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University of Oregon
UO Libraries

OER & Textbook Affordability

This guide is an introduction to the use and creation of Open Educational Resources faculty & staff at the University of Oregon

Library eBook Purchasing Program

Last year UO libraries piloted a program to purchase eBooks to support courses with 25 students or more. This program has been given ongoing funding, and going forward, each term when instructors report required course materials to the Duck Store, the library will attempt to purchase those books where publishers allow us to. Major academic publishers often block textbook sales to libraries, so not every book can be purchased. If you have questions or if you want help finding a book the Library can purchase, reach out to the OER team at

If the Libraries purchase a book for one of your courses, you'll be notified via email. There is no obligation to recommend library eBooks to your students, but if they're a good fit for your course, we would appreciate it if you share with your students through an announcement and/or your syllabus that a library eBook is available.

If you'd like to ensure a book is available and on our purchase list, instructors can always contact us directly to request a book for a course. Purchasing new eBooks can take several weeks, so if you have an eBook purchasing request you must submit them well before the start of term if you need them to be available for the first day of classes.

eBook Licenses and Limitations

When libraries purchase eBooks, they purchases licenses that govern how library users can access the book. There are two main types of licenses libraries purchase when they buy eBooks: unlimited licenses and limited licenses. When we purchase books for use in courses we always attempt to buy unlimited access eBooks.

If we purchase an eBook for one of your courses, we'll let you know what type of license the eBooks has and what that means for student access.

 An unlimited license means that an unlimited number of students can access an eBook simultaneously. According to the University of Arizona, about 20% of titles are available to libraries with unlimited licenses.

Sometimes publishers do not sell unlimited licenses to libraries, and the only option is to purchase a limited license. If too many students try to access the a limited license eBook at the same time, some will be denied access. If we notice that lots of students are trying to access a book, we'll attempt to buy additional copies, but it may take a few days.

So what does this mean for you and your students? In many cases students won't access the book concurrently, so we'll be able to keep up for demand on the book, but if students want guaranteed access at all times they should consider purchasing the book. This can be an issue if you need all students to use the book in class or during open book exams.