Affordable Course Materials: Electronic Textbooks and Open Educational Resources

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A College Board survey reports that a student’s average costs of textbooks for a year at a public four-year university is nearly $1,300. Equally worrisome is another study’s finding that two-thirds of students will skip using a textbook because of the cost. By offering and spotlighting affordable course materials, academic libraries can prove their value while helping to create a more equitable learning experience for students. In this book, the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) has gathered its members’ expertise to describe affordable text initiatives that promise to improve student learning and student retention. Topics covered include

  • surprising findings on the most expensive courses for textbook requirements;
  • a case study showing how LSU abandoned DDA, established requirements for e-books collections, and boosted usage to 17,000 unique titles accessed;
  • ways to build on existing procedures and relationships of print reserves to develop e-book collections for courses;
  • how to work productively with campus bookstores;
  • analysis of library programs that offered grants to faculty for developing course texts at UCLA, North Carolina State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi;
  • creating a textbook database so faculty can discover potential textbooks the library already has or could purchase in e-book format;
  • measuring textbook usage through COUNTER reports or course reserve systems; and
  • ideas for partnering with campus instructional technology and distance ed units.

This valuable book demonstrates how librarians can use their collection, licensing, and faculty outreach know-how to help students and their instructors address skyrocketing textbook prices.

Introduction    Collecting the Curriculum

Chapter One    One Size Fits None: The UCLA Library’s Customized Approach to Course Materials
by Sharon E. Farb and Dawn Setzler

Chapter Two    Curriculum-Driven Acquisitions: The University of Arizona Libraries’ Evolving Role in Campus Materials Support
by Jim Martin and Niamh Wallace

Chapter Three    Thinking Outside the Pages: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Atkins Library E-Textbook Program
by Elizabeth Siler

Chapter Four    The Bottom Line: DDA, E-Textbooks, and Student Savings at Louisiana State University Libraries
by Alice Daugherty and Emily Frank

Chapter Five    Textbooks and Course Adoption Materials at New York University Shanghai
by Michael Hughes

Chapter Six    The North Carolina State University Libraries’ Alt-Textbook Project: Open Education That Opens a Door to the Library
by Kristine Alpi, William Cross, Greg Raschke, and Madison Sullivan

Chapter Seven    Connecting Library Textbook Programs to Campus Initiatives
by Josh Cromwell

Chapter Eight    Disrupting the Model: Fostering Cultural Change through Academic Partnerships
by Aimee deNoyelles, John Raible, Penny Beile, and Sarah Norris

Chapter Nine    Textbook and OER Practices in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A Case Study at the University of Florida
by April Hines, Stacey Ewing, Colleen Seale, and Melissa Clapp

About the Contributors

Chris Diaz

Chris Diaz is the digital publishing services librarian at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), where he manages the institutional repository and the library's digital publishing program. He became interested in college textbooks and open educational resources when he was the collections management librarian at National Louis University (Chicago).


The former Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), the Library Information Technology Association (LITA), and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) are now Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a new division of ALA. Its mission is to cultivate and amplify the collective expertise of library workers in core functions through community building, advocacy, and learning.

”A particularly easy read with a simple, organized layout ... This book would be invaluable for library directors, university administrators, or any librarian who is interested in learning about how other institutions are managing electronic textbooks and open educational resources, in an effort to better support their students by providing alternatives to expensive textbooks."
— Technicalities

"A perfect quick view into the evolving world of university and library efforts to keep student costs down and educational quality up. Readers will be left asking themselves a new batch of 'what if' questions that can only lead to more innovation."
— Reference & User Services Quarterly

"This unique title demonstrates what is truly possible when libraries and institutions collaborate in solving real problems. Each of the twenty-one contributors respectfully advocates for a combination of print, ebooks, and open educational resources in serving today’s complex student needs. Affordability, adaptability, and flexibility are key concepts addressed in this groundbreaking and important contribution."
— Catholic Library World