Libraries receives IMLS grant for Open Textbook project

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As textbook costs continue to rise, universities are exploring ‘open textbooks’ to relieve their students of some expense while leveraging new technologies for learning and teaching. Recognizing leadership in open textbook programs, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the NCSU Libraries a $49,958 National Leadership Grant for Libraries Programs for the Open Textbook Toolkit project.

The project will explore the need for, and the ideal components of, a subject-specific, simple, flexible, and scalable “toolkit” for the creation and adoption of open textbooks. Focusing on the subject area of psychology, the Libraries will design and conduct a nationwide survey, as well as a series of targeted focus groups, in consultation with stakeholders such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the University of North Carolina Press, Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), the Open Textbook Network (OTN), and the new preprint service PsyArXiv. The project will run from July 2017 through the end of June 2018.

Building on the success of our Alt-Textbook program, the Open Textbook Toolkit project expands the Libraries’ commitment to meeting a growing student need for affordable textbook alternatives in a timely and scalable way. The average college student spends about $1,200 per year on textbooks—and that figure is rising. Awarding grants to faculty to adopt, adapt, or create free or low-cost alternatives to expensive textbooks, Alt-Textbook has saved NC State students more than $500,000 in textbook costs.

The intent of the Open Textbook Toolkit project is to gather information about the practices and needs of psychology instructors who may be interested in adopting or creating open textbooks and open educational resources (OERs), as well as identifying gaps in support for these experts that make it more difficult to create robust, tailored materials. The project will also explore student needs and desires in learning resources and to what extent a toolkit approach would serve the needs of psychology educators and their students.