Here are some of the (many!) places you may wish to begin your search for open educational resources.
“The MERLOT system provides access to curated online learning and support materials and content creation tools, led by an international community of educators, learners and researchers.”
- OER Commons
Created by ISKME, an education nonprofit, “OER Commons is a public digital library of open educational resources.”
- OpenStax Textbooks
Part of Rice University, OpenStax publishes “high-quality, peer-reviewed, openly licensed college textbooks.”
- Open Textbook Hub
This hub at OER Commons is a collection of open textbooks and course materials curated by ISKME’s digital librarians.
- Pressbooks Directory
This directory indexes public books published by PressbooksEDU networks.
Given the variations in how “open” is defined and how metadata is structured, it’s a good practice to check the rights of the resources in any search results before using any of them.
- The Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)
This tool currently searches 22 different sources of open educational materials, including the American Memory Project (Library of Congress), Digital Public Library of America, Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), HathiTrust (Full View Available), JSTOR Open Access Books, MIT OpenCourseware, New York Public Library Digital Collections, Open Michigan, Project Gutenberg, Teaching Commons, World Digital Library, and others.
- Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS)
This tool currently searches more than 100 difference sources of open content. It is being developed at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library.
Formerly known as CC Search, Openverse is now part of WordPress. It searches for openly licensed and public domain works. This tool is helpful when you are searching for a variety of media (music, video, images, etc.), but do confirm the licensing and attribution information before using or remixing.
- AMSER (Applied Math & Science Education Repository)
“AMSER is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges but free for anyone to use.”
- CORE: Open Access for the Humanities
CORE (Commons Open Repository Exchange) is a “nonprofit, interdisciplinary, broad-ranging alternative to commercial networks” and hub of Humanities resources.
- OpenStax CNX Library
“The content in OpenStax CNX comes in two formats: Pages, which are like small ‘knowledge chunks,’ and Books, which are groups of Pages. Our open license allows for free use and reuse of all our content.” The CNX authoring platform was retired in 2020, and community-created content will be made available on Internet Archive.
- ROAM (Repository of Open and Affordable Materials)
This repository holds OER developed by Penn State faculty. The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences first launched the OER initiative at the university, so STEM subjects are well represented in the respository.
- Teaching Commons
“The Teaching Commons brings together high-quality open educational resources from leading colleges and universities. Curated by librarians and their institutions, the Teaching Commons includes open access textbooks, course materials, lesson plans, multimedia, and more.”
Freely accessible—though not open—platform where you can find TED-Ed Animations, TED Talks, and video-based lessons organized by subject and where you can also create lessons based on any TED-Ed Animation, TED Talk, or YouTube video.
- World Digital Library
“This collection contains cultural heritage materials gathered during the World Digital Library (WDL) project [2009–2020], including thousands of items contributed by partner organizations worldwide as well as content from Library of Congress collections.” In 2021, the World Digital Library was transitioned “into a sustainable home for perpetual access on the Library of Congress’s main website.”
- B.C. Open Textbook Collection
Hosted by BCcampus Open Education, this collection “contains hundreds of high quality resources selected for post-secondary curricula in British Columbia and Canada.”
- Milne Open Textbooks
“Milne Library Publishing at SUNY Geneseo manages and maintains Milne Open Textbooks, a catalog of open textbooks authored and peer-reviewed by SUNY faculty and staff.”
- Open Textbook Library
Supported by the Open Education Network, the Open Textbook Library “is a comprehensive referatory that points to open textbooks by a variety of authors and publishers.”
- OER at Bay College
This guide provides access to Open Educational Resources (OER) used at Bay College, a community college in Michigan.
- Textbooks from Bookboon
Bookboon titles are free but not open for revision or remixing, and students must create a free account to access them.
- Open Access on MUSE
“Project MUSE offers open access (OA) books, journals, and digital humanities works from several distinguished university presses, scholarly societies, and independent not-for-profit academic publishers.”
- Open Textbooks from MIT
“This page is an index to the online textbooks in MIT OpenCourseWare.”
