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Teaching and Learning with the Libraries

Library instruction, services, and resources of interest to faculty and instructors.

Library Research Guide

Open Textbooks and Alternative Textbooks


Alternatives to print copies of textbooks

There are a number of alternatives to traditional textbooks including open textbooks and alternative textbooks.

Open textbooks are similar to traditional textbooks but are open in that the user (students, instructors) do not pay to use the books. Most open textbooks are digital and can be read online. Some allow downloading and printing.

Alternative textbooks is an umbrella term that covers many variations on the traditional textbooks. You may already be using alternative textbooks. They include:

  • digital versions of course packets of decades past: a collection of articles and book book chapters
  • instructor-created textbooks available at no or low cost to students, such as through K-State's Open/Alternative Textbook Initiative
  • ebooks - scholarly and non-scholarly books assigned instead of textbooks
  • videos - films, documentaries, demonstrations, etc.
  • online learning modules and activities - often referred to by the term Open Educational Resources (OERs)

You can create your alternative textbook by linking to or embedding materials from K-State Libraries' books, journals, and databases or from websites providing access to materials that are open access or in the public domain.


Find Open Access Textbooks and Open Educational Resources (OERs)

A longer list is available through K-State's Center for Advancement of Digital Scholarship's Resources to Find Open Textbooks.

  • George Mason's The Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)
    • Search Tip: searches across over twenty sites. Use the category options to select or de-select sites that you want to search. For instance, if you do not need primary sources (digitized historical documents) you can uncheck American Memory (Library of Congress.)
  • SUNY Geneseo's Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS)
    • Search Tip: you can drill-down by clicking on links but this does not provide a comprehensive list of the thousands of materials available. Try searching for key terms or using the Advanced Search.
  • University of Minnesota's Open Textbook Library
    • Search Tip: browse by subject or search by keywords.

Streaming Videos

Find Streaming Videos

The following resources are limited to current K-State students, faculty, and staff; require sign in with K-State eID and password

See our list of databases with videos. Some databases include videos, such as methodology videos for labs, other databases focus on documentary or popular films.


Request in Advance

Two of our databases require titles to be specifically requested: Kanopy and Swank. Requests can take a few days to a few weeks to be processed. A longer time frame can occur with Swank due to volume of requests.

Once one instructor has requested the title it is available to all K-Staters.


Requesting Titles: Kanopy & Swank

The K-State Libraries subscriptions to Kanopy and Swank can be access from our Databases list.

Instructions for embedding videos in Canvas are provided on in the "Embedding in Canvas" section of this guide, specifically the box titled "Instructions & Tips." 

Kanopy -- place your request from within Kanopy; when you click a title we do not currently have access to, a form appears to request access.

  • Kanopy includes films from BBC, Criterion Collection, documentaries, and classic films.
  • The individual films that K-State Libraries has subscribed to are listed when the website opens.
  • Use the search feature to locate other films to request access.
  • The Libraries do not have access to all titles in Kanopy. Each title has a subscription cost for one year of access. We have funds allocated for purchasing access to Kanopy titles. Once those funds are used up, we have to wait until the next year to request different titles.

Swank Digital Campus -- these titles are requested via the Reserves: Streamed Resources page.

  • Swank is our primary provider of popular films
  • The films that K-State Libraries has subscribed to appear when the website opens.
  • Create and use the instructor login to search for films available to request. (The full catalog does not appear for students.)
  • We have a limited number of films we can request on Swank, so may not be able to fill all requests.
  • We have access to a requested title in Swank for one year. The expiration date appears on the film's streaming page. Look for "Licensed through xx xx, xxxx"
  • Our contract with Swank allows us to access a fixed number of titles in a three year period. Once those titles are used, we have to wait to request different titles.


Immediately Available Streaming Films

Films in our other databases can be watched right away. Some databases marked as including videos also include books, journal articles, and other materials.
See our complete list of databases with videos.

  • Academic Video Online*-- over 66,000 videos/films across disciplines. Includes documentaries, interviews, newsreels,  award-winning films, and more.
  • JoVE - (journal of visualized experiments) -- access to materials published 2011 - present. Includes videos of detailed experiments in biology, bionengineering, immunology and infection, medicine, and neuroscience.
  • March of Time* -- restored newsreels shown in movie theaters in the U.S. between 1935 and 1967.

*Academic Video Online and March of Time are two of six video databases that we subscribe to on the Alexander Street Press platform. When looking for instruction about using these databases, information may be listed under Alexander Street Press.

Watch Parties for Your Classes

Watch parties can be accomplished by embedding or linking to our videos in Canvas and scheduling a start time for the film. Everyone in the class will be starting and stopping the film for themselves. Thus far, we have not determined a way for the instructor to control playing the film for the whole class without violating copyright. (If you know of a way, please let us know!)

The discussion can take place using:

  • Canvas' Discussion Board - this is limited to a text-based discussion, and is an option for asynchronous discussions
  • Zoom - video/audio discussions
  • Social media or group texting apps


Film Showings and Festivals (Outside a Class)

If you are showing a film outside the Canvas/classroom environment, please see our Film Showings and Festivals guidance.