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Zero Cost (OER) & Low Cost Textbook Classes: 5 Steps to Zero (OER) & Low Cost

Step 1: Commit

Decide to teach a Zero Cost or Low Cost Textbook Class!

There are numerous ways to create a course that is Zero Cost or Low Cost.

  • Zero Cost --> All course materials are free and available online. 
  • Low Cost --> Total course materials are $50 or less.
  • Copyright free materials - can be distributed to students by providing the URL, uploading a PDF, and is available for printing at the bookstore for a low cost by student request (must be copyright free, public domain, or have a cc license, etc...).
  • Copyright restricted - students can purchase the original publication or the instructor can provide access through a URL. Uploading a saved document and bookstore printing is prohibited. 


Step 2: Build your Course

OER and Instructor Created Teaching Materials:

  1. Identify the materials you want to teach with
  2. Locate the copyright license. 
  3. If you found teaching materials on the OER Course Material tab, they are open access and copyright free use/public domain.
  4. If you created your own course materials, use the Teaching with Material you Create tab on this guide to create a Creative Commons License.


  1. If you found other teaching materials online or elsewhere
  2. Refer to the copyright laws accordingly and see the example in the section below--- Examples with Identifying Copyright
  3. If an item is listed as public domain, there is no rights reserved and you may use the item in your course.
  4. The bookstore will only print items (by student request) that are legally licensed to be used and shared. 
  5. If you are using an item that is restricted by copyright law:

a.  You may provide the students with the link/url for online access

b.  Do not upload the item as a saved document or pdf to distribute to students

c.  You must still list each item on the bookstore form to notify them of all course materials being used.


Examples with Identifying Copyright

  1. Instructor wants to use The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
  2. Google search the story of an hour kate chopin pdf - this produces a link with a free online pdf
  3. The instructor should examine the document and look for copyright information
  4. It's clearly listed as: Copyright © by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. All rights reserved. Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” originally published 1894
  5. Navigate to a copyright law website
  6. Read that anything published before 1924 is in public domain due to copyright expiration. 
  7. Instructor should list this item on the bookstore form as a course material and printable item by student request
  8. The instructor can provide the source as a link or save and upload the pdf document for student use.

If this item was restricted by copyright law (not in public domain):

  1. The instructor will still list this on the bookstore form but it will not be available for printing (by student request)
  2. The instructor can share the link/url with students for access but should not upload the item as a saved document/pdf.

Copyright Laws

Cornell University Library - Copyright Information Center

Copyright Laws of the United States

Fair Use Checklist Tool

Step 3: Identify your Course as Low or Zero Cost during Registration & in the Schedule of Classes

  1. The instructor will gain approval from their department chair for the course materials they will teach with. 
  2. The instructor submits the required information on course materials using the LAHC Bookstore RedShelf website. Instructions for this is provided below on step 4. 
  3. The division chair will identify all ZCTC-OER or LCTC courses then:
    • Submit a request to Academic Affairs during the regular scheduling process.
    • Or submit a schedule change request (SCR) to add an Associated Class Attribute for Class Search Type ZCTC-OER.
  4. The division chair should add a Class Note (for students that may not know how to search for ZCTC or LCTC or know what it is during online registration) such as:
    1. This is a Zero Cost Textbook Class - (OER).
    2. This is a Low Cost Textbook Class, all course materials are $50 or less.
  5. This procedure should be checked every semester and updated as needed.
  6. Students will now be able to view and select classes that are listed as ZCTC-OER or LCTC during online registration from the drop down menu.
  7. Students will now see a ZCTC-OER or LCTC image symbol next to the course in the pdf/print schedule of classes.
  • To expedite, simply include the deans on any communication and they can contact Lori Minor to make the changes directly into the system.
  • If the schedule is live, SCR would be the proper process but may take longer.

Step 4: Bookstore Requisition Form

All course materials must be submitted through the LAHC Bookstore RedShelf website.

Instructions on submitting information about OER and Zero Cost materials can be found in the pdf below: 

Course Readers are available through the bookstore by request:

A Course Reader is a compilation of course materials such as URL's, PDF documents, instructor created content, etc... that will be complied into one printed item for student purchase. The cost is to be determined by each submission and can vary greatly, possibly taking a course out of the LCTC category. Items listed should be copyright free, public domain, or CC licensed. If copyright restrictions exists, only 10% of copyright restricted item may be included in the Course Reader. 

Step 5: COR Information

If you are using a official (textbook equivalent) OER materials you should add this information to the COR and have it linked to the bookstore repository list (that you should have submitted in Step 4 above).

Materials must be published within seven years. Exceptions include "classic texts" or "discipline texts" and should be noted as such in the COR. Lab science courses must include a lab manual. 

Bonus Step!

Continue to self educate and participate in professional development for you discipline by viewing the resources from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC).