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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Archivist’s Nook: A Rocky Road to Reconstruction

The year 1919 could be termed a grim one. The First World War had ended in November, 1918, true, but the combatants were still taking measure of that frightful conflict. With more than 70 million people mobilized to fight, more than 16 million had died as a direct result of the war, with another 50 to 100 million dying as a result of the 1918 influenza pandemic. A “Red Scare” gripped the United States, as fear of communist agitation rippled through the country in the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Two women lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris. The war was over in 1918, but U.S. Catholics believed its ravages warranted proposals for social reconstruction.

These more immediate happenings occurred in the context of long term changes in social and economic life that had accelerated during the previous century. The industrial revolutions transformed the nature of work, the landscape of cities, and the lives of peoples displaced by the changing economy. Pope Leo XIII had addressed the meaning of such changes for Catholics in his 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, noting that “new developments industry, new techniques striking out on new paths, changed relations of employer and employee” had led to “a decline of morals and caused conflict to break forth.” Many Catholics in the United States and elsewhere sought to address how their religion might address social and economic transformation.[1]

When the National Catholic War Council led by the United States bishops formed in 1917, their chief aim was to assist the millions of Catholics mobilizing for the First World War. However, when the war ended it became clear that a national Catholic organization designed to coordinate activities among the nation’s faithful would prove useful. In 1919 the bishops changed the name of their young organization to the National Catholic Welfare Council and began discussing a Catholic plan for postwar America.[2]

The National Catholic War Council, like many social and religious groups of the time, was eager to offer a Catholic plan for postwar America of its own. In April of 1918 the bishops established a Committee for Reconstruction. The war ended on November 11, 1918, however, sooner than the Committee could forge their plan. The Committee’s secretary, Catholic charity expert Rev. John O’Grady had only the vaguest notions of what its plan should look like at that time. O’Grady, panicking in early December because he needed a plan immediately, turned to Father John A. Ryan, who had written a book on living wage issues and studied social reform extensively, to write a program. Ryan at first resisted then agreed and dictated the Program to a typist two days later. Ryan’s program was pushed quickly through the administrative structure of the War Council and approved by the Committee’s bishops. The program called for government insurance for the sick, unemployed and aged; labor’s participation in industrial management; public housing; unions’ right to organize, and a “living wage” for all workers. The Program’s publicist, Larkin Mead, set a release date for it: February 12, 1919, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

Initially reluctant to write the Program, Ryan eventually came to view it as his most important work up to that point. Above is Ryan’s own inscribed copy.
Father John Ryan (1869-1945), author of the Bishops’ Program for Reconstruction, attended The Catholic University of America from 1898 until 1906, receiving his Doctorate in Sacred Theology in the latter year. He taught at the University from 1915 until his retirement in 1939.

The Program was called then, and forever after would be called, the “Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction,” the implication being that it represented the entire church’s views on the remaking of America in the postwar era. That claim was disputed by some, because the War Council’s authority to issue such a sweeping statement on behalf of the whole church was questioned. Some Catholic prelates and business groups opposed the bishops’ plan on the grounds that it was too radical. William Cardinal O’Connell of Boston, for example, believed some aspects of the plan were “socialistic,” a word often used to describe what was viewed as too much government involvement in American society and the economy. Many Americans were inclined to share O’Connell’s suspicions; the Red Scare in particular heightened fears of “Bolshevik” plots. As the 1920s progressed, Americans’ lost their appetite for Progressive reform, and critics of the Bishops’ plan gained traction. The kind of reformism advised in the Bishops’ Program would not find an audience again until the economy slid into the Depression in the 1930s.

Read the entire Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction here

Visit the website related to the Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction here

A finding aid to the National Catholic War Council can be found here

A finding aid to the papers of John A. Ryan can be found here

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[1] Quote from Rerum Novarum is on the American Catholic History Classroom website, Catholic and Social Welfare, 1919:  https://cuomeka.wrlc.org/exhibits/show/bishops/bishops/1919bishops-intro2.

[2] “Council” would be changed to “Conference” in 1922, with the organization serving as the forerunner of today’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Kristen Fredericksen named 2018 Belanger awardee

Kristen Fredericksen, Information Processing Librarian, has been selected as the recipient of the Edward J. Belanger Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service for 2018.

One colleague nominated Kristen saying:

Kristen single handedly shepherded us through the Alma transition. She became one of the most knowledgeable people within WRLC regarding this new next generation system. She keeps a very calm and even keel as she approaches often very frustrating and unknown situations. Kristen has a keen ability to problem solve.

Another wrote:

I … have always found her dependable, efficient, and hard working. Her skills do not end with her work. She also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to all. I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Kristen.

Ed Belanger worked for the university for over 40 years before retiring in 2002 as the Libraries’ 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. Past honorees serve as the award committee, selecting from among nominations submitted by library staff.

