OpenStax App in front of Hunt library

OpenStax is an app that provides the use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks for students. NC State was one of nine institutions that was chosen for the 2019-2020 school year to participate in the OpenStax program.

NC State has partnered with OpenStax, the largest provider of free Open Educational Resources (OERs), in an effort to drive down textbook costs for college students. OpenStax offers students and staff quality online resources to assist students academically while mitigating financial stress.

Will Cross, director of the Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center, said NC State University Libraries has been working to provide students with lower-cost course materials in the physics department at NC State since 2010. 

“It grows out of work we’ve been doing for coming up on about a decade now, in the libraries and across campus, around reducing the cost of textbooks per student,” Cross said.

According to Cross, OpenStax replaces the “Alt-Textbook Project,” which NC State was using since 2014. The program allowed faculty to mix and match chapters from different books and give course materials to students at no cost.

Now partnered with OpenStax, NC State hopes to make a departmental shift from using textbooks to OERs. David Tully, libraries fellow at NC State, said the university is making small increments toward the goal of departmental adoption of OERs.

According to Tully, the OpenStax initiative is still early in development on campus and should start to become a greater academic resource as it expands in each department. Currently trying to build relationships and establish outreach across campus, University Libraries faces the challenge of marketing the new access to OERs to faculty for it to be implemented in classes. 

Cross said students who prefer hard-copy books will be able to pay a small fee to print out the text, and he encouraged students to take advantage of the other learning materials OERs offer, such as videos and interactive sites.

Tully said ideally, every student on campus would receive access to all their class materials at no cost. He said this ambition would not only be unimaginable for many college students but would also make online degrees and certificates more accessible. 

“There should be an open resource that supports the best version of every faculty member's teaching and every student’s experience,” Cross said.

More information about OpenStax can be viewed at the University Libraries website.