Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
library banner

Quick Kit for SCC Faculty Pivoting to Online: Free e-textbooks during COVID-19

SCC Faculty Guide to Teaching Online

Free Online Textbooks

Free Online Textbooks - Available Now!

In response to widespread college closures, several companies are temporarily providing free access to their textbook platforms through the end May or early July.

New publishers are being added to these platforms every day, but not all textbooks will be available. 

  • Contacting a textbook publisher directly to ask about free access during this time may be worthwhile if you don't easily find an ebook your students need.
  • If you encounter any impediments to locating ebooks on these platforms, you may contact an SCC librarian for support. We're learning more each time we search a platform.


Accessing free textbooks requires that students create a free account using their SCC email. If a student doesn't know their SCC email, they may contact IT support.

Free e-textbooks & learning resources: Platforms & lists

Our Cengage representative provided the instructions below which students can use to create a free, 14-day trial ebooks on Cengage Unlimited. The trial can be extended: "At the end of your trial, click Start Trial to regain access for another fourteen days, as long as your school is  affected by COVID-19."

null   A long list of publishers have made additional ebooks available in the SCC Library's eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) database.

   Students need only login using their usual SCC network login to access.

There are new publishers contributing free textbooks all the time. Consult these list if you're interested to see which are providing free learning resources during this time.

VitalSource connections may be intermittent. If you are unable to connect, you may try at another time or try an alternate portal:


Make a VitalSource Account
VitalSource is providing temporary free textbook access through May 25, 2020. You can access up to 7 free online textbooks.

Registration Instructions:

  1. Go to and create a VitalSource account using your SCC email address
  2. Check your email account for a verification email.
  3. Click the link in your email to finish signing up.
  4. Once you're signed in, click on the link for your book, or search for your book in the search bar at the top of the screen.
  5. Click on the picture of the book, and then click "borrow."
  6. You'll see a notification that reads "This book has been added to My Library." Click "Open Book" to read your book. There are options to print, bookmark, and virtually highlight the pages. There is also an app available, which you can learn about on the site.
  7. You're all set! Just log in to your account whenever you need access to your textbook.

Need help? Watch the Getting Started With Bookshelf video or check the VitalSource Bookshelf Support page for more information.  SCC Libraries cannot provide detailed technical support for VitalSource itself, but we can guide you in accessing them.

Remember you can Ask a Librarian for help any time.

While RedShelf ebooks are only available to institutions who are on a semester schedule (not the quarter schedule that SCC/SFCC are on) librarians have used it to discover e-textbooks, then we sometimes contact the book publisher directly.

Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is always available, but the number of simultaneous loans of an item are usually limited. During this time, they are providing unlimited simultaneous borrowers and suspending wait lists for the collection of over 1.4 million ebooks. This measure will be in place until June 30, 2020.

Note: When you borrow an ebook from the Internet Archive, it will say that it is due in 14 days. You will be able to extend the due date until June 30, 2020, so that you can have access to the ebook for the entire Spring semester. See the FAQs for more information about access.


CC BY This guide is licensed CC BY 4.0. You are free to copy, transform, and redistribute this material in any medium or format without asking permission. The content of this page was  adapted from Glendale Community College Library Updates (CC BY 4.0)