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Program for Affordable Learning Materials (PALM): What Are Affordable Learning Materials?


What is Open Education?

"Open education encompasses resources, tools and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve educational access and effectiveness worldwide.Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing and creation with 21st century technology to create a vast pool of openly shared educational resources, while harnessing today’s collaborative spirit to develop educational approaches that are more responsive to learner’s needs." (What is Open Education" Open Education Week, 2018)

 Why Open Education Matters?

"People want to learn. By providing free and open access to education and knowledge, we help create a world where people can fulfill this desire. Students can get additional information, viewpoints and materials to help them succeed. Workers can learn things that will help them on the job. Faculty can draw on resources from all around the world. Researchers can share data and develop new networks. Teachers can find new ways to help students learn. People can connect with others they wouldn't otherwise meet to share ideas and information. Materials can be translated, mixed together, broken apart and openly shared again, increasing access and inviting fresh approaches. Anyone can access educational materials, scholarly articles, and supportive learning communities anytime they want to. Education is available, accessible, modifiable and free." ( "What is Open Education" Open Education Week, 2018)


Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are "any educational resources (including curriculum maps, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, multimedia applications, podcasts, and any other materials that have been designed for use in teaching and learning) that are openly available for use by educators and students, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or [license] fees." (UNESCO, 2011)

Affordable Learning Materials @ Cal State LA

Generally, OERs are available through Creative Commons licensing. These licenses allow creators to decide how they would like their works shared, and whether or not they can be reworked. Creators maintain copyright while also allowing the free-flow of ideas. In fact, many organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, have policies that require their research to be available free-of-charge to the public, so that they can encourage sharing of knowledge and the free-flow of ideas.

Although the definition of "affordable" is relative, we have identified the following resources as affordable.

Examples of OERs are:


Electronic Resources through the Library

The Library owns a variety of ebooks, and subscribes to databases that contain millions of scholarly articles. Utilizing these electronic resources would allow entire classes to have free access to their learning materials through the Library Catalog. Furthermore, the Library has the ability to purchase unlimited-user ebooks. If you would like us to check if your textbooks are available as an unlimited-user textbook, please email the book title and ISBN to

Fair Use Learning Materials

If you are only using a small portion of a text, you may be able to distribute it for educational purposes under "fair use." Fair use is a limitation of copyright law that allows for the partial reproduction of copyrighted works. Though, the line between fair use and copyright infringement is not always clear. For guidelines on when fair use is applicable, please visit our Copyright LibGuide.

Course Reserves

By placing textbooks on course reserve at the Library, students can opt to not purchase a textbook. While Course Reserves may not be ideal for every textbook, they are especially useful when only a small portion of a book will be used. Students can use the textbook free-of-charge in the Library, and not have to purchase a textbook.

Low-cost Textbooks (including CSU Rent Digital)

The average new textbook costs $68, with many textbooks costing upwards of $200. Although we do not have an exact formula for what determines a low-cost textbook, the main thing to consider is the textbook's price compared to equal-quality textbooks. Also, some textbooks can be rented for a substantial discount through the CSU Rent Digital program: CSU students can rent digital textbooks at 60% off the hardcopy publisher price. These textbooks are already widely-used, and advertising this option to students is our main goal.

For a more comprehensive list, visit Faculty Resources.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300