Alt-Textbook Project

The NC State University Libraries is committed to fostering change in the current textbook publishing environment. The Libraries’ Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center is available to partner with faculty members on licensing resources, using digital repositories, and creating and publishing their own open educational resources. The Alt-Textbook Project empowers faculty to innovate pedagogically, enhance access for NC State students to high-quality, tailored educational materials, and reduce the financial burden of expensive textbooks.

The Problem with Textbooks

  • Runaway textbook costs on college campuses have become a major impediment to student success.
  • Textbook costs have outpaced inflation by 300% over the last 30 years.
  • Students spend an average of $1,200 per year on textbooks.
  • 7 out of 10 students have forgone purchasing college textbooks because of cost, according to a recent PIRG survey on 13 college campuses.

Open Educational Resources: A Solution

Many alternatives to the current textbook publishing landscape have emerged in the last decade, allowing faculty to easily find and use current, high-quality, free online Open Educational Resources for their courses. Projects such as Open Textbook Library and OpenStax College provide access to free, peer-reviewed textbooks covering a wide variety of subjects, while other initiatives such as OpenStax CNX and Merlot II provide repositories of peer-reviewed open educational materials that can be remixed and customized by faculty who wish to build their own textbook or course materials.

The Pledge

In partnership with the United States Public Interest Research Group, we encourage all faculty members to seek affordable and accessible course materials. USPIRG offers a pledge for faculty members who are committed to these values to sign.

The Alt-Textbook Project

The Libraries awards grants to faculty to adopt, adapt, or create free or low-cost alternatives to expensive textbooks. In Fall 2014, the Libraries awarded the first round of grants, saving NC State students more than $250,000 in the one year. Since then, the Project has become a nationally recognized leader in supporting teaching and learning that is more equitable and effective. The Libraries currently offer two types of grants:

  • Student Success grants designed to support students by using free or low-cost materials that replace an expensive textbook
  • Open Pedagogy grants that support instruction that does something a textbook can’t do. This might be creating a series of videos, designing a Wiki Education course, or experimenting with a way of teaching that’s totally new!

How to Apply

Just complete the form below with information about your course and a brief narrative describing your proposed alternative to a commercial textbook.  All current faculty members of NC State University teaching courses in the 2019-2020 academic year are eligible to apply. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, please contact the Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center.


Will Cross, NC State University Libraries Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center