Quality textbooks every student can afford

Open Textbook Network membership comes to IU

As of March 2020, the Open Textbook Library holds 699 books.  These "open" textbooks have been funded, published and licensed to be freely used, adapted and distributed.  Downloads cost nothing and printing options are low cost. 

"Open Education Resources change the pay model," explains Sarah Hare, Scholarly Communication Librarian.  "These textbooks have been paid for upfront, sometimes by a university, or by a professional organization, or through a grant."


The textbooks in the library have been reviewed by faculty from all over the country, which is one way professors can determine if an open access textbook offers quality information appropriate for a specific course.

Recently Indiana University joined the Open Textbook Network, or OTN, a national collaborative supporting the Open Textbook Library. This community of 120 organizational members representing over a thousand campuses seeks to increase both the quantity and quality of openly licensed course texts.  An important activity for OTN members is textbook review.

"OTN members are the only ones who can submit reviews, and these honest, mediated reviews add to the credibility of the library.  This is a way to faculty can explore open educational resources and contribute to a community focused on reducing costs for all students," said Hare.

OTN reports that 70 percent of all reviews are four stars or higher, and 45 percent of instructors who review a textbook go on to adopt it.  Importantly, all textbooks in the library are licensed for download and adaptation, allowing instructors to customize a text for specific learning objectives, or to insert relevant localized content. 

In the fall of 2020 Indiana University Bloomington will begin offered funded workshops to campus faculty interested in providing informed textbook reviews. Instructors will have the opportunity to review one of the available textbooks in the Open Textbook Library and receive a stipend for attending the workshop and posting a textbook review in the library. These high-quality reviews help faculty discern the strengths and weaknesses of OER in a specific subject area. Any IUB instructor of record is eligible to attend a workshop and write a review.

A close up photo of Sarah Hare looking into the camera

Hare said, "The strength of the workshop model is its ability to introduce Open Educational Resources in a more approachable way.  It can be easy to become overwhelmed, but the structure of the workshop and library is a good way to begin to explore all of the possibilities."