Affordable Textbooks

This post is guest-authored by Lea Wade, STEM Librarian, University Libraries, and member of the Textbook Affordability Task Force of the Washington Research Library Consortium.

Textbook costs are increasing. Since 1977, college textbook prices have risen over 1,000 percent.

Vox had a recent article on how much students spend on textbooks, and what publishers are offering to do to help. Over two-thirds of students skip buying or renting some required texts because they can’t afford them.

University and college students are estimated to spend $1,240 dollars on books and supplies at the average full-time private four-year college in 2018-2019 (College Board, 2019).  That’s an increase from the average 2017-2018 cost of $1,220 at private colleges. Textbooks at public colleges are estimated to cost more: in 2017-2018 the average cost was $1,250 (Collegedata), and in 2018-2019 the estimated cost is $1,298 (College Board).

The cost varies from course to course – generally, prices for textbooks in the sciences and analytical studies such as accounting are much higher than in the humanities. At Catholic University, the most expensive textbooks cost $446 for an accounting textbook to $396 for an Italian language textbook with the accompanying online access code. When the course requirement includes paying for an online access code, students do not have the option of renting or buying a used textbook. In those cases, students may resort to sharing with a friend or doing without the required online access. Other students may drop out altogether if they cannot afford the required textbooks.

Student success and retention have been demonstrably improved through transition to affordable textbooks (Winitzky-Stephens, 2017; Hardin, 2018).

Libraries and colleges can work together to reduce the burden of textbook pricing on students. The Catholic University of America University Libraries is leveraging its membership in the Washington Research Libraries Consortium to examine options. One option is expanding textbook access through library reserves. Another is expanding the use of Open Educational Resources, or Open Textbooks. A recent report from the Public Interest Research Groups has laid out some options for resolving the problem by embracing Open Textbooks.

“Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning, and research resources released under an open license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OERs can be textbooks, full courses, lesson plans, videos, tests, or any other tool, material, or technique that supports access to knowledge.”Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition. 

OER involves replacing textbooks with openly licensed and easily accessible documents and media. With OER textbooks, students have access to the text online at no cost. Faculty can be assured that if students do not read the assigned text, it is not because they couldn’t afford the text.

Some universities are providing grant funding to faculty who agree to refocus their courses to include the use of OER. Even more funding is often provided to faculty who write an open textbook. Years of advocacy for open educational resources has begun to move the needle toward greater acceptance. Student Public Interest Research Groups have released an action plan for universities and faculty to help relieve the burden of textbook cost. An associated student-led campaign, the Open Textbook Alliance, provides simple handouts and guides on open textbooks.

Your subject liaison librarian can help you identify free open-source textbooks if you are wondering what is already available. There are several online open repositories of textbooks that are free and available to use for your research and coursework.

If you are wondering what is already available, there are several online open repositories of textbooks that are free and available to use for your research and coursework.

Some OER Repositories include the following sites:

You can learn more about what other campuses are doing to improve student success by reducing textbook cost burden from this article [Espocito, J. The Coming Wave of Affordable Textbooks [https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2018/11/19/the-coming-wave-of-affordable-textbooks/], November 19, 2018].

 

Recommendations

  • Students should directly advocate for open textbook use in their classrooms.
  • Faculty should consider adopting open textbooks in their classrooms. They should check the U. Minnesota Open Textbook Library to see if there’s a book available for your class.
  • Campus administrators should consider creating an open textbook pilot program on their campus. They can see the University System of Maryland’s MOST Initiative as a sample.
  • State and federal legislatures should invest in the creation and development of more open textbooks. See Washington State’s Open Course Library as an example.
  • Publishers should develop new models that can produce high quality books without imposing excessive prices on students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music collections moving this summer

During the summer, the collections and services of the Music Library located in Ward Hall will be consolidated into Mullen Library as those of the other branch libraries have been during the past year.

If you need help locating specific scores or books during the relocation of the collections please contact Access Services staff in Mullen Library at lib-circulation@cua.edu. Faculty needing to place items on course reserve should write lib-reserves@cua.edu. Students and faculty are encouraged to arrange for research consultations through the Meet With A Librarian service, http://cua.libcal.com, or by contacting Thad Garrett directly, garrettt@cua.edu.

