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Looking for Affordable Course Materials? The Library Can Help!

November 5, 2019

photo of textbooks from OpenStax Rice University

The high and ever-increasing costs of textbooks and assigned course readings are a growing concern for many students across The Claremont Colleges. As detailed in an August 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, college textbook prices have risen 88% in the past decade, with individual textbooks often costing over $200 each.

The Library endeavors, in myriad ways, to help address the challenges posed by high priced textbooks. We purchase a copy of all required Course Readings submitted to the Huntley Bookstore each semester. Print copies are made available for 4-hour checkout, which allows as many students as possible to have access; e-copies are preferred if an unlimited multi-user license is available. This kind of license allows users to download and print out sections of the book without restrictions. We also promote the use and creation of “open” textbooks and open educational resources.

A few tips for instructors interested in assigning or promoting affordable course materials:


Check to see if the library has an e-version of a required text for your class by searching the library’s catalog. If you find an e-book, you can link to it in Sakai or Canvas; in some cases, you can even a link directly to a particular chapter within the e-book.If the library does not currently provide access to an e-book you want to assign or if you want to confirm that the license of an e-book we already own allows multiple users to access the book at the same time, contact us! We’ll investigate availability and access. Read more about accessing e-books.

Open Textbooks

A growing body of textbooks are being made available online and are 100% free to use, print, or remix. Browse the collections of open textbooks included below (high quality and written by faculty). If you find a resource you’d like to use, add the hyperlink for that book to your Sakai or Canvas site.

  • Open Textbook Library via the University of Minnesota. All textbooks are under a Creative Commons license and are free to use and download. Many are peer reviewed by faculty members who have used these books in their classes.
  • OpenStax via Rice University. Freely licensed textbooks available to read online or download in multiple formats. Also includes some classroom resources.
  • Open SUNY Textbooks via the State University of New York (SUNY). Produced as part of an open access publishing initiative by SUNY Libraries, these books are written and peer reviewed by faculty, and they fall under a Creative Commons license.
  • InTechOpen. Home to nearly 3,000 open books, InTech is the world’s largest science, technology, and medicine open access book publisher.  It encourages teachers to use their materials in the classroom.

Librarians can help faculty identify quality free or lower-cost textbooks, e-books, journal articles, or other materials to use in your courses as alternatives to expensive textbooks.

Learn more about OERs. For more resources and information on finding affordable course materials for your class, contact your subject librarian.