Libraries, Textbooks and Textbook Publishers
Since the spring of 2020, the Library has attempted to acquire course textbooks electronically in line with its commitment to increasing students’ access to information.
This work is complicated by textbook publishers who do not provide electronic purchasing options for libraries. Many existing course textbooks are simply unavailable to any library in formats other than print, regardless of budget. Textbook publishers have built their profit models around selling e-textbooks directly to students. We also know that the cost of textbooks and other course materials are a barrier for students at every university.
This is recognized as an industry problem that impacts everyone in higher education: students, faculty, institutional research output, and grant funding. This can result in prestige and paywalls being inappropriately equated with quality in scholarship evaluation.
Despite the Library’s commitment to make copies of all required textbooks and course materials available to assist those students who are unable to purchase their own, the following publishers will not allow us to purchase an e-textbook version of their publications:
Cengage McGraw Hill Oxford University Press Pearson
This means that in courses that have adopted print or electronic textbooks by these publishers, students will not have any alternative access to the textbook content. Scanning of chapters from print textbooks for placement on electronic reserve is restricted by applicable copyright laws.
In addition, most publishers of popular fiction and popular nonfiction only allow libraries to purchase a single-user access model, which means that only one person at a time can use the eBook. This is not an ideal solution for multiple students in the same class.
Library Supports OERs and Open Principles/Practices
Seattle University’s Open Education Task Force — part of the University’s Reigniting our Strategic Directions — is working to support Seattle University faculty in choosing openly licensed materials for their courses. Open Education Resources (OERs) are available for free or at a low cost. OERs are also licensed under flexible terms that permit faculty to modify materials to promote Seattle University’s values and fit the unique needs of their course.
A commitment to open principles and practices is a necessary strategy for fulfilling our mission. Open principles and practices include approaches that seek the free exchange of information and the removal of financial and legal barriers that limit access to knowledge, data and tools. This manifests as, among other forms: open access (OA) publications, open data, open educational resources (OER), open scholarship, open science and open-source software. We have created a library guide with resources for faculty, staff and students interested in learning more about Open Access Resources.