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Affordable Textbooks and Open Educational Resources: Introduction

This guide provides an introduction to open educational resources and open textbooks, that might be used as an alternative to expensive, commercially produced, textbooks.


The Open Educational Resource (OER) Commons defines open educational resources as teaching and learning materials that can be freely used and re-used at no cost. They can take the form of textbooks, images, videos, presentations or other educational resources that can be used to teach a course instead of traditional textbooks.

According to the Student PIRG report "Fixing the Broken Textbook Market," 65% of students do not buy a textbook because of the cost; 95% of the students surveyed report that their grades suffer because they do not buy the textbook.

WIU provides summer stipends to faculty for course development. Of particular interest are proposals that "assist in developing and increasing the facilities of Western Illinois University for broader educational opportunities." Faculty might want to consider submitting a proposal to develop a course using open educational resources, or library resources available to WIU students, faculty and staff. If submitted, they would fall into one of the following summer stipend categories:

1. Curriculum - Development of a significant curriculum proposal
2. Curriculum - Mastery of a new instructional technique

The resources on this Library Guide could be useful in finding open educational materials for classroom use. If you need additional assistance finding open educational resources, please do not hesitate to contact your Library Liaison or Linda Zellmer.

Grants for Open Textbooks

The 2018 Omnibus Spending measure passed by Congress included $5,000,000 in funding for development of open textbooks. The U.S. Department of Education is administering the funding. A news article from the Washington Post indicates that the Department is asking for public comment. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition is tracking activities on the proposed grant program, and will be releasing information on their website when funding becomes available.

Introductory Readings

What are Open Educational Resources?

Contact Information

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Linda Zellmer
Government Information & Data Services Librarian
Liaison to Biology, Geography, Geology & Agriculture
Malpass Library, 415