Library resources save students $165,000 in course materials costs

“Among the strategies to reduce the cost of textbooks and course materials for students, University Libraries encourages instructors to consider assigning online content purchased by the Libraries as course materials.  When students access their course materials through library-licensed e-books, journal articles, and streaming videos, the cost avoidance may significantly lower their total cost of college.

This fall the Libraries collected anonymous usage data indicating the number of times students (in aggregate) clicked links to library electronic resources from courses in the Blackboard learning management system.  When multiplied by an average cost for online e-books, videos, and journal articles, the total calculated savings for students during the 2023 fiscal year was approximately $165,000….

The Libraries have several faculty partnership initiatives to provide access to affordable course materials,  promote open educational resources and open textbooks, and streamline their syllabi using library resources.  For more information about these affordable learning initiatives, contact your subject or regional campus librarian….”

Charting the Future of Science: Reforming scientific publishing for a new era of open knowledge – International Science Council

“Given the vital importance of these processes, the International Science Council has undertaken a rigorous review1 of current practices so as to identify contemporary needs for science publishing and to assess the extent to which the current system serves those needs. The Council’s studies led to development of eight essential principles for modern scientific publication, which were endorsed by over 90% of the membership present at its 2021 General Assembly. The principles are listed in Paper One, The Key Principles for Scientific Publishing accompanied by an analysis of the extent to which they are observed operationally….

The conclusion of this exercise has been that the current operation of the science publishing system falls far short in the principles that are essential to its effective operation, and that significant reform is needed. This conclusion is all the more important in light of the current global commitment to a new era of open science, in which new forms of openness are believed to be vital in enhancing the trustworthiness and utility of science as an essential human enterprise. The achievement of this open science vision depends fundamentally upon an effective, globally pervasive knowledge network based on the Council’s eight principles….

The ideal outcomes of reform would be systems that support four basic functions: 

funding of publishing that is internationally coordinated in ways that calibrate national financial contributions through indices of capacity to pay, with no charges for authors or readers; 
standards for publication that incorporate the ISC’s eight principles, and standard setting that is accountable to the international scientific community; 
agreement amongst universities to only use articles published in ways that adhere to these standards when evaluating scientific contributions; 
creating a functional record of the complete output of scientific articles as characterized above, making the record of science freely available to all. …”

Open Science Charter makes urgent appeal for open access | Research Information

“The Frontiers Research Foundation has launched an Open Science Charter, calling upon governments, research institutions and funders, the scientific community, and citizens everywhere to support mandatory open access to all publicly funded scientific knowledge by 2030.? 

The foundation stated: “The climate emergency poses an existential threat, demanding immediate and far-reaching actions. Our planet is edging closer to several irreversible tipping points, with dire consequences for all life. We need a wide spectrum of science solutions urgently and the greatest accelerator is simply to mandate open access to publicly funded articles and data.” …

The Charter will be presented at COP28 to participants looking for solutions during the panel ‘Open Science for Inclusive and Transformative Climate and Sustainability Innovation’ on 2 December in Dubai. Read and sign The Charter here.?”

The Open Science Charter

“We call on all academic publishers to prioritize the public good, reinforcing trust in science by committing to the following fundamental principles and actions:

Universal Access by 2030: Commit to transitioning all academic journals to fully open-access models by 2030.

Uphold Peer-Review Quality: Preserve and champion the core values of scientific publishing, including registration, validation, certification, and conservation of scientific findings. Publishers bear the responsibility of protecting the integrity of peer review, ensuring it adheres to universally recognized standards of research ethics.

Transparent Pricing Linked to Quality: Adopt transparent financial models that directly correlate the price of publication with the quality of services offered. This foundational principle, prevalent in other industries, is glaringly absent in academic publishing.

Strengthen Trust in Science: Make all scientific findings openly accessible and promote transparent publishing practices. The opacity and economic flaws of traditional subscription models enable and embolden malpractice in academic publishing. A competitive environment, paired with transparent pricing tied to service quality, can effectively root out these side effects….”

Supporting an Inclusive and Equitable Classroom: Student Perspectives on a Textbook Affordability Initiative

Abstract: As academic librarians become aware of the challenges expensive textbooks pose to student success, they increasingly collaborate to provide zero-cost access to required course materials. Librarians at Illinois State University initiated a program to license e-books assigned in courses, surveying students and faculty in participating courses regarding their perspectives on textbook affordability and their experiences with the provided e-books. Student participants reported overwhelmingly positive responses and identified several ways in which the e-books enhanced their experience in the course. The findings suggest that providing assigned materials as e-books contributes to students’ engagement as learners and their academic success within courses.

Provost Directs Additional Funding To Curb Textbook Costs – Texas A&M Today

“The affordability of attending college, especially when it comes to paying for high-priced textbooks, is squarely in the sights of Texas A&M University Provost Dr. Alan Sams. In one of his first acts as provost, Sams directed $500,000 in grant funding to support Open Educational Resources (OER) and underwrite the costs of developing free books, notes and other educational resources or revising courses to fit existing, openly available materials. The program is expected to reduce or eliminate textbook costs in 19 courses—saving Aggie students more than $1 million in just the first year.

“Open” textbooks are openly-licensed, digital textbooks that can be read, downloaded and printed online at no or low cost, for anyone to use and share freely.

Past university OER development grants for faculty and library staff have saved Aggies more than $1.5 million in textbook costs, and the latest grants aim to save students another $1 million each year.

Course professors in biology, business, computer science and computer engineering, ecology and conservation biology, history, mathematics, nursing and statistics have been working since the summer to develop free resources for students. Organic chemistry faculty are also working on OER books and notes as part of course redesign efforts….”

A fairer pricing framework for scholarly publishing Survey

“On behalf of cOAlition S the team at Information Power developed a fairer global pricing framework and tool, based on open and transparent data, that can be used across the spectrum of publishing business models. The team emphasizes the need for close dialogue between stakeholders and careful use of the tool to ensure the framework is deployed in ways that work well for customers and advance equity. If applied without dialogue, transparency, and in alignment with shared principles then differential pricing can be – and has been – wielded as a blunt instrument to do ill.

Once you have read the report which is available via the cOAlition S website, we would be grateful if you would complete this survey. Based on feedback received during this consultation, we will finalize the framework and tool.

In a nutshell:
* To ensure equity from the beginning, publishers can use the framework for new services.
* To improve equity, publishers might want to shift existing services to this new framework. This might be challenging, and so a Fairer Pricing Tool is available to help publishers explore the most suitable banding and model the impact on different customers.
* Exchange rate fluctuations can be a barrier to equity in some countries. Publishers could help customers by converting prices once a year into local currencies. These local prices would be fixed for 12 months….”

Mansfield Library at UM set to cut largest e-journal packages | KECI

“When University of Montana students access the library’s online research database next year, the number of journals they can immediately access will be reduced. The library plans to cut its three largest electronic journal packages starting in January.

The latest cuts to the collections come amid rising journal package prices and a stagnant budget, said Barry Brown, the library’s interim dean….

The three large e-journal packages set to be canceled are Elsevier ScienceDirect, Taylor & Francis and Wiley. The cuts will impact more than 5,000 journals….

The library has seen a $700,000 reduction in money received since fiscal year 2020….”


Fair Global Pricing: consultation


cOAlition S commissioned Information Power to explore how a globally fair pricing framework for academic publishing could be devised and implemented. The key objective of this project was to identify ways in which readers and producers of scholarly publications or their proxies – research funders and universities – can financially contribute to supporting academic publishing services in a globally equitable and sustainable manner.

The Information Power team have developed a fairer global pricing framework and tool, based on open and transparent data, that can be used across the spectrum of publishing business models. Information Power emphasizes the need for close dialogue between stakeholders and careful use of the tool to ensure the framework is deployed in ways that work well for customers and advance equity. If applied by publishers without dialogue, transparency, and in alignment with shared principles, then differential pricing can be – and has been – wielded as a blunt instrument to do ill.