Nursing/Biology Library changes

At the end of the Fall 2016 semester, the Nursing/Biology Library currently located in Gowan Hall will be re-purposed, with print books and journals being relocated to Mullen Library. After the collection move is complete, the first floor of the existing Library will be re-opened by the School of Nursing as a learning commons where faculty and students may do research and work together. Plans are underway to utilize the second floor of the current space in Gowan for other nursing purposes.

Anyone needing help locating specific print books during the transition and relocation of collections may contact Taras Zvir, Interim Stacks Supervisor (zvir@cua.edu). Faculty needing to place items on course reserve may contact our Access Services staff (lib-circulation@cua.edu). Students and faculty are encouraged to arrange for research consultations through the Meet With A Librarian service, http://cua.libcal.com, or by contacting Linda Todd directly (todd@cua.edu).

Anne Lesher named as 2014 Belanger awardee

Anne Lesher, Reference Librarian, has been selected as the recipient of the Edward J. Belanger Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service for 2014.

Ed Belanger worked for the Libraries for over 40 years before retiring in 2002 as our business manager. His service and dedication to his fellow staff was extraordinary; and he is one of the most positive, up-beat, and good natured people you will ever meet. After his retirement, his children made a donation to the Libraries for the creation of an award in his honor.

Each year the Libraries select a staff member of the year who not only contributes outstanding service to the library but also shares Ed’s good nature. Our recent practice has been for the past honorees to serve as the award committee, selecting from among nominations submitted by library staff.

Excerpted from one nomination:

She juggles many hats and does it with a smile. She orders books for and physically maintains a large variety of collections. Her coordinating work involves a lot of training of a variety of library employees. She is a team player and flexible when changes in procedure are made or having to learn new technology. She works well with students and faculty at the desk and with faculty in her liaison departments. I find her to be a wealth of institutional history since she has worked for the University Libraries for over 20 years. When I need advice on how to tackle a project or just advice in general I find her.

Communication Source: Free Trial of Database

Until May 1,  CUA Libraries has a free trial to the database Communication Source. The database offers abstracts and indexing as well as full-text content from publications worldwide pertaining to communication, linguistics, rhetoric and discourse, speech-language pathology, media studies and related fields. Back file coverage includes top titles in communication reaching deep into the 20th century.

Librarians are evaluating the usefulness of this resource. Try it out and let us know what you think.  Email your comments to Meghan Gates, Subject Librarian for Media Studies: gates@cua.edu

Get the Most from Web of Science (WoS) + EndNote, February 27

CUA Libraries is providing 2 in‐depth training sessions for researchers; no registration required.

Date: Thursday, February 27
Time:  10:00 AM (WoS) and 11:30 AM (EndNote)
Location:  Scullen Room, Pangborn Hall, First Floor Continue reading “Get the Most from Web of Science (WoS) + EndNote, February 27”

Web of Science New Look

Happy New Year! Welcome to Spring 2014.
Web of Science at CUA
To access Web of Science, use the link through the Databases tab

The next generation of Web of Science went live on January 12, 2014.
http://images.webofknowledge.com/WOKRS513R8.1/help/WOK/hp_whatsnew_wok.html

New short training videos are available.
http://www.youtube.com/user/WoSTraining?elq=334ec9c32fa242c781f36ab7e47c3e43&elqCampaignId=

We will be offering training on campus in February – stay tuned.

For instruction on Web of Science and EndNote please contact Kimberly Hoffman, Coordinator Science Libraries

WiFi upgrades in Mullen Library

Technology Services is installing new WiFi access points throughout Mullen Library this week. Library staff is continuing to work with them to fine-tune the configuration of the new units.

If you encounter troubles please be sure to ask at the information desk for help. If we are unable to help we will pass along all information to the technicians to aid in the proper configuration of the new network. We appreciate your patience and join you in looking forward to a robust, reliable WiFi experience in Mullen Library.

Mullen Library to reopen at 5pm Aug 28

The ruptured water pipe near McMahon Hall has been replaced and water has been restored to the Crough Center, Shahan Hall, and Mullen Library. Water dependent cooling systems in Mullen are being checked and reset. We expect the Library to reopen at 5pm.

In the meantime please visit our other campus libraries, libraries.cua.edu/about/collecs.cfm.