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Open Educational Resources: Techniques for Searching

Find open educational resources (OER) available to lower or eliminate the cost of textbook content for any course at Indian River State College. Find open access materials including alternative textbooks, public domain resources, and creative commons lice

Search for Public Domain Materials

Adding the keywords "public domain" to a search will often return results that are in the public domain when searching in a specific website. For example, in YouTube, searching with a keyword plus the words "public domain" will result in videos that are licensed for the public domain.

The Internet Archive is one large repository of public domain items that span across material types. Limit your search to a particular media type.

Internet Archive

Government Dcouments are in the Public Domain

Search for US government websites by limiting your search using the following shortcut when searching Google. + keywords

(site colon dot domain name, works with any such as .org, .edu, .mil, etc.)

You can also limit to a site or domain such as .org or .edu. Most government documents are free to reuse, redistribute, and remix as works of the US government are published in the public domain. The US government has many published reports and statistics that can be useful pieces of information for any discipline.

Public Domain Content on Social Media

Many US government agencies share copyright free photos through social media accounts. The Creative Commons search box above will search Flickr as one of the options, but you might stay up to date with postings if you follow your favorite US government profiles on your own preferred social media account.

NASA Instagram

A public domain photo from NASA's Instagram.

Open Access Image Galleries

Searching on Your Own

You can search the Internet for Creative Commons licensed materials or public domain items. A Google Advanced search allows you to limit your results to items with an open license.

Search Creative Commons Licensed Materials


Openly Available Sources Integrated Search (OASIS) is a search tool that aims to make the discovery of open content easier. OASIS currently searches open content from 72 different sources and contains 171,277 records.

George Mason University Libraries Logo

Search: Mason OER Metafinder (MOM)


The Mason OER Metafinder is produced by George Mason University Libraries and is another OER search tool you can try. It searches all of the following repositories for OER licensed works:

  • American Memory Project (Library of Congress), AMSER – Applied Math and Science Education Repository, BC Campus:Open Ed, College Open Textbooks, Digital Public Library of America, Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), HathiTrust – Full View Available, Merlot.Org, MIT OpenCourseware,, OER Commons, OERs at Internet Archive, Open Textbook Library, OpenStax CNX, Project Gutenberg, & World Digital Library.

Use Library eBooks

Your College Library has eBook databases that may contain your current textbook! Or you may be able to find an eBook in it that you can use instead of a paid-textbook. Or you can ask your librarian to see if there are any eBooks that can be purchased which will cover the same content your current textbook covers. Students can access  this quality content for FREE. The eBook needs to have a special user permission called unlimited use. This means that all students can access and use the eBook at the same time. The user permissions are listed in the details of the eBook. 

Unlimited user access