Month: March 2020

Supporting Students Through Open and Affordable Course Materials

As we move forward to the semester ahead of fully online classes and the educational community responds to COVID-19, you may be receiving emails from vendors offering limited-time free access to their tools and platforms. We encourage instructors to explore open textbook or library-licensed e-book textbook alternatives during this transition to online teaching, which are always free or affordable. 

Please remember that students may be experiencing greater financial stress than usual if they’re not able to work due to the coronavirus. You might want to consider investing your time in trying resources and tools that will continue to be free to you and your students after the crisis is over. These options will increase first-day access to required course materials and save students time and money during this stressful time. According to our 2017 survey, 72% of FSU students do not purchase textbooks due to cost and 93% prefer a free online textbook over a traditional print option. 

Subject librarians are available to work with instructors to locate open or already licensed content in order to save students money and ease the pedagogical burdens of the current situation. If you are interested in adopting a library e-book for your course, please consult your subject librarian so we can check on the resource license as not all of our e-books are available for multi user simultaneous usage. 


From Guilia Forsythe, Flickr

Open Educational Resources & Open Textbooks 

Open educational resources (OER) are freely-accessible, openly licensed textbooks, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching and learning. OER can be reused, customized, and widely shared by others. Many courses at FSU already utilize open textbooks including CHM1045. Our top suggestions for open textbooks include:

  • Openstax: Peer-reviewed, open textbooks on introductory topics. Students can buy print copies. See their blog post on Teaching online with OpenStax to support emerging social distancing requirements. OpenStax has quiz banks, slides, and other ancillaries freely available for instructors who sign up with them. OpenStax Allies offer competitively-priced homework platforms that work with OpenStax books, and many of them are waiving costs right now.
  • Open Textbook Library : Read peer reviews and access open textbooks being used across the world.
  • OER Commons: Public library of open educational resources wit platform for content authoring & remixing.
  • BC Campus OpenEd: Search for quality open textbooks offered in a variety of digital formats.
  •  Lumen Learning: Offers a wide array of open content that you can access for free. Their Waymaker and OHM modules are low-cost homework platforms that can be integrated with Canvas

Don’t use a standalone textbook? Many instructors chose to use a mix of open resources to support their curriculum instead of just one open textbook. Sources include TED Talks, online news articles from publications such as The Guardian, government information such as, and other high-quality information available online. Some instructors also use Open Scholarly Monographs as educational resources in their course, which carry the same open licenses.

  • Mason MetaFinder: Search engine that includes a variety of open materials for those looking to mix content and recently added 1.4 million + books from the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library.
  • OASIS: Search tool for open content from 97 different sources and contains 385,629 records of textbooks, modules, videos, podcasts, primary resources and more.

Library-licensed E-books, Articles, and Online Resources for the Classroom 

Library-licensed material expands the amount of materials available for higher-level coursework and complements other OER materials. Many faculty at FSU have opted to adopt e-books, journal articles, videos, images, and other digital resources from our collection. If you are interested in browsing our immense online collection for course materials, here are a couple of our search tools:

OneSearch: Search through many resources at once using our OneSearch tool. Whether you are looking for an e-book or searching broadly by subject or keyword, OneSearch is a great place to start your searching. OneSearch is also a good place to find items by citation – just paste the citation right into the search box.

Databases A-Z List: If you know which database you are looking for, use this list to find the specific database by title.

Databases by Subject List: Our subject librarians have selected the top databases for each subject in this list, helping identify the top resources for each subject.

Journal Search: This tool allows you to find journals by title or subject.

Streaming Media: Showing films in online courses requires some additional planning. We are happy to share that FSU Libraries provide access to multiple video platforms. If you are interested in using our streaming media resources in your online courses, please check out our Streaming Media in Your Course guide for tips on finding streaming resources and streaming models that best suit your course material needs.

FSU Libraries is committed to developing open and affordable solutions that will ease the burden of textbook costs. Affordable course materials are going to be more important to students than ever. Find out more about FSU Libraries Open and Affordable Textbook Initiative.

If interested in exploring open and affordable options for your course, please contact Camille Thomas at or Lindsey Wharton at

A Visit to Panama

By Lindsey Wharton, Extended Campus & Distance Services Librarian, & Michael Pritchard, Distance Services Library Associate

In February 2020, members of the FSU Libraries were hosted by the Florida State University – Panama campus in an effort to strengthen our partnership with the Panama students, faculty and staff. Our visit provided us the opportunity to promote library resources and services as well as learn about the teaching and learning experiences, both academic and culturally, of our students, staff, and faculty abroad. While Lindsey Wharton, the Extended Campus & Distance Services Librarian, had visited the Panama campus previously in 2014 and 2016, this was the first visit for both Michael Pritchard, Distance Library Services Specialist, and Dr. Gale Etschmaier, Dean of University Libraries. This campus visit marked an important occurrence for University Libraries and FSU Panama, as all were excited to reconnect with colleagues, work with the students, and introduce Dr. Etschmaier to the campus. 

