Textbook Affordability Program

A new service for Spring 2021: Textbook Affordability Program

Authors: Josh McArthur, Jane Morey, Sandra Standish

Having trouble affording all your textbooks? Maybe the CMU Libraries can help. The high cost of a college education is a frequent topic in the news. It is also a concern within the higher education community. Studies have found that 35% of students take fewer courses, and 14% have dropped a course due to textbook costs. Library staff members felt that there was a way we could continue to meet our mission of providing scholarly resources to students for academic success, while also helping increase equity for students attending college.

Through the generosity of the President’s and Provost’s Fund for Program Innovation and Excellence, the CMU Libraries’ “Textbook Affordability Program” was selected for funding from 60 proposals across campus.

The “Textbook Affordability Program” will begin in Spring 2021 and provide print textbooks for select courses on Course Reserves in the library. Based on specific inclusion criteria, there will initially be 68 courses in the program. Additional courses may be added in future semesters. The inclusion criteria are:

  • Number of enrolled students in all sections
  • University Program (UP) and General Education (Gen Ed) course designations, which most students must take
  • Courses that have proved difficult for students to pass
  • Classes that are entry courses into certain programs

The program will make a significant number of textbooks available to students. Faculty whose courses do not meet the criteria for inclusion can donate their textbooks to the program.

Based on our data, if only 10% of students enrolled in the selected courses use the program, the total savings to students would be over $380,000!

CMU Libraries staff members proposed a textbook program as it would allow students to:

  • Use textbooks without charge for select courses
  • Help them afford textbooks in other courses
  • Take additional courses
  • Relieve economic pressures on students
  • As a library service, provide privacy for those using the program

Library staff members have been hard at work preparing since we received the good news last month! The Access Services project team have been working on the following:

  • Communicating with Student Government Association
  • Creating a public website
  • Designing a logo
  • Determining a list of textbooks to buy
  • Preparing information to share with faculty
  • Working with a cross-disciplinary team within the library

The program is a true exercise in cooperation as it requires the input of most departments in the library. It’s a real pleasure to see so many employees in the library excited about the potential of the program.

Luckily, much of the work on this project has been able to continue while we have worked remotely. It has given everyone involved a ‘fun’ project to focus on during these challenging days.

The next steps we are taking going forward are:

  • Continue to communicate with stakeholders
  • Confirm with faculty the textbooks assigned for the fall semester
  • Work with acquisitions team to buy the materials
  • Process the textbooks so that they are ready to checkout

For more information and updates to the program, view the Textbooks website, https://libguides.cmich.edu/textbooks. As a new initiative, we welcome feedback that could aid us in ensuring the program is a success. If you would like to comment or ask questions, please contact us through our email address, coursereserves@cmich.edu.

2 thoughts on “A new service for Spring …

  1. Bravo everyone! Excellent ‘grassroots’ program…great idea. Congratulations to all who are making it happen and to the students who will benefit.

  2. Way to go everyone! This initiative has been talked about for a long time so wonderful to see you make it happen!

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