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Open Educational Resources and Zero Textbook Cost

How to find and use Open Educational Resources

Why Zero Textbook Cost?

Nearly forty percent of CUNY students come from households with annual incomes of less than $20,000. For many of our students, the cost of textbooks can be a steep barrier to academic success. Students often choose not to register for courses that require expensive textbooks, or fail courses simply because they cannot afford the materials. These patterns can lead to increased enrollment time and reduced rates of degree completion.

One way to reduce textbook costs is to offer zero-textbook-cost courses, or ZTC courses.

Courses can be converted to ZTC in a variety of different ways, including using Open Educational Resources or making materials available through e-reserves or on an institutional site such as Blackboard. This guide is designed to help you choose the path that is right for you and your students. If you have any questions, or would like to schedule a one-on-one consultation, please contact me at

Link to Library Content

Linking to library content through OneSearch ensures that students can freely access your course materials by logging in with their QC credentials -- keeping us on the right side of copyright. However, you can't just copy and paste a link from the address bar! Fortunately, there's an easy way to get a stable URL for library items.

  1. Start by searching for content in OneSearch.
  2. In the item record, select "Permalink," and then select "Copy the Permalink to Clipboard."
  3. Paste the URL into your course site, syllabus, or wherever you make course materials available to students -- just as you would with any other link.

Reserve Materials at the Course Content Center

Librarians are here to help!

One easy way to make your course zero textbook cost is to use the resources available through the Queens College library. You can link directly to library resources on your Blackboard or other course management site. Or, you can ask the librarians at the Course Content Center to find, scan, clear copyright, and put materials on reserve for your students.

As part of our Reserves / Course Content support, the Reserves collection makes available to students required course materials assigned by Queens College faculty. An E-Reserves course site is created on for any material that faculty ask to be placed on Reserves.

Reserves in the COVID-19 Era

Our current policy remains that we will NOT purchase new or additional physical items for Reserves. We plan to transition to a predominantly E-Reserves collection by January 2022. The Library expects to reopen for limited in-person services during Fall 2020, though no opening date in September has been finalized.

The complete guide to E-Reserves is available on the Reserves Information for Faculty page.

Reserves Request Forms: Quick Access

E-Reserves Request: You can ask for required materials, such as ebooks, e-book chapters, articles, streaming videos, or other online materials. You may also ask for physical items from our existing QC collections (e. g. books, videos, etc).

NOTE: This all-in-one form can be used for any kind of item. Most fields in the form are required, but you may type “NA” in any fields that are “Not Applicable” to your citation.

We are no longer using the request form from Summer 2020 as it proved difficult to use. We expect this form to work well, but if you encounter any difficulties please let us know at:

Reserves Renewal Request: ask us to re-use Reserves material from a previous semester

Course Management Application: apply to manage your E-Reserves course site yourself

Student Papers Request: obtain student permission to share their work with course students

More Information

The complete guide to E-Reserves is available on the Reserves Information for Faculty page.

Designating a ZTC Course in Akademos

To mark your course "zero textbook cost" in the Queens College bookstore:

1. Log in to Akademos using your Queens College credentials.

2. After selecting the term and course, choose "Adoptions not Required" and "Course uses OER/Zero cost materials." Note that this is not the default selection when you select "Adoptions not Required."

3. Complete the remaining submission steps as you normally would.

Thank you for doing your part to keep Queens College affordable!