Imagine a world without costly textbooks: OER Committee, ASUHWO, and the library can

photo of a woman standing in front of a shelf of textbooks and reaching up to get one.

Jessica Manapul, an ACM senior and library circulation student assistant, shows off the Course Reserve Collection at the James & Abigail Campbell Library.  A Lending Library funded by the ASUHWO and a Title III grant will expand the number of textbooks available for use for free in the library.

Campus groups attempting to address the sometimes prohibitive cost of textbooks will take a step toward solving the problem in the Spring 2019 semester.

They plan to open a Lending Library to make textbooks for certain classes with large enrollments available to use for free. Students will be able to check out the books at the James & Abigail Campbell Library’s circulation desk and use them in the library for two-hour intervals.

The UH West Oʻahu’s Open Educational Resources Committee, student government, and the library hope to eventually purchase and make available more than 120 textbooks for courses with 50 or more students enrolled.  

The program is one of three textbook affordability initiatives being pursued by the UH West Oʻahu Open Educational Resources (OER) Committee, the Associated Students of UH West Oʻahu (ASUHWO), and the library, and will take its place alongside an existing faculty program with textbooks available through the Course Reserve Collection at the library’s Circulation Desk.

These materials are made available by faculty members for students to use, according to Michiko Joseph, interim library director and a member of the OER Committee.

The current list of items in the Course Reserve Collection can be found here: Forty professors, instructors and lecturers have made materials available ranging from books to DVDs to e-books.

Photo of a student handling a book

Manapul displays one of the books available currently through the Course Reserves Collection. Books from classes with high enrollments will be available through the Lending Library.

The move to address textbook costs comes after a student survey earlier this year that found UH West Oʻahu students worried about textbook prices, and that text books influenced their registration decisions. The survey, sponsored by the UH West Oʻahu OER Committee and ASUHWO, found a majority of the survey’s 274 respondents reported spending between $101 and $400 per semester on textbooks. More than half of the students responded said textbook costs caused them significant concern.

“The high cost of textbooks has been an ongoing issue for students,” said Sabrina-Kuuipo Magdato, ASUHWO treasurer, in an email. The textbook purchases will be funded with $4,000 ASUHWO has budgeted to the endeavor, along with funds from a Title III grant.  

Magdato also sits on the Open Educational Resources Committee, which was formed in the summer of 2017 and includes a student government representative, instructional faculty, and Library staff among its members. The committee is pursuing three initiatives that share a goal of lowering textbook outlays for students. In addition to the Lending Library, these are:

  • Open Educational Resources. As the name implies, Open Educational Resources (OER) are open-source materials that are freely available for teachers and students to use.  The committee hopes to raise awareness of OER and offer training and workshops for faculty next year to encourage the adoption of more OER textbooks. The program is part of a larger Open Educational Resources movement to make teaching and educational materials freely available through digital content hubs and other collections.  Other University of Hawaiʻi System campuses are also exploring OER.
  • Textbook Cost: $0.  This program promotes the TC $0 designation for classes that do not require students to make out-of-pocket purchases on course materials, such as textbooks, bundled access codes, supplemental readings, homework or testing modules, and other items. ASUHWO has pledged to help promote the list of classes and on Monday, Nov. 19, sent a document showing the classes to students.  The 47-course list for Spring 2019 can be found here: All other UH System campuses are also pursuing similar programs.

The student government group is also promoting the Course Reserve Collection by sending out a link to the list of 94 items currently on reserve:  Plans call for the list to be updated as items are added, so the total of textbooks available will balloon as the Lending Library program progresses.

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff