UMD stores and Kathryn A. Martin Library collaborate to save students money on textbooks
After receiving positive feedback from the trial run of this program last school year, the initiative was taken to a whole new level this school year by working to find ebooks and online materials for students to access for free through the library.
“For fall semester 2018, we were able to identify twenty courses for which we could provide ebooks for students to access for free,” Matthew Rosendahl, the Kathryn A. Martin Library Director said. “If all the students in those courses used these e-books, we had the potential to save students $43,000.”
Library licensed ebooks are one of the options the library has for students to access. Rosendahl explained that these textbooks have no copyright or fee required for students to use them. Another option the library can provide is open access materials. These are “high quality textbooks published online for free.”
“A couple years ago the Chancellor's Office provided a grant for a pilot project where we provided ebooks and print books to support a few courses, and used that experience and the feedback from the participants in the pilot project to guide the development of this service,” Rosendahl said.
Jeff Romano, UMD Stores Director, has made it a priority, alongside other bookstore employees and library staff, to find and offer textbooks as low in price as possible for students.
“We have been working on course material affordability initiatives by trying to identity as many ways as we can to save students money,” Romano said. “[The bookstore] has been working with the library for a few years to compare resources for students.”
Romano shared that every year the bookstore does a savings guide to see how much money students saved on textbooks the previous school year by purchasing a direct digital download option rather than a new or used physical textbook. The 2017-2018 school year savings guide revealed that the maximum total amount of money students could have saved by purchasing a direct download textbook for approximately fifty courses was $764,751.
One of the reasons students often put off buying textbooks is due to high prices. Romano explained that he sees many students delay purchasing course material because they cannot afford to. Romano believes if there is a free textbook or material option for students to access then students should be able to.
“Digital is the way of the future”, Romano said. “It has taken a long time for this transition and for students to feel comfortable with it. The goal is to give students options whether it’s renting, buying used, buying new, or checking-out through the library.”
Karen Bergh, UMD Stores Textbook Manager shared how faculty and professors are reacting to this push to move digital.
“Instructors really like the program we have in place,” Bergh said. “Students are able to have their materials and textbooks on the first day of class. They have the right addition and don’t run into the issue of the bookstore running out of the textbook or materials students need.”
One of Bergh’s duties is communicating with professors and instructors to determine if their course content is an appropriate fit for a digital download textbook and other materials the course requires.
“Anytime we can save students money, faculty will be on board with it,” Bergh said. “I try really hard to find the least expensive option outside of ebooks.”