Open Educational Resources

Woman writing on a white board while holding open the OpenStax Chemistry Atoms First textbook.

College textbooks and course materials costs have increased over 800% in the last 3 decades, far outpacing inflation, housing, and medical costs, to become the most inflated consumer product. High cost texts create significant barriers to learning and student success. Open Educational Resources (OER) are "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others" (Hewlett Foundation). OER and related practices are an approach to overcoming cost and reuse barriers to the benefit of students and instructors.

For more general information about OER, see the Guide to Open Educational Resources. Related efforts based in the Libraries include:

Open Education Week

KU Libraries has recognized Open Education Week with workshops and a series of short videos that outline OER basics, introduce Creative Commons licenses, and share tips for finding OER. We have also announced our newest Textbook Heroes.

OER Grant Initiative

The goal of the KU OER Grant Initiative is to support the adoption, adaptation, and creation of open educational resources (OER) by KU instructors and encourage their use at KU to positively impact students. Instructors may apply for up to $5000 to implement OER in their courses.

Individuals, teams, and departments/programs may submit proposals to:

  • Adopt an existing open textbook (or other educational resource); $1,000
  • Adapt existing open educational resources to your instructional needs; up to $2,500
  • Create an open educational resource where none currently exist; up to $5,000

For more information see the application procedures.

Open Education Network

In 2015 KU joined the Open Textbook Network, which in 2020 rebranded as the Open Education Network, an alliance of higher education institutions committed to improving access, affordability, and academic success through the use of open textbooks.  The OEN manages the Open Textbook Library, a collection of over 1,000 open textbooks, many of which have been reviewed by disciplinary faculty at member institutions. As of 2023, the OEN remains a vital partner in expanding OER efforts at KU.

OpenStax Institutional Partner Program

In 2017 KU was admitted, with the support of the Provost, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and KU Libraries, to the OpenStax Institutional Partner Program. OpenStax is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization based at Rice University whose mission is to improve student access to education. As institutional partners, KU collaborated with OpenStax and peers to develop and implement a strategic plan to increase the use of OER at KU through a variety of advocacy and support mechanisms.

Textbook Heroes

In 2019 KU Libraries launched Textbook Heroes to recognize faculty, staff, students, and allies at KU who have taken extraordinary initiative to increase access to and affordability of required course materials by implementing and advocating for OER and other low and no cost course materials. A new cohort of Textbook Heroes are announced in the spring semester.


We're excited to expand our support for OER creation and publishing through Pressbooks, a Wordpress-based tool for simple open textbook publishing. Excellent examples from KU include Speak Up, Call In: Public Speaking as Advocacy, Problem Solving in Teams and Groups, and Be Credible: Information Literacy for Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing Students. More information is available at KU Libraries Open Textbooks, or by contacting

Questions about OER and related programs and support at KU should be directed to or Open Education Librarian, Heather Mac Bean.

Scholarly Communication Contacts

Josh Bolick
Head of Scholarly Communications & Copyright
Watson Library, Room 400A

Heather Mac Bean
Open Education Librarian
Watson Library, Room 450

Helpful Links