Panama is a lush tropical country with what seems like a perpetual warm sea breeze & blooming landscape. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and it is easy to imagine just settling down into a happy and colorful life in the growing city. From Panama Viejo to Casco Viejo to the ever changing high-rise business district, the city is layered with culture and stories and histories. 

Florida State University Panama houses and educates both First Year Abroad students as well as a growing population of local Panamanian and Central & South American students who study at FSU Panama. Thanks to the 2 + 2 program offered in conjunction with Florida State University, International Programs, and Florida State University – Panama, students who are academically successful during their initial 2 years at the FSU Panama campus are able to transfer to the main campus in Tallahassee and pay in-state tuition. In addition, FSU Panama enjoys the benefits of being housed within the Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge), a shared campus of innovation and discovery housed in Panama City, Panama. The Ciudad del Saber sits across from the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal. It is quite difficult to describe this hub of creativity and wisdom; to see this culmination of planning and innovation, and watch massive barges and ships be lifted up and down is quite a magnificent experience . This prime location allows students to be able to choose to live in what are essentially on-campus dormitories, park and walk safely to class, eat at La Plaza (the local food court at the Ciudad del Saber), and — most importantly — access the FSU Panama library. 

The three of us began our visit bright and early, a necessity to avoid the scorching Central American sun and the lively Panama City traffic. We met with FSU Panama librarian Anthony Blackie at his office for a tour of the 50,000 volume library. This collection is the largest English language collection in all of Panama and contains several unique and specialized items on the history of the canal and the country’s unique relationship with the United States. We discussed the space and the collection, the changes and updates since the last visit by our library team, and ideas for growth. Some of these discussions included flexible seating and study locations, safe and secure internet access, physical resource availability and check-out processes, gender-inclusive restrooms and spaces, and the potential for space redevelopment and expansion. We were also able to speak to some of the student workers at the circulation desk and gain insight on working in our libraries abroad. Following this tour and introduction, we met with Dr. Carlos Langoni, Rector of FSU Panama, and Dr. Alexandra Anyfanti, Vice Rector for Academic affairs, to discuss the multitude of opportunities that exist for collaboration between FSU Libraries and FSU Panama and the short- and long-term goals of the campus. 


FSU Panama Librarian, Anthony Blackie, introduces the FSU Panama Library to Dean Gale Etschmaier

The FSU Panama team had coordinated and promoted a Lunch-and-Learn session, providing Lindsey and Michael an opportunity to present a library workshop to an audience of students, faculty, and staff. During this time for research guidance, open discussion, and critical thinking, Lindsey and Michael gave an overview of the resources and support that FSU Libraries offers our students studying around the globe.. Additionally, we hosted an open Meet and Greet with faculty where we focused on the benefits of Open Educational Resources and our IP Alternative Textbook Grant Program. We were also able to provide library instruction to multiple classes, guiding students through the research process and strategies for finding information to support their assignments. Our Libraries’ team received wonderful feedback from students and faculty alike with requests for asynchronous instruction and online library engagement for when we are unable to visit in-person. 


FSU Panama students at the Lunch & Learn session

FSU Panama differentiates itself from the other international campuses as it is our only degree-granting campus and the majority of students are local to Panama and Central America as opposed to American students studying abroad. The students are afforded an intimate university experience at one of the most elite universities in the country. They are an incredibly engaged student population, exemplified in the standing room only lunch and learn workshop. The faculty and staff were excited to discuss University Libraries and engaged with our resources and services. We were blown away by the passion of the instructors, the diligence of the students, and the overall ambition of the FSU Panama team. Anthony Blackie has run the FSU Panama Library for many years as a solo librarian, managing the building and collection, ordering and cataloging items, providing research and reference support, and providing information literacy support to the campus community. Spending time with him was invaluable as maintaining and strengthening our connections with library staff globally further extends the reach of all we have to offer through University Libraries. 

There was something that really set the tone for our visit to Panama, and that was within the very first meeting with Dr. Langoni & Dr. Anyfanti. Gale Etschmaier reflected that the most valuable resource provided by FSU Libraries isn’t our eResources, our almost 900 databases or 1,000,000 eBooks, but our people. Our library staff provides the expertise, the skills, and the creativity to support the campus community, through our collection, our spaces, but also beyond our physical libraries and our traditional services. It’s our team that is the real treasure and these visits to our international and extended campus locations not only allows us to share and promote what we do but it allows us to grow our Libraries’ team. The reality is that our campus partners, our students who engage in library instruction, our faculty who tell students to visit the Libraries – they are all part of our library team, too. The time we spent in FSU Panama was time spent growing our team, taking the mission and vision of University Libraries global. We are lucky to have these inspiring members of our team working so hard to grow the University in beautiful Panama and we look forward to what comes next. 

Lindsey and Michael receive a certificate at FSU Panama

FSU Panama Librarian, Anthony Blackie, presents a certificate to Lindsey & Michael