Faculty: This page contains resources to help you supplement your assigned texts with free/low-cost material, or transition your class completely to no- or low-cost readings. If you're thinking about creating your own text, there's information about that here as well. Your subject librarian can help you, too!

Switch to an Open/Low-Cost Textbook

There are many inexpensive or free, high-quality alternatives to traditional textbooks available to instructors. Open textbooks are created by disciplinary specialists—sometimes originally for use in their own courses, sometimes expressly for the purpose of filling a perceived need for high-quality, affordable instructional material.

George Mason University has developed a tool that will search across multiple databases of free and low-cost texts — enter your subject area and give it a try, or browse the separate resources listed below.



Below are some resources listing open textbooks and other educational materials. Check out the Amazon-style reviews of many of these resources to see other instructors' opinions - just click on the titles!

OER Collections: Textbooks

OER Collections: Teach Without Textbooks

OER Collections: Move Beyond Text

Create Your Own Textbook!

If you're thinking about starting from scratch or adapting an existing open textbook, the University of British Columbia provides some good information:

Use the Library's E-Books as Textbooks

Did you know that the library holds over 500,000 licensed e-books in a wide variety of disciplines? Many of these books permit unlimited simultaneous use, making them good options for assigned course readings.

Whether you have a specific book in mind or want to see what's available on a particular topic, the best place to start is Scholar OneSearch:

Scholar OneSearch logo


To filter your results so you see only e-books, choose "e-Books" under Filter My Results.

When you find a book that interests you, click on the Online Access link. If access to the e-book is limited to one or a few simultaneous users, this information will be listed:

While you can certainly still assign a reading from this book to your students, they may have to wait their turn to access it - just like if it were a physical copy on reserve in the library. But an e-book that doesn't mention limited access will not have this problem. (Interested in seeing if it's possible to increase the number of simultaneous users for a book you've found? Contact your subject librarian!)

Another place you can start your search is our Books & E-Books Directory, which is browsable as an A-Z list of our major e-book packages, or you can limit the list to specific disciplines.

To link to an e-book in Blackboard or on your syllabus, you will need a "permalink" — a URL that is not tied to a specific search session. Click here for our guide to Finding and Creating Permalinks.

There are many e-books in the public domain, too - check out the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg for millions of texts.