No-Cost Textbooks: What They Are and How to Find Them

No-cost and open textbooks help guarantee students access to needed educational material, especially in a virtual format

Two students walking along the block N statue in from of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center building.

No-Cost Textbooks: What They Are and How to Find Them

No-cost and open textbooks help guarantee students access to needed educational material, especially in a virtual format

Two students walking along the block N statue in from of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center building.

As more classes move to online and hybrid environments, student interest in access to affordable online textbooks is increasing. In the Campus Climate Survey, for example, 58% of University of Nevada, Reno students said in that they had experienced financial hardship related to textbooks and other course materials. No-cost open textbooks are a great option for faculty, too. In adopting open textbooks and other Open Educational Resources (OERs), faculty can save students money and increase student access to education. They might also explore new forms of teaching by creating or facilitating student creation of open learning resources. Find out how you can support your students through no-cost textbooks and register for the Libraries and Instructional Design open forum OER 101: Teaching with Low or No-Cost Textbooks at 2 p.m. June 29 or check out the Libraries’ guide on OERs

An amazing variety of open textbooks and other OERs are available free of charge online and are licensed to allow instructors to adapt them as needed for their classes. Instructors can use a whole book or individual chapters and change them without having to worry about copyright infringement. To get a sense of the many options out there, check out these resources: 

Open Textbook Library 

This Open Textbook Library is a collection of open textbooks curated by the Open Textbook Network. Many of the books include ratings by faculty across the United States. Books cover a broad range of disciplines at different levels, including broader introductions and more specific takes on higher level concepts. 

OpenStax 

Based out of Rice University, OpenStax has created more than 40 open textbooks aimed at common and often introductory-level university classes in the sciences and social sciences, such as U.S. History, Biology, Calculus, and Psychology. Each book has gone through numerous rounds of peer review.  

University Libraries 

The University Libraries embrace intellectual inquiry and innovation, nurture the production of new knowledge, and foster excellence in learning, teaching and research.  During each academic year, the Libraries welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors across its network of three branch libraries: the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and the Savitt Medical Library. Visitors checked-out more than 90,000 items and completed more than 2 million database searches. 

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