Open Educational Resources and BTAA

The concept of Open Educational Resources (OER) lies in the spirit of public domain, or the availability of intellectual property.  The public domain statute in the US offers books free to the public with no copyrights associated if they were published 96 years ago or earlier.  OER initiatives advocate for access and transparency of published content for the benefit of fellow researchers and affiliated stakeholders and can also offer intellectual property licenses for members in some instances.  University library systems offer outstanding platforms for new OER initiatives because they often function as a previously-established base of operations and a portal for storing content as well as knowledge and experience of a staff in information science.

Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) member institution Ohio State University has been at the forefront of OER initiatives and recently has been collaborating with German publishing house De Gruyter to publish and organize university-related content, where corresponding authors associated with OSU can publish at no cost, with De Gruyter coordinating the access for campus stakeholders.  This OER agreement lasts for three years, and consortium journals associated with De Gruyter also become available through their agreed-upon common causes license, an agreement in which authors don’t give up copyright of their materials but instead agree to share their original content with members.

In August 2023, six member institutions of the BTAA (including Purdue University) launched a collaborative endeavor called the Big Ten Open Books, a shared library of open access scholarly monographs. This initiative includes open monographs, published on an open infrastructure, using an open distribution model. Representing more than 50,000 faculty across the six universities, the BTAA advocates for an open and sustainable scholarly ecosystem

In September 2023, under the coordination of the BTAA, Northwestern University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Minnesota announced the launch of their Open Educational Resources initiative.  Through this endeavor, a shared digital learning platform will be jointly developed and subsequently become available across campuses, where students can access course materials such as shared textbooks through this system.  This OER initiative is designed so that faculty can develop and publish curriculum and materials with vastly reduced textbook costs for students and other stakeholders, thus bypassing traditional and costly publishing houses, whose new editions of textbooks can often cost upwards of $400. 

Purdue University was the first member institution of the Open Education Network, a university-based consortium with the aim of advancing OER.  The Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies is actively promoting student affordability initiatives, including purchasing library-licensed ebooks, and supporting faculty who wish to rebuild their courses to include open—and free—course materials for students.  In October 2023, Purdue researchers were awarded a $26.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a data-driven open knowledge network as part of their Building the Prototype Open Knowledge Network, “an interconnected network of knowledge graphs supporting a very broad range of application domains”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “higher education shall be equally accessible to all.  In accordance with this declaration, the OER philosophy was celebrated by libraries across the globe through International Open Access Week from October 23-27, 2023.

Nina Collins, Scholarly Publishing Librarian, Presenting “OER Workshop: Access, Affordability, Inclusion, and Academic Success” during International Open Access Week

A special thanks to the following for contributions:

The Big Ten Academic Alliance.  Big Ten Open Books.  About | Big Ten Open Books

The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern and Evanston’s only daily news source since 1881.  Big Ten Academic Alliance seeks to ensure equity with Open Educational Resources

The Ohio State University.  Health Sciences Library.  Open Access and Public Support.  Open Access and Publication Support | Health Sciences Library (

Purdue University.  Libraries and School of Information Studies.  Open Access Publishing Partnerships: Information and resources on open access journal, publishing, and funding.  Home – Open Access Publishing Partnerships – Research Guides at Purdue University Libraries