West Texas A&M says it won’t charge for textbooks next fall

“West Texas A&M University’s president made a splashy announcement late last week: effective next fall, his university would no longer charge students for “textbooks.”…

“I wrote an op-ed published on October 26, 2018, entitled Text-Book Free, Not Free Textbooks,” Wendler wrote. “I waited and prodded for campus responses for five years. In some areas, faculty worked diligently to help reduce the use of textbooks and have succeeded in varying degrees. During the ensuing five years, the world has changed remarkably as more information is available from web search engines and generative artificial intelligence (AI) programs, which make possible the development of teaching materials for every course we teach.” …

The [no-confidence] resolution also criticized Wendler’s “encouraging faculty to invest significant time” to create “open-access materials rather than developing or revising materials with traditional publishers.” …”

Costs of scientific journals have reached unsustainable level – The future of subscriptions in jeopardy – FinELib

“Publishers are demanding increasingly higher fees for reading scientific journals and open access publishing, even though the scientific community can’t sustain even the current costs. The expenses have risen to a level that doesn’t correspond to the benefits received from the services….

The consortium is prepared that if the goals are not achieved, it’s possible that not all current scientific journal agreements can be continued….”


News & Views: Can open access be made more affordable? – Delta Think

“One of many ideas being discussed is basing fees upon what is affordable locally, rather than pricing them at an identical level for customers irrespective of their geographic location. Precedents exist, such as the tiered pricing of vaccines….

The APC barrier effect suggests that “APCs impede researchers with fewer resources in publishing their research as OA”. Transformative Agreements (TAs) and Read & Publish (R&P) deals, which may base their pricing on APCs, can bring similar problems of affordability to those of APCs themselves. The expense of subscriptions too, even for the wealthy, has been discussed at length, and their cost is one of the drivers behind advocacy of a move to OA. Affordability is an issue whatever the business model.


Waivers are the usual fix, but they can be problematic. Their implementation varies, and they may be perceived as patronizing or undermining the dignity of those receiving them (“Waivers are a charity; why can we not pay in our own way with our own money?”). Waivers are typically applied based on World Bank income categories, but, as our analysis of its data shows, these may not match affordability….

At first glance, exploring a PPP [Purchasing Power Parity]-based pricing model is attractive. It strikes at the heart of affordability, by accounting for participants’ ability to pay. However, as we have seen, it is not that simple. A move to PPP, in most cases, causes price increases for many (some of which are unexpected) to subsidize the others that need more affordable options. This may result in some controversial changes. That impact would be magnified if publishers attempted to adjust prices upwards overall to counteract market value shrinkage.

A PPP based pricing system, while attractive in principle, would need to be carefully implemented in practice. Prices or pricing tiers would need to account for more than the raw numbers. Optics would need to be carefully considered. There will be winners and losers. And, like William Gibson’s view of the future, they will be unevenly distributed.”

Article Processing Charges in Gold Open Access Journals: An Empirical Study: Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  This study focuses on analyzing the trends in article processing charges (APCs) levied by open access journals. To gather the required data, a CSV file was generated from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The APC values were assessed and converted into standardized currencies, including INR and USD. Among the 17,379 journals included in the DOAJ, only 5,122 journals were found to charge APCs. Through the examination of the collected data, it was discovered that the highest APC amount recorded was INR 518,334.95 (equivalent to USD 6680.46), while the lowest APC observed was INR 1.04 (equivalent to USD 0.013).

The Cost of Success: Exploring the Impact of Textbook Costs at a Hispanic-Serving R1 Institution – Open Praxis

Abstract:  The cost of textbooks is a significant concern for undergraduate students, particularly at institutions serving marginalized populations. This study explores this issue at the University of New Mexico, a Hispanic-Serving R1 institution. A comprehensive survey was conducted among undergraduate students to understand their perceptions of textbook costs and its impact on their academic success. The survey covered aspects such as the perceived reasonableness of costs, budgeting practices, and strategies to manage expenses. The results revealed that high textbook costs significantly affect students’ financial well-being and academic success. Many students perceive these costs as unreasonable, leading to financial strain. Students employ various strategies to manage these expenses, including purchasing from vendors other than the campus bookstore, renting, or sharing books with classmates. This study underscores the need for enhanced support and resources to alleviate the financial burden of textbook costs on students, contributing valuable insights to the literature on this subject.