Answered By: Priscilla Coulter
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2023     Views: 35

APUS Engage has some excellent advice for choosing OERs and integrating them into your course lessons This FAQ is meant to give a little extra guidance for faculty who are searching for OERs in the APUS Trefry Library.

Don't forget:

  • Librarians can help you with your OER searches.  Email us with your course ID/name, a list of weekly topics, any source type preferences and a timeline:
  • When you have identified OERs that you would like to adopt for your course, be sure to notify the Course Materials team, so that they can check licensing/copyright and set up your course e-reserves for you: Use the Resource/Book List Submission Form provided on the Faculty Course Materials Services guide.

Where to begin

The Everything search box (aka Primo), which you'll find on the library's homepage, searches most of the library's subscription databases at once, along with many open-access sources, making it a great place to begin your OER search.  It will help you discover all kinds of source types, including bookspeer-reviewed journal articles and even videos.  You can use its filters to narrow your search by date, and quickly generate citations.

Here are the librarians' tips to help you search for OERs efficiently in Primo:

Search terms

Well-chosen keywords are the most important part of any search.  As you search for readings and resources that are appropriate for your course, keep in mind:

Publication date

APUS courses should use required readings that are no more than 3 years old, unless academically necessary.  You can filter out most older materials quickly in Primo by using the publication date filter on the left side of your results page or on the right side of the advanced search screen.


  • Be sure to use the "remember all filters" option to keep your date limit in place as you try different keyword searches.
  • Because some resources, like ebooks, may have multiple dates associated with them (original publication date, date published online, etc.); it's a good idea to double-check the date again when you access the item's full text to be sure it was originally published within the 3-year range.
  • If you've found a relevant article or book that's older than 3 years, try checking for publications that have cited it.  They'll be more recent and may be equally relevant to your course objectives.

Available online

Add the "available online" filter to make sure that the items in your search results are all fully available online in our library's collection.  The course materials team ( or the librarians ( can help you format permalinks to library resources.

Diverse source types

Consider a variety of source types to engage your students with their weekly topics.  Primo has a large number of "source type" filters on the left side of the results screen.  You can also use keywords to help you pinpoint types of sources (see "targeted searching" here).

  • Books are often great for broad overviews, making them ideal for courses introducing complex topics.
  • Review articles can make a good substitute for a textbook in upper-level courses, providing a broader overview than many research studies.
  • Research studies show theory and research in action.
  • Newspaper articles can provide current events and firsthand accounts.
  • Videos might better engage our more visual learners.

Remember that you may need to adjust your keywords as you target specific types of sources.  Books tend to be broader in scope, so you might have better luck with broader keywords.  Articles tend to be focused on more specific subjects, so may need narrower keywords.

Generate a citation

Save yourself a little time by using Primo's citation generator to copy a quick citation in the appropriate style.  Be sure to double-check it for errors and use the library's style guide to correct them before posting them in your syllabus or classroom.

Other OER sites

Visit the open access guide to explore additional sources of OER textbooks and learning resources.



Have questions about your course readings?
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