Alt-Textbook Project

The NC State University Libraries is committed to fostering change in the current textbook publishing environment. The Libraries’ Open Knowledge 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 of 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.

Student Advocacy

As students, your voice is important in this cause. If you're interested in finding ways to advocate for textbook affordability on our campus then here are some ways in which you can become involved:

  • Click here to sign the petition to support free course material options/OER 
  • Talk to your professors about OER and refer them to the Libraries for expert support (see below for information on the Alt-Textbook Project)
  • Join the NC State University chapter of NCPIRG. NCPIRG are a Campus Action program started by the Student PIRGs and is committed to helping students make positive change. 

The Pledge

In partnership with the United States Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), we encourage all faculty members to seek affordable and accessible course materials. You can learn more about the efforts of the NC State chapter of USPIRG here:, fill out an interest card to get involved here, and sign the petition for OER resources here 

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 offers the following Open Education grants to NC State faculty instructors: 

  • Review an Open Textbook to help you find an open textbook that would be appropriate for your class or a class in your department and review it with the potential to later adopt it as course materials. 
  • Adapt/Adopt/Create an Open Textbook grants are designed to support students by using free or low-cost materials that replaces a textbook they otherwise must purchase. 
  • 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!
  • Department/Group Adoption supports collaborative projects with at least two instructors taking part in adopting/adapting/creating open textbooks into their course(s). 

How to Apply

Click on one of the links below and enter 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 2022-2023 academic year are eligible to apply. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, please contact the Open Knowledge Center.

Application Deadline

Applications are due by Friday, December 9th, 2022. 


Will Cross, NC State University Libraries Open Knowledge Center