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Alternative Textbooks: Home

Information on the Alternative Textbook Grant Program for OU Faculty

Quick Facts

Textbook Costs:

  • Average cost of course materials is $1,200/year1
  • 65% of students didn't purchase a textbook because of cost2
  • 48% said textbook costs impact class selection2
  • Because of high textbook costs3
    • 31% of students didn't register for a course
    • 35% took fewer courses
    • 14% dropped a course

Sources: 2Student PIRG Study, 3Florida Student Textbook Survey

Read More about Alternative Textbooks

What is the Alternative Textbook Initiative?

Congratulations to the Summer 2015 Alternative Textbook Grant Award Winners!!

For the second year of our Alternative Textbook Initiative, the OU Libraries made grantees of up to $2,500 available to full time faculty to support the adoption of an alternative textbook. These grants are designed to help support the faculty in transitioning to open course materials.  Dean Kelly Damphousse (an OpenStax textbook user) from the OU College of Arts and Sciences supplied matching grants for all of the CAS faculty awarded through the Library's grant program.  

  • Dr. Katie Berwick-Snell, Associate Professor in Human Relations.  Dr. Barwick-Snell has adopted an open textbook for her course HR 3013, Introduction to Human Relations.  Her previous textbook cost students $128. 
  • Dr. Eli Bridge, Assistant Professor Oklahoma Biological Survey, and Adjunct Assistant Professor Department of Biology.  Dr. Bridge is creating a custom content solutions for his course BIOL 3103, Principles of Physiology, replacing the $200 book he has used previously.  
  • Dr. Shane Brady, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work.  Dr. Brady is creating custom reading lists for his students using OU Library's licensed resources, and web-based content for his course SWK 5763 Community Organizing and Development, saving his students approximately $100 each.  He is also working with to encourage his student to manage their own domains and portfolios.  
  • Dr Sudarshan Dhall, professor in the School of Computer Science, is using an open textbook for the Discrete Structures section of C S 5005 Computing Structures.  
  • Lee Fithian Associate Professor College of Architecture is creating a custom content solution for her course ARCH 6133 - Sustainable Design Analytics, using web and OU Library's resources, replacing a $152 textbook.
  • Dr. Laura Gibbs, lecturer and online instructor is creating an open un-textbook for MLLL-4993 Epics of Ancient India, replacing up to $82 in textbook costs. You can follow Dr. Gibb's work at her Indian Epics Amar Chitra Katha Blog, her OU Digital Tools blog, and Anatomy of an Online Course blog.  You can also read more about her thoughts on open textbooks.  
  • Laniel Gibson Department of Mathematics pre calculus coordinator is using the OpenStax Pre-Calculus to create custom solutions for both Math 1503 College Algebra and Math 1523 PreCalculus with Trigonometry.  This adoption will save approximately 1,700 students over $100 each year. 
  • Dr. Kenneth Haltman,  H. Russell Pitman Professor of Art History is making the use of open and OU Library materials part of the course redesign for AHI 2014 Introduction to Art History: What Is Art  and AHI 2014 Introduction to Art History: The Creative Process.  He is replacing a book that cost students over $260. 
  • Dr. Robert L Kerr, Gaylord Family Professor and Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor in Journalism.  Dr. Kerr is replacing the $180 textbook for JMC 4813 Mass Communication Law with an alternative solution including government resources, open and OU Library content.  
  • Dr. Glen Krutz, Professor in Political Science.  Dr. Krutz plans to use on open textbook for his course P SC 1113, American Federal Government, saving his 300 students over $100 each.
  • Dr. Christian Remling, Professor in the Mathematics Department, is creating an alternative solution for Math 5353 and Math 5363: Abstract Algebra 1 and 2, by using his own course notes as well as some additional open resources, saving students over $100.  
  • Dr. Colin Rhinesmith, Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies.  Dr. Rhinesmith is adopting an alternative solution based on an open textbook for  LIS 5253 - Community Relations and Advocacy.  The previous book was listed at $49.  
  • Dr. Scott Robinson,  Associate Professor and Bellmon Chair of Public Service in the Political Science Department is creating an alternative solution for PSC 5170 / PA 4220 Grants and Contracts, replacing the 3 textbooks previously used and saving student $244.  
  • Dr. Milos Savic, Assistant Professor Department of Mathematics.  Is creating his own open textbooks for Abstract Algebra.  He wll be working on the book over the summer of 2015, and the resulting text will be CC licensed.
  • Dr. Heather Ketchum, Associate Professor, Biology has created her own custom textbook for BIOL 2124 Human Physiology based on the OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology textbook.   The book is available through her open course on Janux, and you can also check out her Physiology videos on YouTube.  Students in her courses can access the book online, saving them $150 each.    


With just these 15 projects, the potential savings for students for one semester's worth of course offerings is over $270,000.  


In the spring and summer of 2014, the University of Oklahoma Libraries awarded 5 grants to faculty in the pilot year of the  Alternative Textbook Initiative.  Through these grants faculty adopted and created open content to use in their classrooms, with a focus on reducing textbook costs for their students and creating custom content solutions for the course.  Winners of the 2014 Alternative Textbook grants were

  • Dr. Diana Bairaktarova Assistant Professor of Engineering Physics, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.
  • Dr. Susan Burke, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Studies
  • Dr. Kurt Gramoll, Robert Hughes Centennial Professor of Engineering, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr. Kun Lu,  Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies 
  • Dr. Paul Sims, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

You can read more about their grant projects and their individual approaches to using open textbooks


Why choose an affordable textbook solution?

According to the U.S. Department of education, the cost of higher education for students increased 42% from 2000 to 2010, and the average cost of materials is now at $1,200 per year as reported by the College Board.   The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 7 in 10 students didn't purchase a textbook because it was too expensive.  

A recent report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs further shows the effect of the high cost of textbooks and materials on students,

  • The survey also found that 94% of students who had foregone purchasing a textbook were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in a course. More than half of the students felt significant concern for their grade.
  • Nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester.

Through Alternative Textbook Solutions, the cost of student materials can be drastically reduced.  Open textbooks also give instructors the ability to customize the materials, creating the "perfect" textbook instead of being bound to traditional print resources. 

There are already faculty at OU using alternative textbooks in their classrooms; you find out more about them on the Current Adoptions page. 

Our initiative is modeled after successful initiatives at


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Jen Waller

Jen Waller
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Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor
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