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Drexel Libraries Works to “Design Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge” through Open Textbook Initiatives

November 2, 2018

Each October librarians, publishers, researchers, and other members of the academic and research communities celebrate International Open Access Week, a global, week-long event to promote Open Access (OA).

This year, the theme of Open Access Week (held October 22 – 26) was “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.” This was the perfect complement to the Drexel Libraries’ commitment to facilitating the introduction of OA resources into the curriculum to lower textbook costs and ensure equal access to course materials for students.  A black board covered with pink and blue circles of paper.

The Libraries used OA Week 2018 as an opportunity to better understand Drexel students’ experiences and inspire them to think about open education resources. Throughout the week, the Libraries asked students to answer the question, “How do you manage the high price of textbooks?”

Responses varied from, “I borrow my textbooks through the Libraries’ EZ-Borrow service,” to “I share with course mates,” to “I find the cheapest alternative online.” Some simply reported, “I don’t buy them.” 

The common thread among these responses is obvious: textbooks are expensive.  

Criticism of the high price of textbooks is not new. Students have long decried the cost of course materials, and high price tags can impede students’ academic success, especially because many now avoid purchasing costly materials altogether.

The Drexel Libraries, along with many other academic organizations, sees Open Textbooks—textbooks that are free, peer-reviewed and openly licensed—as one option for reducing the cost of course materials.

That’s why, in June, the Libraries joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN), a global consortium of academic institutions that works to promote access, affordability and student success using open textbooks. The Libraries initiated this membership on behalf of the University to leverage the Network’s resources to bring open textbooks and other open education resources and programs to Drexel over the coming months.

As part of this initiative, in December the Libraries and leaders from the OTN will offer training workshops for Drexel faculty interested in incorporating open textbooks in their courses. The Libraries is also recruiting Libraries Faculty Fellows to help promote open textbooks on campus. Appointed Fellows will work with the Libraries to explore, evaluate and advocate for open education resources to the Drexel faculty community.

The Libraries hopes that these efforts enable faculty to change their teaching habits without compromising quality and ultimately lower students’ expenditures for required course readings, making a Drexel education more accessible to all.

Read more about the Libraries’ work to bring affordable resources to campus online at