- The University of Minnesota has hosted an Open Textbook Library through its College of Education and Human Development for three years, providing a list of high-quality, affordable alternatives to increasingly expensive traditional textbooks.
- The Star Tribune reports that the library has 184 titles to date, with grant funding supporting the development of new texts all the time and faculty reviews helping to encourage adoption.
- One professor at the university switched to a free online textbook, giving students the opportunity to buy a printed version for $23, and students were grateful for the cheaper alternative as well as the ability to do their reading online.
The University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library is likely an incredible help to faculty considering a shift to free textbooks. One key barrier to this shift is the time and energy it takes to find new course materials and ensure they are high-quality. That is a time-intensive process whether the course materials are traditional or not, however.
Colleges interested in encouraging OER use among faculty to save students money should consider libraries like Minnesota’s as a resource. The U.S. Department of Education now has an OER advisor on staff to offer further recommendations. And the University of California has learned several important lessons in scaling up its initiatives systemwide.