- 2012 Book Archive
This site is the archive of Creative Commons-licensed copies of the books that were available online from a specific publisher at the end of 2012. The publisher asked to remain unnamed.
- Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)
“DOAB is a community-driven discovery service that indexes and provides access to scholarly, peer-reviewed open access books and helps users to find trusted open access book publishers.”
- MIT OpenCourseware
“MIT OpenCourseWare is a free and open collection of material from thousands of MIT courses, covering the entire MIT curriculum.”
- Open Course Library
Managed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Open Course Library (OCL) “is a collection of shareable course materials, including syllabi, course activities, readings, and assessments designed by teams of college faculty, instructional designers, librarians, and other experts.”
- Open Yale Courses
“Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.” Most of the lectures and other course materials are licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
- Saylor Academy
“Saylor Academy’s main project is providing free, self-paced certificate and credit courses to students around the world […]. But our courses are also open courseware (OCW) comprising open educational resources (OER). As such, most materials you find at Saylor Academy can be reused in some fashion.” Saylor Academy provides guidance on adapting their courses.
Please note that while some repositories listed below contain public domain or Creative Commons–licensed videos, many include videos that are freely accessible but not issued with an open license. Check the rights of any videos you plan to use. In some cases, only linking to a video—not embedding it—may be permitted.
- Big Think
These videos feature experts in a variety of fields speaking on topics in science, technology, business leadership, and others.
“Founded with the objective to provide free access to learn from the world’s top scholars, CosmoLearning gathers and organizes educational content in an intuitive environment. Our goal is to develop an innovative interface to discover and learn from new academic content.”
- Critical Commons
“Critical Commons is a public media archive and fair use advocacy network that supports the transformative reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts.” Users post video clips, often with written commentary.
- Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers free instructional videos and practice exercises aimed at a global audience. Also see Khan Academy on YouTube.
- Library of Congress Event Videos
“The Library of Congress hosts public events featuring authors, world leaders, entertainers, scholars and sports legends. We have been recording Library events for decades and are making those recordings available in this collection.”
- Library of Congress National Screening Room
“The National Screening Room showcases the riches of the Library’s vast moving image collection, designed to make otherwise unavailable movies, both copyrighted and in the public domain, accessible to the viewers worldwide.”
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (YouTube)
- Medical Images: Videos & Multimedia
This LibGuide from the University of Pennsylvania lists hubs of freely accessible surgical and medical videos.
- Medline Plus: Health Videos
“These animated videos show the anatomy of body parts and organ systems and how diseases and conditions affect them.”
- Moving Image Archive (Internet Archive)
“This library contains digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts. Many of these videos are available for free download.”
- National Park Service Multimedia Search
Use the filters on the left to find videos and webcam feeds. Note that only multimedia credited to NPS without any copyright symbol are in the public domain; other videos may have rights reserved.
“TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics—from science to business to global issues—in more than 110 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”
- U.S. National Archives (YouTube)
This YouTube channel is maintained by the U.S National Archives. Also see the complete list of YouTube channels maintained by other organizations within the archives, as well as transcripts of videos.
This site is a “free and open access educational video lectures repository. The lectures are given by distinguished scholars and scientists at the most important and prominent events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events from many fields of Science.”
Vimeo is a platform for hosting and sharing videos. Not all videos on Vimeo are freely accessible.
- World Lecture Project
“With more than 50,000 videos (wlp)° became one of the largest video libraries for academic videos with contributions of most outstanding scholars and scientists from around the globe. You can sort systematically through videos from many different disciplines, universities, and countries and find embedded videos provided by huge video platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or Dailymotion, but also linked videos from universities and other educational institutions.”
- YouTube Learning
Find playlists organized by topic and theme.
Under each item, see directions for finding Creative Commons–licensed photos and images, specifically.
- Flickr Advanced Search
To find Creative Commons–licensed and other rights-free images, select the desired criteria from the drop-down menu on the left. Options include “All creative commons,” “No known copyright restrictions,” and so on.
