Sept. 16, 2014 – Students and faculty are invited to peruse a collection of open textbooks on display next to the reference desk on the second floor of Newman Library. Traditional textbooks tend to be very expensive, but open textbooks such as these from OpenStax College have several free online formats (the iBooks are $4.99) and are much cheaper in hardback form (the cost of printing, usually $30-$50). Students interested in reducing textbook costs can take pre-printed information from the display to give to their professors. More information is available in the OpenStax College textbook display FAQ. Our hard copy display should be around for a few weeks, or you can explore the books on the OpenStax website.
Open textbooks benefit faculty as well because they are offered under an open license (the Creative Commons Attribution, or CC-BY, license), allowing faculty to re-use, remix, and adapt course material to their liking. The textbooks are written and peer reviewed by subject experts (usually faculty, who are listed just inside the front cover) and are already in use at many universities, including Virginia Tech, where the Sociology textbook has been used in the SOC 1004 course. Supplemental materials are also available for faculty- for example, there are slides and a test bank for the Sociology textbook.
There are currently nine textbooks available (shown below), with four available soon (Pre-calculus, Chemistry, U.S. History, and Psychology). OpenStax College, a nonprofit publisher based at Rice University, recently announced that 21 titles will be available by 2017.
Open textbooks are just one form of open educational resources (OER), which include openly licensed online simulations, courseware, images, audio, video, tutorials, modular course components and more. Anita Walz, our OER Librarian, organized the textbook display and has created an OER finding guide. There will also be a library webpage on OER available soon. If you are a faculty member interested in reviewing one of these (or other) open textbooks, or are looking for other types of OER, please contact Anita Walz..