PN Ditch Your Textbook: Academic Librarians Inspiring Faculty to go “Open”

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Venue: JW
Room: Grand Ballroom 7-8

The American public is increasingly angry about skyrocketing college tuition, and asks why it is so expensive. Textbooks are particularly problematic because the average cost of over $100 is difficult to justify, and purchases add to mounting student debt. Academic librarians routinely see the negative outcome of unaffordable textbooks. During the first weeks of the semester, the most frequent reference question is “Does the library have my textbook?”, and the answer is often “No.” Even their college library cannot afford these students’ textbooks. Academic librarians offer few solutions to the textbook conundrum. In rare cases they attempt to purchase textbooks for all or just the most heavily populated courses. While these are noble efforts to help students, these Band-Aid solutions ultimately support a textbook publishing industry that is fundamentally broken. A far better solution tackles the problem at its root by collaborating with faculty who make the textbook decision. Like the scholarly publishing crisis, where academic librarians encourage faculty to bypass the traditional scholarly journals in favor of open access titles, librarians could also partner with faculty to develop better ways to deliver course learning content to students. Rather than take a passive, hands-off approach to the textbook challenge, two academic libraries choose to confront this problem by establishing programs at their institutions to support faculty who wanted to “ditch the textbook.” In this panel discussion, attendees will learn the details of these unique alternate textbook projects, and how to replicate the program at their institutions. The panel includes the two librarians who led these projects at their institutions, a participating faculty member, and a teaching and learning center colleague who supported the program. In the spring of 2011 each librarian, working with the Provost’s Office or a Teaching, Learning and Technology Roundtable, proposed an innovative pilot project to support faculty who wanted to both save students money and improve learning by eliminating the traditional textbook. A competitive proposal process was established to solicit faculty projects. Winning proposals received $1,000 grants funded by the library. Faculty worked, with support from the library if desired, over the summer of 2011 to compile the learning materials that would replace their standard textbook. The first set of alternate textbook project courses began in fall 2011. Faculty submitted evaluation reports addressing cost savings to students, but also how the introduction of an alternate set of learning content impacted student learning and engagement. Each librarian anticipates providing opportunities for these faculty to share their project results, and further promote the alternate textbook approach to even more faculty. While these institutions plan a second wave of grants to support more faculty, the expectation is that over time, more faculty will voluntarily choose to opt for alternate learning materials instead of traditional textbooks. The panel organizers will engage the attendees with a combination of panel discussion, live polls, video segments and the opportunity for attendees to share how they are confronting the textbook dilemma on their campuses.

Program Description
College students descend on the academic library in search of current textbooks, typically discovering there are none. Seeking to assist, academic librarians struggle with the dilemma of how to best provide students with access to textbooks or they ignore the issue all together. Discover how two academic libraries took a totally different route by inspiring faculty to “ditch the textbook”, and instead compile a set of learning materials composed of open and library provided content.
Type of audience. Who is this session for?
People brand new to the topic.
People with some experience in the topic, but looking to grow.
Primary Program tag
Teaching & Learning
Speaker : Kristina Baumli, Adjunct Professor, English Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Speaker : Dr. steven bell, associate university librarian, temple university, philadelphia, PA
Speaker : Mei-Yau Shih, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
Presenter : Marilyn Billings, Scholarly Communication & Special Initiatives Librarian, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
Presenter : Marilyn Billings, Scholarly Communication & Special Initiatives Librarian, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA