March 1-5 is Open Education Week, an international observation that aims to raise awareness about the positive impact of open education on teaching and learning worldwide. Open education is comprised of resources, tools and practices created through the use of free and openly licensed materials.

These materials, known as Open Educational Resources (OER), allow users to freely access, use, edit, and share with no or limited restrictions. OER can be any materials used in teaching, such as textbooks, slide decks, assessments, or whole courses. Not only do OER help relieve the burden of the high cost of commercial textbooks, but they have been shown to increase student success, especially those from traditionally underserved populations, like minorities and first-generation students. 

To mark Open Education Week, the Cabell Screen presents an exhibit sharing dozens of images shared with Creative Commons licenses (the most commonly used open licenses). This means that you are free to use and share the images without permission—although we recommend double checking the license of specific images for other restrictions. The exhibit also includes images in the public domain, a term used to describe works that are not protected by copyright or whose copyright protection has expired. Anyone can use works in the public domain for any purpose without needing to get permission. The exhibit showcases just a small selection of VCU Libraries’ open access and public domain resources, as well as images from educational resources and works of scholarship created by members of the VCU community. All are freely accessible to those at VCU and around the world. 

To learn more about what VCU Libraries and others are doing to celebrate Open Education Week, visit

Open Educational Resources
Digital Histology is a digital atlas of histology with extensive descriptive text, developed by the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, the School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Affairs, and the VCU ALT Lab. This resource (including the selected images included in the Cabell Screen exhibit) is shared with a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. The Digital Histology project team is also one of the recipients of a VCU Affordable Course Content Award.

VCU Scholars Compass
VCU Scholars Compass is a publishing platform for the intellectual output of VCU’s academic, research and administrative communities. Its goal is to provide wide and stable access to the exemplary work of VCU’s faculty, researchers, students and staff. Included in this exhibit are:

VCU Libraries Digital Scholarship
VCU Libraries’ publishing capabilities include web-based projects developed in partnership with scholars and other subject matter experts, alongside preservation of underlying datasets in our repository. This Cabell Screen exhibit includes selections of images from two digital scholarship projects.

The Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive includes over 300 photographs taken by noted environmentalist Newton Ancarrow from 1968 to 1971 along the banks of the James River, and shared with a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

The Social Welfare History Project Image Portal brings together photographs, pamphlets, artifacts and documents chronicling the history of the nation’s response to human need, drawn from the collections of VCU Libraries and other participating institutions. The images included in this exhibit are in the public domain:

VCU Libraries Digital Collections
Our Digital Collections are primarily materials from VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives, and range in subject matter from African-American history in Virginia to Richmond’s past and present, from the comic and cartooning arts to the history of VCU, from medical artifacts to oral histories.

The exhibit includes several photographs from the Farmville 1963 Civil Rights Protests, when protestors, including dozens of Black high school age students, used an array of protest tactics to draw attention to racial discrimination in Farmville, Virginia, the county seat of Prince Edward County. The 491 public domain photographs in this collection were taken by an amateur photographer hired by the Farmville Police Department, which intended to use them in court proceedings as evidence against any protesters who were arrested.

Other Digital Collections images included in the exhibit are:

VCU Libraries Flickr 
VCU Libraries also shares images from our collections through Flickr to promote their discovery and use. Images from three albums are included in the exhibit:

VCU Libraries Tumblr
VCU Libraries also shares images from our collections through Tumblr, including these public domain images included in the Cabell Screen exhibit:

  • Smith & Anthony Co. trade card for Hub Ranges “exclusively used by the Boston and New York Cooking Schools,” ca. 1894. Part of the Charles E. Brownell Collection of Architectural and Decorative Arts Ephemera.
  • Allen & Ginter trade card advertising “Our Little Beauties Cigarettes” die-cut trade cards. Part of the Charles E. Brownell Collection of Architectural and Decorative Arts Ephemera.
  • Cover of Choice Recipes: Sauer’s Famous Flavoring Extracts. Available in VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives, TX 715. C5 1915. 
Categories Collections, Digital Collections, Open Educational Resources