Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
SSU ship logo and 'Salem State University' text

Open Educational Resources: Getting Started

A guide for faculty to assist with finding and adopting quality Open Educational Resources that help reduce the cost of course materials for students

Why OER?

The problem: 

  • The cost of textbooks for students has risen more than 4 times the cost of inflation in the last 10 years. Textbooks and learning materials cost students approximately $1,200 per year.
  • According to a study by U.S. PIRG, 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook they needed for a class because it was too expensive.  

A solution:

  • Through the use of Open Educational Resources (OER), the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.
  • OER also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating a textbook that can be tailored for the specific course, instead of being bound to traditional print resources. 

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

three book which are open and stacked on top of each other, surrounded by piled of closed, stacked books

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any format that reside in the public domain or have been released with an open license that permits access, use, repurposing, and/or redistribution by others with limited or no restrictions (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007). OER can include full courses, course materials, textbooks, interactive materials such as simulations and role plays, databases, software, apps (including mobile apps), websites, videos and any other materials useful for teaching or research. 

OER are specifically designed by their creator/s to be free, openly available, and are often licensed to be re-used, re-mixed, and re-distributed.  Open is not just about low cost (though that is an important benefit of using OER) but about the ability to take what others have created, customize it for your specific educational needs, and then share your creation with others.  

OER can come in a variety of forms:

  • Primary sources - Images, video, and sound recordings.  Some sources are in the public domain, while others have been licensed as open by their creators.   In addition, many texts that are in the public domain are available online/electronically.

  • Learning content - created content that ranges from individual lectures, animations, and assessments to complete courses and textbooks.  


Other Universities' Library Guides for Finding Resources


For questions or help with finding OER, please contact one of the leaders of the Viking OER & Textbook Affordability Initiative:

Michele Louro, Professor of History and Faculty Fellow for OER & Textbook Affordability:

Elizabeth McKeigue, Dean of the Library:

Gail Rankin, Director of Academic and Educational Technologies:

For help and advice for finding resources in your specific discipline, go to the Contact a Librarian page to find the subject librarian for your discipline.