The cost of college textbooks continues to increase and the economic burden is of great concern to students. The College Board estimates that the average student in this country spends around $1,200 a year on books and supplies. A single book can cost as much as $200. Between 2002 and 2013, the price of college textbooks rose 82% — nearly three times the rate of inflation, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office.
There are several ways faculty can help make educational resources affordable for your students:
- Stop assigning over-priced textbooks, especially those that are frequently and needlessly updated. Can you use a previous edition?
- Place course materials on Course Reserves in the library.
- Work with your subject specialist librarian to identify appropriate ebooks already available in the library's collection and use them as course textbooks.
- Fully exercise the right of fair use to make as much course material as possible digitally available to students via course-management or library systems. Provide permalinks to journal articles and other resources from the library's website on your Blackboard site or Library E-Reserves (free access to students).
- Choose a standard textbook and place it on reserve in the library. Then let your students know how to access it.
- Make use of Open Educational Resource (OER) available through repositories and other open access resources, such as those listed below.
- Publish open-access scholarly articles that can be freely used as course texts. Deposit your materials into Huskie Commons, NIU's institutional repository.
- Encourage colleagues to invest time, intellect, and effort into writing, editing, and peer reviewing open-access textbooks rather than writing textbooks on behalf of for-profit publishers.
(Adapted from Barclay, Donald A. "No Reservations: Why the Time Has Come to Kill Print Textbook Reserves." College and Research Libraries News 76, no. 6 (June 2015): 332-35. http://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/9331/10450 and the University of Richmond LibGuide: http://libguides.richmond.edu/scholarlycommunications/OER)