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Milner Library celebrates Open Education Week, March 5-9

library books on a shelf

Open Education Week is an annual event celebrated by universities, libraries, and K-12 schools around the world. The goal of Open Education Week is to raise awareness of free and openly-licensed classroom materials.

These materials are referred to as Open Educational Resources (OER) and can include peer-reviewed textbooks, videos of lectures, assignments, lesson plans, and any other learning device that are freely available online and are licensed so others can reuse them. This year, Open Education Week is taking place March 5-9. Each day of the week, Milner Library will share on their social media accounts a resource or issue related to making course materials more affordable. Be sure to follow Milner Library on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn how to use and benefit from  OERs at Illinois State University.

“Libraries have long been in the affordability business, so along with considering free and adaptable resources, we encourage faculty to use library services that can bring down costs for students.” Anne Shelley

Instructors can use OERs in their teaching to help make higher education more affordable for students and their families. Nationally, the estimated annual cost for books and supplies at public universities is around $1,200; at Illinois State, the number is around $950. From 2006 to 2016, textbook prices rose 88 percent.

“As the cost of higher education increases for students, expensive textbooks become more and more of a burden,” says Anne Shelley, Milner Library’s scholarly communication librarian. “The first several weeks of every semester, hundreds of ISU students ask library staff to help them find copies of their textbooks. Even if they can afford to purchase or rent books using financial aid, checks often don’t come through in time for the start of classes, so student access to readings is delayed and that can negatively affect their grades, not to mention frustrate instructors.”

A 2016 Florida Virtual Campus survey reveals that over 66 percent of students did not purchase a required textbook due to cost, 24 percent shared a book with a friend, and over 37% felt that the high cost of textbooks caused them to earn a poor grade in a course.

Milner Library’s scholarly communication librarian, Anne Shelley.

“Libraries have long been in the affordability business, so along with considering free and adaptable resources, we encourage faculty to use library services that can bring down costs for students, such as print and electronic course reserves, e-books, and the many different resources—articles, data, news, streaming video and audio, and primary sources—that the library offers through databases,” says Shelley.

This past summer, Milner Library and Illinois State University joined an organization called the Open Textbook Network. With over 600 institutional and consortial members, the Network supports student success through its management of the Open Textbook Library. Books in the Open Textbook Library are free for Illinois State University students to download as a PDF and print, or students can read them for free online. Most of the books have been reviewed by higher education instructors, so faculty who are thinking about adopting an open textbook have an idea of its quality and relevance for a course they are teaching. The Open Textbook Library contains over 450 free textbooks in a variety of disciplines. The books can be found in the Milner Library catalog or on the Open Textbook Library website.

You can learn more about OERs, the Open Textbook Library, and affordable course resources available to Illinois State faculty through this online library guide. Shelley ( and subject librarians are available to answer questions and to meet with faculty who want to explore adopting more affordable resources.

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