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24 Resources: Search and Find

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Be creative when searching for resources to include in an open textbook

There are literally millions of educational resources — photos, illustrations, videos and film, audio clips, courses, articles, research — that have been released with an open-copyright licence or are in the public domain and available to open textbook authors and publishers. Below are online libraries, projects, directories, repositories, and websites where you will find both individual objects and full resources. If you have difficulty finding what you need, be creative and look for the desired item — photo, graphic, video — in an article from one of the many open academic journals or an open textbook. Another trick is to use several synonyms when searching for a hard-to-find resource.

Many sources contain items that range in user permissions from no copyright (e.g., in the public domain) to CC licences to all rights reserved. Make it your practice to check every resource’s licence or permissions before adding it to your open textbook. User rights have been noted beside some of the below sources.

It is recommended avoiding CC licences that include the -ND (NoDerivatives) restriction as content under this licence cannot be changed. See CC BY-ND 4.0 for more information.

Chapter table of contents

Canadian collections

Mixed collections (open and restricted materials)


Libraries, museums, and book collections

Subject-specific collections

Type of resource


Canadian collections

Mixed collections (open and restricted materials)

Creative Commons (CC)




Canadian government websites

Most government of Canada websites and publications are covered by the open government licence. Here is an example of the Statistics Canada data licence

Source: Statistics Canada, name of product, reference date. Reproduced and distributed on an “as is” basis with the permission of Statistics Canada

However, when using a resource from a Canadian government website or publication, always check the Terms of Use, Copyright, or similar page for details.

Often, images and other resources from a Canadian government website stipulates that the reused image or resource not be used for commercial purposes. If this is the case, then add this line to your attribution statement: “This image cannot be used for commercial purposes.”

U.S. government websites

Generally, the information and images found on U.S. government websites are in the public domain. However, when using a resource from a U.S. government website, always check the Terms of Use, Copyright, or similar page for details.

Libraries, museums, and book collections

Also see open academic journals and repositories.

Subject-specific collections

Art, culture, and history


Music and audio

Science and health

Type of resource


See Music and Audio

Courses, lectures, and lessons

Games and interactive simulations

Images: charts, clip art, graphs, icons, photos, symbols, vector images


Open academic journals

Videos and film


  • Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE): Thousands of academic OER in a variety of languages
  • cIRcle: This OER repository is from the University of British Columbia. Each item is individually marked with copyright permissions.
  • Connexions: A repository of open educational resources started by OpenStax where faculty, students, and others can view and share these items
  • Internet Archive: Wayback Machine: A digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. Do not assume that items are in the public domain or openly licensed.
  • MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching): A curated collection of free and open online teaching, learning, and faculty development services contributed and used by an international education community.
  • OAlster database: Catalog of millions of OER
  • OER Commons: A public digital library of open educational resources launched by ISKME — the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education — in 2007
  • Open DOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories): Quality-controlled list of academic open access repositories
  • Open Education Europa (archived): OER offered in a variety of languages for the European teaching community
  • SOL*R (Shareable Online Learning Resources): Higher education and government material from British Columbia and released under CC licences
  • Wikiversity: Learning resources, learning projects, and research
Page added: Feb 20/18 | Last update: Apr 21/22


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Self-Publishing Guide Copyright © 2018 by Lauri M. Aesoph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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