David Gibbs Profile
David Gibbs Profi le
0 Por Fe SSnoi Al CAer Adn ACTvi Tei S: Grad student , book editor,Web editor, librarian
1 Born & lived: Ohio , Alabama, North Carolina, Boston, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, DC , USA
2 Head of Collection Development & Preservation George Mason University , Fairfax, VA • , USA
Part of the Library and Information Science Commons Recommended Citation
Follow this and additional works at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/atg
Getting Faculty into the Fight: The Battle
Against High Textbook Costs
by Ann Agee (Academic Liaison Librarian, San Jose State University) <>
and Christina Mune (Academic Liaison Librarian, San Jose State University) <>
“For one semester to save money, I didn’t buy the textbooks necessary for
the class... I didn’t have enough money to buy textbooks, so my GPA dropped
drastically from a 3.4 to a 2.9.”
This quote from a San Jose State university
(SJSu) student in 2012 underlies the situation
facing many students across the country as
textbook costs continue to rise at three times
the rate of overall consumer prices.1 The quote
also epitomizes the motivation behind the
Affordable Learning Solutions (ALS) initiative.
This California State university ( CSu) system
initiative promotes the adoption of low-cost and
free classroom materials by faculty across the
23 CSu campuses. Its goal: to lower the cost
of a college education for students.
For faculty, there are many challenges to
replacing traditional, commercially-published
textbooks with alternative learning materials.
This change requires not just swapping out a
book but redesigning syllabi, modifying lesson
plans, recreating assessments, and rewriting
lecture notes. Faculty can also lose access to
the timesaving supplements that frequently
come with a textbook, such as test banks,
instructor’s manuals, PowerPoint presentations,
and prepared lecture notes.
There are additional barriers to making this
change, especially when using open educational
resources (OER), teaching and learning
materials that are freely available online. The absence
of an easy, centralized way to find OER and a
lack of quality control for these learning objects
can make locating an appropriate resource
time-consuming and frustrating. Once an OER
is found, technical problems can arise if it is not
compatible with the devices students are using.
Self-authored materials are an alternative to
OER but demand even more of a faculty
member’s time to create. Library materials, another
alternative, still require the time necessary to
research and compile them for classroom use.
These were the obstacles we needed to
overcome when ALS was rolled out at SJSu
in 2012. At SJSu, and many other CSu cam
puses, the ALS initiative is coordinated by
librarians, professionals committed to providing
equal access to information. To kick off the
campaign on the SJSu campus, an ALS Fair
was held with speakers from the Education
division of Apple, Flat World Knowledge,
and Open.Michigan, the university of
Michigan initiative that encourages faculty to use,
create, and share OER. A student panel spoke
about the effects of textbook prices on their
education, and a panel of faculty already using
textbook alternatives outlined their approaches.
A raffle — with iTunes gift cards and two iPads
donated by the campus bookstore as prizes —
topped off the event.
After this opener, an ALS Website was
created to provide faculty with information on
finding open resources (library.sjsu.edu/als), a
Webinar was provided for online instructors,
and workshops were held where faculty could
work one-on-one with librarians to find open
against the grain
Y liFe: Loner, nerd, bookworm.
ni MY SPAer TMi:e Amateur musician (clarinet, piano),
v PeT PevS: Tailgaters (drivers and pedestrians), loud
resources and library eBooks for their classes.
eBooks from the library appeal to faculty as
both authoritative and easily accessible to their
students, and ALS capitalized on this interest
early by creating the Textbooks Available
as eBooks in the Library list. http://library.
Textbooks Available as eBooks in the
Library (TABL) List
The list is created with the help of one of the library’s campus partners, the Spartan
Bookstore, a Barnes & Noble outlet. Before
each semester begins, the bookstore shares
its list of textbooks ordered by faculty with
the library’s Technical Services department.
The library matches this list of textbooks
to the library’s collection of nearly 130,000
multiple-use eBooks. This is a painstaking
process because the format of the bookstore’s
list and the library’s catalog are not a precise
match and the data needs to be reformatted by
hand. However, in the Spring 2012 semester,
a total of 126 textbook titles were found to be
available in the library’s eBook collection.
Once posted to the library’s Website, the
TABL list is promoted to students through
social media and the campus newspaper. In the
Spring 2012 semester, usage of the 126 eBooks
increased by 794% compared to the previous
term’s usage. Classes that had a combined
total enrollment of more than 1,700 students
were using these eBooks as either required or
supplementary textbooks. Using these
enrollment figures and the books’ usage statistics, it
was projected that the TABL list saved students
more than $50,000 in its first semester.
Combined with usage figures from the Fall 2012 list,
this estimate grew to over $200,000. The list
is now in its fifth semester, and its success is
reflected in new library collection practices that
give preference to multi-user eBooks.
While this for-profit/library partnership may
seem like an unusual relationship, bookstore
management indicates that selling textbooks is
no longer the main retail goal of a campus
bookstore; rentals, digital books, and merchandise
provide a much higher profit margin. For the
bookstore, creating positive partnerships with
other departments on campus balances the loss
of a fraction of their book sales.
Textbook Alternatives Project (TAP)