Open Education Resources

The Wyndham Robertson Library is dedicated to providing access to books and films for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. As part of this work, the library is partnering with faculty to identify open educational resources and library-subscribed resources that may be used as required course materials, in place of traditional expensive textbooks. (For more information about open education resources and the skyrocketing costs of textbooks, see:

What our students say about the rising costs of traditional textbooks

“I’m still paying for books from last year on the same credit card.”
“I’ve had to put off taking some of my political science classes because I can’t afford the textbooks.”
“If I’m a disgruntled student because of textbook prices, and you’re a disgruntled professor because no one is buying your textbook, what kind of environment does that create? What kind of trust does that create?”

Faculty response

The following faculty have implemented open textbooks in one or more classes;

  • Pablo Hernandez, Associate Professor, Economics – Microeconomics
  • Emese Kennedy, Visiting Assistant Professor, Mathematics – Calculus (all courses)
  • Karen Messer-Bourgoin, Visiting Professor of Practice-Business – Intro to Business
  • Tiffany Pempek, Associate Professor, Psychology – Introduction to Psychology, Children and Media
  • Alane Presswood, Visiting Assistant Professor, Communication Studies and Director of Oral Communication – Public Speaking

What the library does

  • Works with faculty to identify alternative texts or films for use as required course materials that may be free or less expensive for students
  • Reviews course textbook lists to identify texts, which are available for purchase and campus-wide online access
  • Provides forums for faculty to learn about open educational resources (examples include two 2018 workshops on open textbooks, a spring 2016 faculty learning community, a fall 2015 program on OER for the campus community)

Our impact

In the spring semester of 2015, the library purchased unlimited campus access to seven books across five HU courses, allowing students in those courses to opt out of buying the book if desired. Students and faculty viewed those books 585 times during the semester, for an average cost/use of $0.78. Because of the strong usage, and positive feedback from students and faculty involved in the pilot, the library continues to purchase access to course texts when available.

Beginning in the fall of 2016, Hollins calculus courses converted from traditional textbooks to open textbooks, saving each HU calculus student up to $250 and ensuring that all students in the course had access to the text and equal opportunity to learn and succeed. In the fall 2016 semester alone, this switch saved Hollins’ students about $6,000. “I plan on using open source textbooks for all my classes in the future if possible,” said Emese Kennedy, visiting assistant professor of mathematics and the calculus instructor. “Using open resources means that all students can have equal access to course materials regardless of their budget restrictions.”

For Students

The library links to required course texts (if available online) through its Reserves database. You can search the database here, by professor name or by course number, to see if your course has print materials on reserve in the library or available online books/films.

For Faculty

Want to learn more about how you can use library-subscribed resources as part of your course readings/viewings? Check out our video here:

Open Educational Resources (OER) from Wyndham Robertson Library on Vimeo.