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Aug 21 2014

NCSU Libraries offering grants to help faculty develop free or low-cost open textbook alternatives

(Raleigh, N.C.)—In the latest of several initiatives designed to help students reduce the expense of textbooks as part of their university educations and make it easier for faculty to explore and create new resources for their teaching, the NCSU Libraries is inviting North Carolina State University faculty to apply for grants to adopt, adapt, or create free or low-cost open alternatives to today’s expensive textbooks.

Ranging between $500 and $2,000, the competitive Alt-Textbook grants will be awarded to help faculty pursue innovative uses of technology and information resources that can replace pricey traditional textbooks.  Larger grants may be available for larger-scale or especially high-impact projects.

Textbook costs have outpaced inflation by 300% over the last 30 years. These runaway prices have become a major strain on students, with textbooks averaging $1,200 a year and 7 out of 10 students admitting on a recent Public Interest Research Group survey that they have not purchased a required text because of its cost.

Open Textbooks Image

Grants are available to develop textbook alternatives for the Spring 2015 and Fall 2015 semesters. Possible approaches include:

  • creating a new open textbook or collection of materials
  • adopting an existing open textbook
  • assembling a collection of open resources into new course materials
  • licensing an e-textbook, video, or other media content for classroom use or e-reserves
  • using subscribed library resources

As faculty work on their proposals, NCSU librarians are available to collaborate and to share expertise in copyright, licensing, open access, course management software and tools, electronic reserves, subject-matter content, and multimedia resources.

“Academic libraries have always been a powerful way to reduce the financial burden of a university education by pooling key resources for everyone to use,” reminds Susan K. Nutter, Vice Provost and Director of the NCSU Libraries. “The Alt-Textbook grants offer an innovative way to leverage that advantage in the digital age while at the same time giving our faculty a powerful tool to tailor their course materials to the exact needs of their students.”

The NCSU Libraries will hold several information sessions about the project in September.  Faculty can learn more about the project, review the call for proposals, sign up for information sessions, and download grant applications at the Alt-Textbook Project website.

The Alt-Textbook initiative builds on a successful partnership with the university’s Physics Department that resulted in a free physics e-textbook that is now used by 1,300 NC State students each year.

Other NCSU Libraries initiatives to reduce costs for students include providing at least one copy of every required course book on reserve each semester, supplying online reserves to electronically disseminate materials within the bounds of copyright law, and Library Course Tools, an innovative use of the Libraries’ website to present custom, course-related library content for every course at the university.

Alt-Textbook is supported by a grant from the NC State University Foundation.