UTSA Libraries & Textbooks

Innovative Strategies to Support Roadrunners

Strategies: Textbook Access

UTSA Libraries is poised for increased online teaching and learning and is deploying several strategies to provide barrier-free textbook access. 

Adopt a Free Textbook Grant ProgramIlluminated sign with the text open

Open educational resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or that have been released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others, including full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” 

UTSA Libraries began leading the campus OER effort in 2016, partnering with OpenStax. The library is a member of the Open Education Network and the Texas Digital Library with connections to many other networks that support OER adoption and innovation. In partnership with Academic Innovation, UTSA Libraries has launched UTSA Pressbooks, an OER publishing platform, positioning UTSA as a future leader in OER authorship in Texas. 

Program Structure

Adopt a Free Textbook Grant Program: Structure
Grant Example License Goal Award Range
No Cost UTSA Libraries E-Book None $500-$2,000
OER OpenStax Book Creative Commons $1,000-3,000
Design Remixing OpenStax Book Creative commons $3,500-$10,000

Investment, Savings and ROI

Since 2016, the library has awarded 138 faculty grants, with a total investment of $182,000, yielding a staggering $10 million in student savings with a return on investment of $48 for every dollar spent. The library leads the campus in OER expansion and growth, nurturing faculty and campus partnerships in support of increased OER and affordable textbook adoption.  

Adopt a Free Textbook Grant Program Investment, Savings and ROI
Year Grants Awarded Investment Student Savings ROI
2016 5 $7,500 $376,000 $50
2017 24 $49,000 $4,438,000 $88
2018 18 $32,000 $1,700,000 $53
2019 21 $27,000 $985,172 $36
2020 29 $31,500 $791,316 $25
2021 31 $35,000 $2,106,482 $60
2022 13 $25,000 $205,583 $24
Total 138 $207,000 $10,602,553 $48

John Peace Library 2nd Floor High Enrollment Courses

For high impact courses, the library has prioritized purchase, licensing, and lending of textbooks for many years through the reserves textbook purchasing program. With this program, textbook purchases occur automatically for high enrollment UTSA courses, ensuring that enrolled students have access to required readings.

Other Courses

For any other courses, the long-established library Reserves service puts library resources at the fingertips of faculty. Faculty submit reserve requests through the Library Reading List Tool in Blackboard or through the Course Reserves Form.

E-Textbook Hurdles

The e-textbook publishing landscape poses many complicated hurdles for libraries: the Libraries acquire reserve textbooks as e-books when possible but also offer print and Digital Reserves when they are not.

Library Reading List Tool Powered by Leganto

During the Spring 2022 semester, UTSA Libraries-in partnership with Academic Innovation-implemented the Library Reading List Tool powered by Leganto in Blackboard. Library Reading Lists tie in to Library QuickSearch and streamline the ability of faculty to utilize the library’s collection in their courses. Instructors can build, maintain, and share resource lists that include all material types available at the library. Students will be able to access course materials easily in one place and from any device.

Immediate Access: Significance

Higher Test Scores & Lower DFW Rates

A systematic review of 16 studies was published in 2016 by John Hilton. That review uncovered that students that use OER had higher test scores and lower DFW rates compared to students that used a commercial textbook. 

Across these 16 studies:1) the students had higher test scores and lower DFW rates and 2) both students and faculty felt the OER were of the same or better quality than commercial textbooks. Both groups appreciated the flexibility and currency of the OER. Students appreciated the low price.

Equity in Access

A 2018 study at the University of Georgia has even greater implications for OER and their impact on learning and equity. The study ran over the course of 6 years and over 21,000 students enrolled in entry-level courses participated.  Of the 21,000 students, just over 11,000 used commercial textbooks and 10,000 used OER. The results?

  • Switching to OER increased A’s and A-minuses in the courses by 5.5% and 7.73% percent respectively
  • Number of students who dropped, withdrew, or failed fell by 2.68%
  • DFW rates decreased dramatically for student populations receiving financial aid, that were non-white or enrolled part-time

Additional Readings