ProQuest databases, Ebook Central, and RefWorks will be temporarily unavailable from 10 pm on January 19 to 6 am on January 20.

To maintain the currency and security of the products, ProQuest is performing maintenance on many ProQuest products beginning from 10 pm on January 19, 2019, U.S. Eastern Time. Maintenance will conclude within 8 hours. During the maintenance window, the following subscribed services from ProQuest will be temporarily unavailable.

  • ProQuest Platform (search.proquest.com)
  • ProQuest Congressional (search.proquest.com/congressional, congressional.proquest.com)
  • ProQuest Ebook Central
  • RefWorks (Legacy and New)

New LexisNexis Academic platform: Nexis Uni

As of December 31, 2018, the LexisNexis Academic was officially retired and replaced by Nexis Uni, which our library has been offering parallel access with LexisNexis Academic since January of 2018. Compared to LexisNexis Academic, Nexis Uni has a more user-friendly interface and more enhanced features on personalization, collaboration, and quick discovery.

Shane MacDonald named 2017 Belanger awardee

Shane MacDonald, Archives Technician, has been selected as the recipient of the Edward J. Belanger Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service for 2017.

One colleague nominated Shane saying:

He is a primary asset in the Archives serving the library, the university campus, and the broader research community. He is a dynamo of energy as he amiably performs multi task service ranging from answering reference questions, arranging researcher visits, managing museum objects, directing student workers, organizing archival collections, and writing thoughtfully funny blog posts. He often begins work early and stays late as he is a dedicated,dependable, and intelligent library professional more than deserving of this award.

Ed Belanger worked for the university for over 40 years before retiring in 2002 as the Libraries’ 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. Past honorees serve as the award committee, selecting from among nominations submitted by library staff.

Charito-Grace Antiporda named 2016 Belanger awardee

Charito-Grace Antiporda, Collection Management Assistant, has been selected as the recipient of the Edward J. Belanger Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service for 2016.

One colleague nominated Charito saying:

… outside of being a dedicated and hard-working employee, [she] is a wonderful person. She never fails to come to work with a smile and good attitude. She remembers every birthday, every anniversary, and every happy occasion and will, unfailing, congratulate you on any good news in your life.

Another said:

I have worked with [her] for more than 25 years. She is a pleasure to work with and has a positive attitude at all times. I have seen her so many days working late, and when I ask her why she was still there, she would reply to me that she had to finish what she was doing. …

I have seen her taking so many responsibilities within her department [as times change]… and she is an expert in all of them….

[She is ] the one person who remembers pretty much every library staff’s birthday…. There were days that I forgot my own birthday and she had to remind me.

Ed Belanger worked for the university for over 40 years before retiring in 2002 as the Libraries’ 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. Past honorees serve as the award committee, selecting from among nominations submitted by library staff.

News & Events: April 11, 2016

12931066_10100184396235769_5788830788809834596_nONGOING TRIALS – The University Libraries has two ongoing trials:

  • The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall is available through April 14. The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall video streams classical music concerts to your tablet, smartphone, smartTV or PC. Some events are also streamed live. The sound quality is similar to that of a CD and the picture quality similar to HD television. To access the trial, visit https://www.digitalconcerthall.com from any campus computer and follow the steps to create a free account. Please provide any feedback to Thad Garrett at garrettt@cua.edu.
  • Architectural Digest Magazine Archive is available through May 4. Each issue in the Architectural Digest Magazine Archive is presented in its entirety, including the front and back covers and its high-quality photo spreads. All articles and advertisements have been indexed with subject terms to allow users to find relevant results quickly, as well as research and analyze trends in topics and advertising materials. With over 90 years’ worth of issues available, the Architectural Digest Magazine Archive is a valuable resource for everyday design enthusiasts, researchers of architecture and interior design and those interested in the history of business, advertising and popular culture. To access the trial, visit http://proxycu.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=ada. Please provide any feedback to Anne Marie Hules at hules@cua.edu.

SCI-FI CLASSICS FILM SERIES – One film remains in the University Libraries’ three-part film series featuring science fiction classics. Join us  in the May Gallery Wednesday, April 20 at 7 pm for Solaris, the brilliantly original 1972 Soviet film that challenges our conceptions about love, truth, and humanity itself. Popcorn and soft drinks are provided! The film can be viewed anytime from Kanopy Streaming. To request accommodations for individuals with disabilities, please call Joan Stahl at 202-319-6473 or email stahlj@cua.edu.

WRITING CENTER IN MULLEN – Did you know that the Writing Center holds satellite hours in Mullen Library? On Wednesdays from 5-8pm and Saturdays from 11am-2pm, stop by the Mullen lobby for one-on-one help with your written assignments. To read more about what support the Writing Center provides and to see their full hours at other locations, go to http://english.cua.edu/wc/.

HELP AVAILABLE – We’re here to help connect you to the information and resources you need!