The “Course Reserves, Library Resources, Oh My!: How We Contribute to Affordability Beyond OER” e-Forum was held on November 14-15, 2023. It was moderated by Christina Getaz (Caldwell University), D’Arcy Hutchings (University of Alaska Anchorage), and Donna Maher (University of Maine at Augusta). Participants in this e-Forum work in a variety of academic library contexts across the United States.
The first day’s questions prompted participants to share about their contexts and about their institutions’ textbook affordability and course reserves programs.
- Day 1 Question 1 asked about textbook affordability or similar programs. Textbook affordability work that was mentioned includes librarian and/or instructional designer support for faculty in finding and using OER, monetary honorariums, LibGuides that provide information about OERs, and zero textbook cost designations in the course catalog.
- Day 1 Question 2 asked about course reserves. Our discussion included comparisons of format (print or digital) that make up our reserves collections, whether we purchase textbooks or not, the challenges of textbooks with access codes, and the varied relationships that e-reserves can have with learning management systems like Blackboard and Canva.
- Day 1 Question 3 asked about assessment of the two programs we’d talked about earlier in the day. We didn’t hear from anyone about whether or how their institutions assess the reserves program but we did hear a bit about assessing textbook affordability efforts. Methods include faculty and student surveys, textbook costs/savings, and number of zero textbook cost courses.
The second day’s questions sought to draw connections between – or identify limitations of – library services like course reserves and textbook affordability. The discussion included course reserves’ role in textbook affordability, other things libraries do to support affordability, and marketing library work in this area.
- Day 2 Question 1 asked about the extent to which reserves contribute to textbook affordability. The consensus was that eReserves can be a replacement for commercial textbooks when faculty use them to make curated readers (like an improved digital version of a course pack) and that print reserves cannot be considered a commercial replacement due to limited access concerns. We compared notes on eReserves tools and practices as well as print options for OpenStax textbooks.
- Day 2 Question 2 asked us to think about the ways libraries contribute to reducing textbook costs beyond reserves and OER-specific work. eBooks and streaming video were specifically mentioned and the discussion led to the conclusion that communication with faculty is key for making sure they are using materials that won’t disappear mid-semester. A participant shared their spectrum of affordability model which shows where various course materials options fall, including the use of library resources.
- Day 2 Question 3 focused on marketing or promoting the things we do. Ideas included presentations, events, and trainings to/for faculty, students, and others; building and leveraging library-faculty relationships; faculty utilizing library instruction in courses (tutorials and librarians as guest lecturers); entries in newsletters, campus newspaper, and campus radio; and maintaining information on the library website or a LibGuide.
Through this discussion, threads that emerged included the following:
- Libraries contribute to textbook affordability in a number of ways!
- Specific aspects of course reserves programs and textbook affordability programs vary by institution.
- There are limitations to using library materials, including course reserves materials, for textbook replacement.
- Marketing, including librarian-faculty communication, is essential for maximizing a library’s impact on textbook textbook affordability.