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Faculty Guide: Open Educational Resources & Affordable Textbook Alternatives

Affordable Learning Georgia

Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) is a USG initiative that supports the implementation of affordable alternatives to expensive commercial textbooks, particularly Open Educational Resources (OER) and open textbooks, which are both free and customizable.

ALG offers numerous services to accomplish its goal of affordable learning. The ALG website contains resources and information related to affordable learning, OER, and advocacy. ALG's Textbook Transformation Grants provide monetary support to encourage the adoption and/or creation of open textbooks or the use of library/licensed educational resources (LER).

GGC Contacts

GGC supports the University System of Georgia's (USG) Affordable Learning Georgia program. This program provides two on-campus "champions" for faculty interested in affordable learning, and their email addresses are listed below. 

Library ChampionChris Matz, Dean of Library Services

Design ChampionTracy Adkins, Executive Director of Academic Technology and Campus Engagement

Campus ContactOffice of Research and Sponsored Programs & Marie Firestone, Associate Director

ALG Grant Information

GGC's Affordable Materials Grant Data, Spring 2023
The above document is a cumulative cost savings and benefits realized by GGC students due to GGC faculty participation in Affordable Materials Grants

ALG Textbook Transformation Grants

The Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grants are intended to:

  1. Pilot different approaches in USG courses for textbook transformation including adoption, adaptation, and creation of Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or identification and adoption of materials already available in GALILEO and USG libraries.
  2. Provide support to faculty, libraries, and their institutions to implement these approaches.
  3. Lower the cost of college for students and contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation.

The Textbook Transformation Grants are offered several times throughout the year. If you'd like to apply for a grant and need help getting started, your ALG Campus Champions are happy to help.

Library/Licensed Educational Resources

Library/Licensed Educational Resources (LER) can support affordability efforts on campus when used to replace an expensive traditional textbook. These resources are not considered OER because they are not openly licensed, such as with a Creative Commons license. However, they are available to students without additional costs.

Finding LER at Kaufman Library

Kaufman Library has a diverse and extensive array of library resources. If you have questions about which library resources can be used as LER, your library liaison can help you find the resources you need.

Where to Start:

Open Educational Resources

UNESCO defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as "any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation." 

As the definition above illustrates, OER are not limited to only open textbooks; however, textbook affordability is a central issue for many OER initiatives. The Kaufman Library purchases and subscribes to a wide variety of resources that can be used to replace a traditional textbook. These Library/Licensed Educational Resources (LER) are not considered OER because they are only available to GGC students and faculty and they often are restricted in how you can reuse them; however, they can still be a valuable asset when considering alternatives to traditional textbooks.

Suggested Resources for Learning More About OERs

If you'd like to learn more about OER, the sites below are excellent resources.

Finding OERs

Resources for Finding OERs

oasis logo

Advanced Search

The Milne Library at SUNY Geneseo developed OASIS, a tool that searches across multiple OER sites.


Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)

Advanced Search

George Mason University Libraries also created a tool that searches across OER sites, the Mason OER Metafinder (MOM).


Try searching with OASIS or MOM before making a deeper dive into the OER sites in the next section. Your library liaison is also here to help!

Numerous sites and repositories exist that make OER available online or make finding OER easier. Below is a selection of available sites.

The following directories enable discovery of freely available peer-reviewed eBooks and eJournals.

Course Reserves

GGC faculty may put materials on course reserve for student use. If you wish to place materials on course reserve, please submit the electronic Course Reserve Request Form and drop off any physical items at the library circulation desk.


  • Please allow 7 business days for library staff to process new reserve items. You will receive an email when your items are ready for student use.
  • Complete bibliographic citations must accompany all excerpts submitted for course reserve, with the exception of instructor-created materials.
  • Items obtained via Interlibrary Loan or GIL Express cannot be placed on course reserve.
  • Any textbook copy that has been received by you from a publisher for evaluation purposes, at no cost to you, either labeled “Instructor’s Copy” or contains other language restricting its use to review purposes only can no longer be accepted. This language may be found on the back cover of materials or as a ribbon across the front cover.
  • Any textbook copy labeled “Not for Resale,” received at no cost to you as well as any current textbook, may only be placed on Course Reserve for up to three weeks at the beginning of the semester, providing time for students to purchase their own individual copies.  Please pick up the textbook(s) you placed on Course Reserve after the three week period.
  • Please note that Kaufman Library is unable to purchase textbooks.
  • Remember to review and retain a Fair Use Checklist for your records. The library reserves the right to refuse any course reserve request that infringes on Fair Use.

