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KU partners with OpenStax to promote free textbooks

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lawrence, Kansas – June 20, 2017 –The University of Kansas has been chosen as one of 11 schools to participate in the 2017-18 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage adoption of free, peer-reviewed open textbooks at KU.

KU was selected to participate in this strategic partnership with OpenStax through a rigorous application process. Institutional partners will receive individualized consulting from OpenStax and join a cohort of schools advocating for widespread local use of open educational resources (OER). Last year’s institutional partner schools saw a 55 percent increase in the number of students using OER, saving an additional $1.7 million in the coming academic year.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with OpenStax on this initiative,” said Kevin L. Smith, dean of KU Libraries. “KU has been a leader in open access to research for years; expanding our support of OER is a natural extension of that work which will benefit students, faculty and staff.”

The high cost of traditional textbooks—an average of somewhere between $600 and $1,400 per student each year, according to studies by National Association of College Stores and the College Board—impacts students’ ability to attend college as well as their ability to persist and complete coursework. OER such as the textbooks created by OpenStax eliminate cost barriers for students and allow unrestricted, immediate access to learning materials, increasing the likelihood for students to complete their courses successfully.

KU Libraries are committed to supporting student success and innovative teaching through the increased use of OpenStax and other OER, and to partnering with other campus units interested in expanding the impact of this work. OpenStax books meet standard scope and sequence requirements, are peer-reviewed and are easy to implement. They are comparable to textbooks that cost $200 or more and are available for free online and in PDF, and are available at very low cost in print.

KU Libraries’ OER initiatives are based out of the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, which also sponsors annual events during Open Access Week and Open Education Week, where students, faculty and staff hear highly regarded speakers and attend workshops related to academic freedom initiatives. The Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright is honored to partner with the OpenStax program and expand upon its efforts to encourage the adoption, adaption and creation of open textbooks. This program adds to the Office’s other efforts to encourage, support and reward researchers for their efforts to shift the scholarly communication system towards one that is more open and equitable.

OpenStax is committed to improving access to quality learning materials. An initiative of Rice University and supported by philanthropic foundations, OpenStax provides free textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure readability, accuracy and adherence to scope and sequence requirements of most introductory college courses.

For more information about OER at KU, contact Scholarly Communication Librarian Josh Bolick at

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