To download images, you’ll need to provide an email address or register, and you may also be asked to watch an ad. See the terms and conditions for details on using images from this site.
- The Gender Spectrum Collection: Stock Photos Beyond the Binary
Created by Broadly and now at VICE.com, “the Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés. This collection aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives.” The images in this collection are all licensed CC BY-NC-ND 4.0; read the guidelines about their use.
- Google Images
After entering your search terms and getting a gallery of results, click on “Tools” in the menu above the results. Then click on “Usage Rights” and select “Creative Commons licenses” from the drop-down menu to filter the results for Creative Commons–licensed images from Wikimedia, Flickr, and other sites.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Check the box next to “Show public domain images only” before entering your keywords in the search bar. For more information on using this site, see the LACMA blog Unframed.
- National Park Service Multimedia Search
Use the filters on the left to find photos. Note that only multimedia credited to NPS without any copyright symbol are in the public domain; other photos may have rights reserved.
- NOAA Photo Library
“The NOAA Photo Library collections reflect NOAA’s broad mission of advancing science ‘from the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun.’ […] The collection includes thousands of weather and space images, hundreds of images of shores and coastal seas, and thousands of marine species images ranging from whales to the most minute plankton.” All images are in the public domain.
- Noun Project
Noun Project provides two sets of resources: a collection of more than 3 million icons and a “professionally curated collection of authentic, beautiful images that celebrate diversity and represent a more inclusive world.” Icons are available for free download under a CC BY 3.0 license; photos are available for free download under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license. Users need to log in to download resources and may pay to download and use icons and photos without attribution.
- Open Access Artworks (The Met)
- Open Access at the National Gallery of Art
“The National Gallery of Art has an open access policy for images of works of art in our permanent collection which the Gallery believes to be in the public domain. Images of these works are available for download free of charge for any use, whether commercial or non-commercial.”
“Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Pexels license.”
This repository includes stock photos licensed under the Pixabay license. First results are often sponsored and lead to fee images; skip over these.
This repository includes stock photos licensed under the Pixnio license.
- Smithsonian Collections Search Center
Select the filter “Only return results with CC0 media” to search for media in the public domain.
Unsplash provides high-quality, stylish stock photos taken by photographers around the world. Note that the Unsplash license is different from Creative Commons licenses in that attribution is not required, although it is appreciated. Unsplash maintains a FAQ about using its photographs.
- Wikimedia Commons
The search bar is in the upper right of the main page. After initiating a search, filter for “Images,” and select the desired license from the “License” drop-down menu.
Music and Sound
- Audio Archive (Internet Archive)
“This library contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users. Many of these audios and MP3s are available for free download.”
- BBC Sound Effects Library
“The BBC Sound Effects Archive is available for personal, educational or research purposes. There are over 33,000 clips from across the world from the past 100 years.” According to the FAQ page, “as a general rule, as long as your usage remains non-commercial, you can use sound effects for free, crediting the BBC”; more detailed licensing information is also provided.
“This is a community music remixing site featuring remixes and samples licensed under Creative Commons licenses. […] You are free to download and sample from music on this site and share the results with anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
- Collections with Audio Recordings (Library of Congress)
- DanoSongs Royalty Free Music
Find royalty-free music for use in “videos, films, apps, games, presentations, podcasts and other media” from the musician Dan-O at this site. The music is licensed for non-commercial use only. See details about the license before using in a remix; the license is similar to but not the same as a CC BY-NC license.
- Free Music Archive (FMA)
“Free Music Archive (FMA), founded in 2009 by radio station WFMU, offers free access to open licensed, original music. […] Every MP3 you discover on Free Music Archive is pre-cleared for certain types of uses that would otherwise be prohibited by copyright laws that were not designed for the digital era.” See the FAQ for details about what uses are permitted by the different licenses.
“Freesound aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, … released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse.”
LibriVox provides free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers.
- National Park Service Multimedia Search
Use the filters on the left to find audio and podcasts. Note that only multimedia credited to NPS without any copyright symbol are in the public domain; other audio and podcasts may have rights reserved.