Links and Relevant Resources:  

Substitutes for Course Reserve

Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Licensed Educational Resources (LERs) are excellent substitutes. “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities (retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute)” (Creative Commons, n.d.). LERs include articles, e-books, images, reports, statistics, streaming media, etc., that are located within the subscription-based and purchased databases and e-books that Kaufman Library makes available to the GGC community.

A variety of sites provide search help for OERs, including OERs that are peer-reviewed. Many OERs are licensed under Creative Commons, which allows for the 5Rs mentioned above so that a particular OER can be adapted to meet specific instructional needs. Some OERs are open access textbooks, with content written by subject experts, making them freely available to replace required textbooks that have a price attached. Kaufman Library has created a guide to help locate available OERs, such as open-access textbooks, and provides information on Creative Commons licensing. Affordable Learning Georgia maintains a repository of OERs created through its Textbook Transformation grant program.

Materials in the public domain are often part of digitized collections made freely available by libraries, museums, learned societies, etc., and many feature primary source materials. Some materials in digital collections may still fall under copyright restrictions but can be used for teaching and research under Fair Use.

Library liaisons stand at the ready to collaborate with you to make using OERs and LERs a transformative pedagogical experience. Not only can the library liaisons collaborate with you to locate and evaluate the plethora of resources available, but can also work together to “remix” existing materials to make the content interactive and engaging for students.

If the material you have on Course Reserve is what you need, there are two possible options. If the book is available in e-format, the Library will explore the possibility of purchase. Please complete the Material Purchase Request form, but note that the e-format may not allow unlimited simultaneous users. If there is not an e-version, but this is still something you need for your course, please consider selecting a small portion after determining if it falls within Fair Use. If you deem it fair use, Kaufman Library will then digitize this portion for you to add to your D2L course.

Kaufman Library looks forward to working with you as we all make needed adjustments for the coming semester. Please contact your Library liaison or the Access Services Department if we can assist.


Creative Commons. (n.d.). What we do: Program area: Open education. (n.d.).

Creative Commons

The nonprofit Creative Commons provides a way to easily share and reuse content through its free copyright licenses. The use of a Creative Commons license does not remove copyright from an item (image, article, video, etc.), but it does allow the copyright holder to identify how the item can be used. Creative Commons licenses are described in more detail in the section below.

Creative Commons and OER

OER are often published under a Creative Commons license, so a basic understanding of these licenses helps you determine how an OER can be used. The links below

Learn about sharing your work via Creative Commons

Learn about reusing Creative Commons licensed works

Creative Commons Licenses

Below is a brief overview of the license conditions that can be applied to copyrighted works. OPEN Washington's OER course contains an excellent Creative Common licenses module, which provides an in-depth examination of this topic.

License Conditions

Creative Commons currently has four main types of license conditions a copyright holder can use when publishing her work. Below is description of each type.


This condition is the least restrictive of the Creative Commons licenses. Attribution only requires that others must give credit to the original copyright holder when using the work even if the original work has been revised in any way. All Creative Commons licenses require attribution, including licenses using the conditions below.

CC-SA/Attribution ShareAlike

ShareAlike requires that anyone creating a modified version of a work must publish the new work, even commercially, using the same terms as the original license, crediting original copyright holder.


NonCommercial allows for the use and reuse of a work as long as it is not for commercial purposes and the original copyright holder is credited.


NoDerivatives allows for the use of a work, even commercially, but the original work cannot be modified without seeking permission from the original copyright holder, who must be credited.


Non-commercial Share-alike allows for revision of the original work non-commercial work giving credit to the original copyright holder and licensing under the same terms.


Non-commercial No Derivatives is the most restrictive and only allows the downloading of the original work without any changes, giving credit to the original creator.

Public Domain

Creative Commons also has two ways to designate a work that has no copyright restrictions associated with it.


CC0 allows a copyright holder to waive any rights under copyright and give her work to the public domain.

Public Domain Mark

This mark identifies works that are free of known copyright restrictions. This mark can be used when copyright has expired on a work.