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Editor’s note: This story is part of our MC faculty and staff series in which professors and/or staff members discuss relevant topics within their areas of expertise. Kari Schmidt is the Library Associate Director, Resources and Collections at the Montgomery College Library.

Faculty Select combines e-books the MC Library already owns that may be suitable for use as e-textbooks, e-books the MC Library can license upon request by faculty members, and Open Educational Resources (OERs).

During the spring 2021 semester, MC Library launched a new service to support faculty in their efforts to offer free access to textbooks in their Blackboard courses and to support equity of access and college affordability for students. The library’s new tool, Faculty Select, is an online self-service platform that MC faculty can use to locate and adopt high-quality, no-cost e-textbooks for their courses. Students in classes where faculty have used Faculty Select and worked with MC librarians to adopt a library-owned e-textbook will have access to their course textbook through their online class site in Blackboard (MC’s learning management system), completely free of charge, and with no barriers to access.

Faculty Select combines three types of resources: e-books the MC Library already owns that may be suitable for use as e-textbooks, e-books the MC Library can license upon request by faculty members, and Open Educational Resources (OERs) from a variety of high-quality repositories. OERs are freely available, openly-licensed materials that may be adopted as alternatives to traditional textbooks that students are required to purchase for the course. Faculty can search the Faculty Select platform to identify an appropriate title(s) and adopt that title for use in their class with just a few clicks.

Because of the COVID emergency and the shift to remote learning, MC Library piloted an e-textbook program in the fall 2020 semester as a means to extend its popular textbook program online. Historically, the in-house print textbook program run through the library’s course reserves accounted for the most-used print collection in the library.

The adoption of free course materials in higher education can represent a significant savings to students who use library-provided or open access course materials instead of having to take on the significant cost of purchasing the texts themselves.

To support remote learning and extend the textbook program online in fall 2020, the library purchased 99 e-books that faculty had assigned as the course textbook. These e-books were used over 7,000 times throughout the fall semester, representing an aggregated potential savings of $128,000 to students enrolled in those courses who could use the library-provided e-book instead of purchasing the title themselves. Likewise, during the spring 2021 semester, the library purchased 107 e-books that faculty had assigned as the course textbook. These e-books were used over 12,000 times throughout the spring semester, representing an aggregated potential savings of $190,000 to students enrolled in those courses who could use the library-provided e-book instead of purchasing the title themselves.

Based on the success of the fall pilot and spring extension of the program, the library invested in the Faculty Select platform to make it even easier for faculty to find and adopt a wide variety of free course texts.

The adoption of free course materials in higher education can represent significant savings to students who use library-provided or open access course materials instead of having to take on the significant cost of purchasing the texts themselves. This practice makes it easier for students from all economic backgrounds and financial situations to afford and access a quality education for a reasonable price. MC Library is proud to support these efforts at Montgomery College.

For more information on Faculty Select and the MC Library’s efforts to support College affordability and equity of access through its textbook program please see the Adopt E-Textbooks for Z Courses webpage.

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