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Unisa's Partner Public Libraries: "Open" or "Free" Resources for the Reference Desk

This guides provides information and resources relevant to the Unisa Public Partner Libraries who serve Unisa students as well as members in their community

"Open" or "Free" Resources to Assist you at the Reference Desk

You will have come across terms such as Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER). 

Both are of immense value to the public library when assisting patrons.

Open Access (OA) refers to freely available content permanently online such as scholarly articles and journals.

These resources can be reused and there is some scope for alteration.

OER, on the other hand, encourages remixing and redistibution of the resource and covers a much wider range of materials.

The infographic below explains the difference between open education resources and open access

Sourced from: University of Michigan OER Toolkit

There are a number of freely available open access dictionaries.

See below:  

Encyclopaedias / encyclopedias provide a broad introduction to a particular topic with further links and references to more specific information. 

Take a look at the following open access encyclopedias:

There is a significant number of quality open access journals covering various disciplines.

Take a look:

The following provide access to a number of open access textbooks and books covering various disciplines.  Please note there is very little African / South African content.

Take a look and see what you can potentially use:

The following sites contain excellent images which you may wish to incorporate into your lessons. Make sure that you check the conditions of use in terms of the Creative Commons License. 

The following are further useful sites which you can use.  Please remember that some of these sites may need to adapted to the African and South African context. 

Image Source


Public and Community Libraries play a major role in education.  The library guide on Open Educational Resources & Open Access for South African School Teachers / Educators may be useful when assisting school teachers from the community.  

Important sites on this library guide include:

Creative Commons Licenses govern the use of Open Educational Resources.

The link at Creative Commons Licences provides an overview.