Reduce Course Materials Costs: We’ll Help – St. Thomas Libraries Blog
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Reduce Course Materials Costs: We’ll Help

Textbook prices have been increasing at a greater rate than the Consumer Price Index for the last three decades, but the rate of increase has itself taken a dramatic upturn in the new century as shown in this graph based on Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census data:

Comparison of textbook costs to the Consumer Price Index over time

This dramatic increase is leading to students deciding not to purchase course materials, which negatively impacts student learning. According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) study, Fixing the Broken Textbook Market:

  • The average student spends $1,200 on textbooks per year.
  • 65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook/coursepack because it was too expensive.
  • 82% of students felt they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook/coursepack was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional.

The future doesn’t have to be bleak. There are a couple of options to reduce or even potentially eliminate course costs for students for a course:

  1. Open Educational Resources (OER) – There are a wide variety of freely available textbooks and other open courseware that can be customized, repurposed, or used as-is for a course. The library suggests places to find these on the Textbook Alternatives Research Guide.
  2. Resource Lists Canvas Add-on – Since January, the University Libraries and STELAR have worked together to offer a Canvas add-on that allows instructors to create, manage, and deliver lists of course materials in Canvas. This system can be utilized to make course materials more affordable because the Resource Lists system filters the readings through existing library holdings which have already be licensed or purchased by the library. Learn more about Resource Lists, see the how-to documentation, or contact Greg Argo at if you’re interested in using it for an upcoming course.
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