We want to help faculty find no- and low-cost alternatives to high-priced course materials. But NIU Libraries and the Textbook Task Force also purchase some required textbooks based on faculty recommendations. Print textbooks purchased through this program will be put on two-hour reserve at the Circulation Desk for student use in the library. We also purchase ebooks, but only those available with library-licenses which allow for unlimited users. Because of limited funds, we may not be able to acquire every textbook requested. Please submit your request, using the Textbook Purchase Recommendation Form.
Criteria for Textbook Purchasing
Priority is given to high-priced books or materials which will be used in high-enrollment courses or courses with multiple sections.
Precedence is given to materials that will be utilized for several semesters.
Undergraduate and graduate course materials are eligible.
Texts with single-user codes will not be purchased unless the faculty member notes that materials accessible only with a code will not be used in the course.
Course packs and customized textbooks are not eligible for purchase.
Loose-leaf and spiral-bound texts, which are easily damaged, are not eligible for purchase.
Multiple copies of textbooks will not be purchased.
Ebooks with licenses that do not permit unlimited users will not be purchased (note: submit your request and a librarian will check what licenses are available for the title).
Not all materials requested will be purchased; selection is contingent on the available budget.
Phares, D. (2021, July 8). NIU Textbook Costs. CC BY 4.0. Information from Northern Illinois Tuition & Cost, CollegeSimply.
Florida Virtual Campus. (2019, 8 March). Chart for Key Finding 3: The impact of textbook cost, In 2018 Florida Virtual Campus Student Textbook & Course Materials Survey, CC-BY.
Advantages of Free & Open Materials
UNESCO (the Unites Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) defines Open Educational Resources (OER) as "teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions."
OER exist to ensure educational accessibility and equity.
There are a great many misconceptions about free and open materials, most notably that because they do not go through the same process as commercially published materials, they are not of comparable quality. However, free or open resources are often as good as those produced for-profit publishers. In fact, many works were created for commercial purposes, but are now in the public domain, such as older editions of Shakespeare's plays edited by eminent scholars or images of classic works of art. And the new materials that are produced are frequently the creations of faculty at colleges and universities--the same individuals who are responsible for writing commercial textbooks.