and published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at

More information about Open Textbook Network (OTN) project

OPEN TEXTBOOK NETWORK -  Access, Affordability, and Academic Success
-  by David Ernst. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


The Guarini Library is a member of the OpenNJ.
  • We are a member of VALE NJ (Virtual Academic Library Environment of New Jersey).
  • OpenNJ  is a statewide initiative undertaken by VALE to provide New Jersey college and university faculty with a space to share Open Educational Resources and expand our knowledge and adoption of OER. 

Library Help & Info. Contacts:

Online Library Catalog: WorldCat Discovery

  • Use any combination of keywords, subjects, authors, or titles
  • Search results will include both print and electronic library holdings
  • Download fulltext e-books and e-journal articles easily
  • Locate print materials and DVDs in the library using the shelving locations, call numbers, collection guide, and map
  • Limit results by format, date, full-text, and peer-review
  • Search for books, journals, and articles in other libraries and request these items using Inter-library Loan
  • Use the Ask-a-Librarian feature to chat online or request assistance

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an open textbook?

We define an open textbook as one that has an open license that makes it free for anyone to use and change. It can be print or digital.

What is the Open Textbook Library?

The Open Textbook Library was started so that faculty could find open textbooks in one place. More technically, the Open Textbook Library is a comprehensive referatory that points to open textbooks by a variety of authors and publishers.

Do I need permission to use an open textbook?

Authors and publishers give you permission to use an open textbook by giving it an open license.

So I can just download an open textbook?

Yes. All open textbooks in the library can be downloaded and adopted for free without additional permissions or paperwork. You can find a list of sources on the "Sources for Open Textbooks" tab on the left hand side menu.

What is an open license?

We’re glad you asked! Visit Creative Commons for more information. Please note that the library no longer accepts new open textbooks that include a CC ND (No Derivatives) license component. See the next question to know why.

Can I edit or change an open textbook I find in the Open Textbook Library?

Usually, yes. The vast majority of open textbooks have a Creative Commons license that allows for editing, adapting and making derivatives. We believe the ability to make changes to an open textbook is integral to its definition as open. That’s why we no longer accept open textbooks that include a CC ND (No Derivatives) license component.

The license says it’s okay. How do I edit an open textbook?

A lot depends on the file types the author or publisher has made available. You may need technical support from local staff at your institution. See our guide, Modifying an Open Textbook, for more information.

I’m looking for a different file format of an open textbook (for example, an EPUB).

We require that an open textbook be available in at least one portable format. The author or publisher decides which formats to make available. If you don’t see the format you’re looking for, please contact the author or publisher directly.

What if students want a printed copy?

Authors and publishers almost always provide a PDF, so students can print pages as needed. In addition, some faculty make arrangements with the campus bookstores to provide printed copies at cost. Others upload the PDF to an online print-on-demand service and students order copies directly.

What are the requirements for including a book in the Open Textbook Library?

Open textbooks in the library must be able to support a quarter or semester course. For more details, please read our open textbook criteria.

What about the quality of open textbooks? Are they any good?

We leave quality judgements to faculty with expertise in the subject area. When institutions join the Open Textbook Network, faculty are invited to review an open textbook. Around 60% of books in the Open Textbook Library have been reviewed. In addition, most open textbooks are reviewed during production, using systems implemented by the authors and publishers.

Are books in the Open Textbook Library accessible?

It depends on the author and publisher. In general, in terms of file format, EPUB and EPUB3 considered the most accessible. Like with traditional textbooks, campuses often partner with their disability resource centers to collaborate on a case-by-case basis. Accessibility recommendations for open textbook authors and adaptors are included in our guide, Modifying an Open Textbook.

How do I access instructor and other ancillary materials?

Some authors and publishers offer instructor resources. Check directly with them for more information about what additional materials they may offer. Please note UMN Libraries Publishing is a separate organization. Visit UMN Libraries to learn more about their open textbooks.

How does the Open Textbook Library handle different versions and editions?

As a referatory, our goal is to connect faculty with the most recent edition. Most authors and publishers keep an archive of past versions and editions.

I want to write my own open textbook. How do I get started?

Please see our guide, Authoring Open Textbooks. If your institution is a member of the Open Textbook Network, we offer additional publishing support.

I appreciate the Open Textbook Library. How can I support it?

If your institution is not already a member of the Open Textbook Network, that’s a great place to start! If you have other ideas, please be in touch at

The above FAQ is taken from Open Textbook Library webpage.


Raise awareness of the OER movement.
Adopt an open textbook
-- Is there a textbook in the Open Textbook Library that fits your class and/or expertise?
Submit your OER Material

CC-BY Orange Grove repository, Florida's digital repository for instructional resources, YouTube