CHICAGO — A recent 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 the new monograph “Affordable Course Materials: Electronic Textbooks and Open Educational Resources,” published by ALA Editions, the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) and editor Chris Diaz have gathered a range of experts 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.
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 Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) has been a division of the American Library Association since 1957. Its mission is to shape and respond nimbly to all matters related to the selection, identification, acquisition, organization, management, retrieval, and preservation of recorded knowledge through education, publication, and collaboration.
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