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 For instance, if you do not need primary sources (digitized historical documents) you can uncheck American Memory (Library of Congress.)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.