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OATs: Open Access Textbooks Library Guide

10-Apr-2013 Newsletter article

The OATs Library Guide provides access, descriptions, and links to known initiatives and organizations that support the development and promotion of Open Access (OA) textbooks, and to OA and low-cost e-books, textbook catalogs, and databases.

An open access textbook is openly-licensed and offered online by its author(s). The open license sets open textbooks apart from traditional textbooks by allowing users to read online, download, or print the book at no additional cost.

For a textbook to be considered open, it must be licensed in a way that grants a baseline set of rights to users that are less restrictive than its standard copyright. A license or list of permissions must be clearly stated by the author.

Generally, the minimum baseline rights allow users at least the following:

  • to use the textbook without compensating the author
  • to copy the textbook, with appropriate credit to the author
  • to distribute the textbook non-commercially
  • to shift the textbook into another format (such as digital or print)

Many authors also grant rights such as:

  • to add, remove or alter content in the textbook, often on the condition that derivative works must have the same license
  • to copy and distribute the textbook without giving credit to the author to use the textbook commercially

Open Access Textbooks 

The Online Access Textbooks website provides an overview of initiatives and projects, as well as links to their respective sites and related articles, presentations, reports, social media, video, and webinars. Major projects include Affordable Learning Solutions, College Open Textbooks (see below), Dynamic Textbook Projects, and the Open Textbook Project.

Home of College Open Textbook site
Home page of the College Open Textbooks site

A 'Resource' tab offers links to general information about College Open Textbooks that includes links to a bibliography, blogs, e-books, directories, search engines, and legislation. Of particular note is the extensive list of links relating to 'Adoption' of open access textbooks.

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