ER&L 2015 – CALMing the cost of textbooks: How to create Affordable Learning Materials on your Campus

#erl15 session pics from Mallory
the audience listens attentively

Speakers: Carmen Mitchell & Barbara Taylor, California State University San Marcos

Cougars Affordable Learning Materials = CALM

Calming the price of textbooks and also faculty who are looking for textbook alternatives. It began in spring 2013 with funding from the Chancellor’s office. The academic technology folks started it and were welcoming when the librarians joined in.

They created a website with information specifically for faculty and for students. They developed a plan and piloted a course as a proof of concept.

The biggest hurdle has been getting the information out to faculty. A clear communication plan with customized presentations/examples will help tremendously. Try to have some funds that can be used as an incentive for faculty to do the research into open education alternatives and adopt them. They paid the faculty in tiers by how much they reduced the materials cost for the course.


  • The bookstore provides faculty booklists and the top 10 most expensive books, and they will purchased custom used books if the faculty member commits to using it for at least 2 years.
  • The faculty center promotes CALM on their website and newsletter.
  • The academic senate resolved to support CALM.
  • They have met with faculty colleges and departments, as well as student groups.
  • The library offers a high speed scanner (with copyright limit explanations).
  • Encouraged faculty to create assignments looking at academic journals.
  • Teaching copyright workshops across campus.
  • Provides additional support for reserves.
  • Faculty training and support for accessibility (ADA).
  • Institutional Planning and Analysis added questions to the student evaluation forms.
  • Worked with publishers to create custom texts with chapters from different books, offer digital rental services, and faculty negotiating lower prices with textbook adoption, and ebook access with the print version.

They are talking about automatically putting all books on reserve the library owns that are on the list from the bookstore. It’s going to be a lot of extra work, but they are pretty sure they are going to do it, at least once.

They are working on creating an API that will take the bookstore list and automatically indicate whether the book is available in the library or not.

They are working on scholarly communication initiatives that encourage faculty to negotiate their author rights for not only articles but books as well.

Some of their ongoing outreach includes creating faculty ambassadors that do the door-to-door work as peers (some of the grant money pays for this). They did a recognition ceremony for the university administration and faculty who were involved. They are also recognizing faculty who have been doing these kinds of things long before the program began. They have some really nice posters — check them out in the slides.

Over two semesters, they saved the students over $413,000 in textbook costs.

They are working with the other CSUs on this, as well as SUNY and Georgia.