Zero Textbook Cost Degree Toolkit

5 Leveraging Library Resources and Expertise

Affordable Course Reading Discovery and Librarians

Subject Librarians specialists can be a great help in discovering open educational materials (OER) and open textbooks to be used in a zero-cost course. If your library has specific OER support often a librarian is trained to help advise you on materials that might work for your course, and have work plans available on how to support focused OER searching.[1] A librarian may be able to find a textbook or other resource that maps well to the current commercial textbook you are using. You may even have an OER Librarian! The library may also already have created an online resource that lists top places to find OER. Many libraries have created LibGuides that give background on OER and highlight the best places to find it. An example of a guide like this is Northwestern Michigan College: Open Educational Resources.

Library E-Reserve Services and Linking Services

If your library already supports an E-Reserve program, often course curriculum that is made available through such a service are already zero-cost course ready. An E-Reserves course usually consists of links placed in a database or directly into the Learning Management System (LMS) to already licensed library e-resources, web links to material on the public web, and or web links to OER or public domain resources.

E-book and Scholarly Articles

In recent years, if your institution’s library supports such purchasing, a library licensed e-book may be available to purchase with a licence that allows access by multiple students in a course. Ask your subject librarian to check if an e-book you want to use is available with an unlimited access licence for your institution. They just might be! Please note that commercial textbooks are not available to be purchased in this model. Librarians can help you find high quality peer-reviewed articles for courses as well. Often scholarly e-articles can be used in teaching as links or in PDF format in a password protected LMS – depending on the licence. Your librarian can help you with information about the Terms of Use of these resources.


Librarians can help with spreading the word about ZTC Degrees, though workshops and on boarding training for instructors. Librarians can also help train instructors in various open pedagogy tools, for example Pressbooks and

Library Publishing Services

Some libraries even have services to assist with publishing OERs and grant programs available. Check to see if that service is available at your institution. For example SUNY Open Textbooks is a library initiative that supports publishing OER and has had more than 250000 textbook downloads worldwide.[2] Ryerson University Library in 2018 launched a pilot OER Grant program for $30000 that is continuing into Fall 2019.[3]


  1. West, Q. (n.d.). Searching for Open Materials. Libraries as Leaders. Retrieved from
  2. SUNY Geneseo. (n.d.). Publishing, Digital Projects, & Scholarship. Retrieved from
  3. Ryerson University Library (2018, 23 July). 2018/19 Ryerson University Library and Archives OER Grants. Retrieved from l


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Zero Textbook Cost Degree Toolkit Copyright © 2019 by Ann Ludbrook, Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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