KU Libraries announces pilot project to reduce textbook costs

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The University of Kansas Libraries announced plans to launch a pilot project promoting the use of open textbooks. Open textbooks, and more broadly, open educational resources (OERs) are scholarly content that is available free online for instructors and students to share, use, reuse and build upon, including formal materials like textbooks. 

The Libraries' launch of the Open Textbook Pilot Project and initial campus conversations coincides with the celebration of Open Education Week, a global movement that aims to raise awareness of free and open educational opportunities held March 9-13. 

The pilot project, focusing on large classes using traditionally published textbooks, will offer a few small grants to KU faculty to review an open textbook relevant to their fall course.  Samples of open texts can be found at Rice University’s OpenStax and University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library.

Adopting appropriate and quality open text provides an alternative low cost or no cost textbooks for the student.  The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) reported the price of traditionally published textbooks increased approximately 82 percent between 2003-2013 and that 65 percent of students choose not to purchase textbooks because of the high price. 

Ada Emmett, head of the University of Kansas Libraries Shulenburger  Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright and newly elected SPARC Steering Committee member, emphasized the impact on students at KU. “The adoption of open textbooks and other OERs has the potential to save KU students hundreds of dollars each semester, while still allowing them to access to the educational materials they need to academically excel” said Emmett. "It offers instructors the opportunity to find high quality alternatives to expensive textbooks." 

An interest group of campus partners, stakeholders and interested early adopters will be formed with an open meeting announced in the upcoming months.

For more information or to express interest in future projects, please contact the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright at lib_oscc@ku.edu.

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