Open Access, Creative Commons, And Public Domain Materials


open access logoOpen Access publishing provides online access to scholarly research which is:
Free – the end user does not have to pay any subscriptions or fees to read the full text
Unrestricted – the reuse permissions allow the author and the end user to make full and free use of the material. They can view, download, print, copy, share, and create derivative works from the material, as long as they credit the original author.

cc logo

Creative Commons licensed (CC) works may be copied, edited, and re-purposed under the terms of the licenses. To learn more about license requirements, please read Creative Commons Licenses. 

pd logoPublic Domain works may  be used without seeking the copyright holder’s permission or paying a license fee  because they are not covered by copyright law.


Most college and university online databases are not free to the public. Users must provide their login credentials to access those resources. However, you can find online scholarly journals that are “open access” on the web. If you are looking for an image, text excerpt, map, music score excerpt, photograph, movie, etc. for your research paper or presentation, you could use works in the public domain or works covered by a Creative Commons (CC) license. Below are some examples of open access, public domain, Creative Commons licensed works.


ACS Publications Editor’s Choice: List of peer-reviewed research articles from ACS journals selected by ACS editors and made available for free.

BioMed Central: Open Access scholarly journals in biosciences.

BMJ Open: Open access articles on medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas.

Digital Commons Network: Full text access to journals.

NIMH: An extensive and growing collection of our NIMH’s statistics on the prevalence, treatment and costs of mental disorders; includes sections on mental health-related disability and on suicide.

Oxford Open: List of fully open access journals in science.

Philpaper: Open access archive in philosophy.

PLoS: Public Library of Science: Open access scientific and medical literature.

PubMed: Large biomedical database maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

Sage Open: Open access journal with original research and review articles in an interactive, open access format. Articles span the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences as well as the humanities.

Books, Textbooks, and Educational Resources

Academic Earth: A resource of video recordings of lectures held at various universities around the country. No other course materials are offered.

Applied Math & Science Educational Repository: Although math and science are in the title, this repository of online educational content offers resources in a variety of other disciplines, including vocational education and health.

BookBoon: BookBoon provides textbooks in Finance, Management and Organization, Marketing and Media, and Strategy. The books can be downloaded for free but do contain some minimal advertising.

Connexions: This resources allows instructors to pull from a range of learning objects and organize the material to create their own courses. It offers textbooks, journal articles, learning objects, and assignments. Once organized, the material can be viewed as either a PDF or EPUBS document for distribution to students.

FlatWorld KnowledgeA resource for open access or fair priced textbooks. 

Folger Digital Texts: A digital collection of Shakespeare’s works.

Free eBooks: The Ultimate Guide: Guide to collections of free eBooks.

Global Textbook Project: An international initiative, Global Textbook Project seeks to provide access to free, quality textbooks to students in developing nations.

Khan Academy: This resource offers open educational resources primarily in mathematics and science but has expanded to include other subject areas. These 3,000 plus online videos are self paced and allow students to focus on the specific lessons they need help with.

ManyBooks: A digital library of more than 29,000 ebooks on various topics.

Manuscript and Rare Books: This site holds 900 illuminated manuscripts, 1,250 of the first printed books (ca. 1455 – 1500), and an important collection of post-1500 deluxe editions, this extraordinary collection chronicles the art of the book over more than 1,000 years. The collection is from all over the world, and from ancient to modern times. It features deluxe Gospel books from Armenia, Ethiopia, Byzantium, and Ottonian Germany, French and Flemish books of hours, as well as masterpieces of Safavid, Mughal and Ottoman manuscript illumination.

Merlot: This massive resource offers access to learning objects, full course curricula, open access journals, assessment tools, open textbooks, discipline-specific pedagogical resources, and more. Material is peer reviewed, and reviewer and user comments are accessible to all.

MIT OpenCourseWare: Offers approximately 2,000 courses in a range of disciplines, which include lecture notes, online textbook material, assignments and exams with answers, and multimedia. The course content is downloadable, with the exception of the video materials, through iTunes.

MITx. These MIT course are open to everyone and include recorded lectures, course material, and assessments

National Academies Press: Most books published by the National Academies Press can be downloaded for free in PDF format. Just find the book you want, bypass the print price, and click the “Download Free PDF” button. This site requires that you provide a name and e-mail address.

Open Course Library The 42 courses that are currently available are designed to be used primarily by faculty, who can than integrate any or all elements of the syllabus, lessons, discussion topics, readings, and assignments they feel are appropriate. Some courses offer links to free outside readings and textbooks, others recommend textbooks that cost no more than $30. Open Course Library offers downloadable files in Common Cartridge and ANGEL, which are compatible with other course management systems.

Open Educational Resources Commons: Searchable open access repository of educational resources.

Open Library: A digital library of over 100,000 ebooks including classic literature.

Project Gutenberg: A digital library of over 45,000 free ebooks.

LibreTexts project: This is a multi-institutional collaborative venture to develop the next generation of open-access texts to improve postsecondary education at all levels of higher learning.

Saylor Foundation: This resource offers complete, freely accessible packages for college-level courses in business, science, math, engineering, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Smarthistory: This is a free multimedia web-book for art history.

Theses and Dissertations

Digital Commons Network: Full-text access to 125,000 theses and dissertations.

Dissertations and Theses (PQDT Open): Full text, open access dissertations and theses in all academic disciplines from ProQuest’s UMI Dissertation Publishing.

ETD Center – OhioLINK: Full-text electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) from several universities and colleges across Ohio have been deposited in the Center, which makes the ETDs freely available to all.  You can search by subject (e.g. occupational therapy) or granting university.

NDLTD: Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations: An international collaborative effort, the NDLTD Union Catalog contains more than one million records of electronic theses and dissertations, and promotes open access publishing of these documents.

Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations: An index of 1.5 ETDs. OATD stores the first 30 pages of the documents, not the full text.

Open thesis: A free repository of theses, dissertations, and other academic documents from around the world.

Worldwide ETD Index: A global index of freely available electronic theses and dissertations, provided by major ETD collections around the world. Search by author, title, and abstract information.  It does not search the full text of the ETDs.



Moving Image Archive: A large collection of movies, films and videos that are all free to use.

The Open Video Project: A repository of open access digitized videos for education and learning purposes.


Flickr: Creative Commons: A collection of images published on Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

Getty’s Open Content Program: A wonderful collection of more than 4,500 images released under an open license in August 2013.

NY Public Library Digital Gallery: Open access to over 700,000 digital images from the new York Public Library’s collections.

OpenGLAM Collections: List of openly licensed datasets from several cultural institutions. All collections provide digital scans or photos that can be freely used without any restrictions.

U.S. Government Photos and Images: A vast collection of photos and images from the U.S. Government, many of which are in the public domain and free to use.

Music Scores

African American Sheet Music: 1850-1920: This collection consists of 1,305 pieces of African-American sheet music. It is part of the Library of Congress American Memory series of digital collections.

Choral Public Domain Library: CPDL is one of the world’s largest free sheet music sites. You can use CPDL to find scores, texts, translations and information about composers.

Eastman School of Music, Sibley Music Library Digital Scores Online: This sites provides access to scores and books in the public domain, many of which are unique to the Sibley Music Library collection.

International Music Scores Library (IMSLP): A virtual library containing all public domain musical scores, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge.

Music for the American Nation: Sheet Music 1870-1885: This collection consists of over 47,000 pieces of sheet music and includes popular songs, piano music, sacred and secular choral music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and music for band and orchestra. This is part of the Library of Congress American Memory series of digital collections.

Musical Theatre Scores: A digital project of University of Illinois, this collection includes opera and musical theatre scores (G&S, Kern, Sousa, Herbert) from the University of Illinois (Access through Internet Archive).

Sheet Music Consortium: This site searches the digital sheet music collections of UCLA, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University and Duke University.

The Aria Databases: This database includes basic information on each aria, translations for many arias and aria texts for those that are not affected by copyright restrictions.

Music Resources

Classical Archives: One of the largest and best collections of classical music, this site also has information about each of the composers and their works.

Classical Net: This site offers a comprehensive collection of information and news on classical music subjects. The site now features more than 9,000 files of information including thousands of CD, Book, Concert, DVD and Blu-ray reviews and more than 5,500 links to other classical music sites.

Free Music Archive: The Free Music Archive is a curated library of free & legal music that wants to be shared, presented by a group of established audio curators.

International Jazz Collections: This collection includes papers and recordings of jazz great, Lionel Hampton, and jazz critic/historian Leonard Feather. Other smaller collections include Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams and others.

Music Treasures Consortium: This Library of Congress site website gives online access to some of the world’s most valued music manuscripts and print materials, held at the most renowned music archives, in order to further research and scholarship.

Songs of America: The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country’s greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. From popular and traditional songs, to poetic art songs and sacred music, the relationship of song to historical events from the nation’s founding to the present is highlighted through more than 80,000 online items. The user can listen to digitized recordings, watch performances of artists interpreting and commenting on American song, and view sheet music, manuscripts, and historic copyright submissions online. The site also includes biographies, essays and curated content, interactive maps, a timeline and teaching resources offering context and expert analysis to the source material.

Teoría: An interactive resource for learning basic concepts of music theory and ear training.



Government Information and Resources

Government Information and Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics (US): The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor is the principal federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions and price changes in the economy. Its mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making.

Bureau of Economic Analysis (US): The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) promotes a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing the most timely, relevant and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner.

Bureau of Prison: This website provides statistical data on federal prison populations by gender, race, ethnicity, age and other demographic characteristics.

Catalog of US Government Publications: Federal publications that include descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online.

Census Bureau (US): This is the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy A one-stop shop for data provided by the US government. Includes raw and geospatial datasets.

FedStats: From the Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy, this website provide easy online access to the full range of statistics and information produced by scores of federal agencies for public use.

FedWorld: Central information network of the U.S. federal government, with searchable access to agencies and departments, documents, databases, etc. — a comprehensive site for searching for, locating, ordering and acquiring government and business information.

Federal Digital System: From the U.S. Government Printing Office, identifies public information resources within the three branches of the federal government (including electronic information resources), describes the information available in these resources, and assists in obtaining the information.

Freedom of Information Act: From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, this website facilitates access to U.S. government information in executive branch agency records, either through the Electronic Reading Room or by inquiry directly to the National Archives and Records Administration.

Gifts of Speech: Women’s Speeches from Around the World: This website promotes free access to and preservation of speeches of inspirational and influential women from around the world. Directory for U.S. federal, state and local websites, including courts. Free online service to track activities in the U.S. Congress such as the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records in the Senate and House of Representatives and information on Members of Congress.

National Archives-Online Research Tools and Aids: From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration of the U.S. government, a guide to finding online federal records and information about them, including from Presidential Libraries.

Occupational Outlook Handbook | US Bureau of Labor Statistics: The profiles featured here cover hundreds of occupations and describe What They Do, Work Environment, How to Become One, Pay and more. Each profile also includes BLS employment projections for the 2010–20 decade. Searches millions of Web pages of executive agencies, independent agencies and state and local levels.

United States Government Manual: Searchable official information source about the agencies of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Video and image sources. Large official United States government Web portal offering easy access to all online U.S. federal, state and local government resources, by various means of approach. Excellent source for such information, with tutorials.