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USF Library promotes program created to lower textbook costs

The USF Library is working to promote the Textbook Affordability Project (TAP) to professors with the aim to lower textbook costs for students. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE.

With a plan to inform professors about the less costly textbook options they could assign to students, the USF library is aiming their Textbook Affordability Project (TAP) toward faculty members.

Launched in 2010, TAP is designed with the purpose of providing affordable textbook options and solutions for students who are often burdened with course material expenses. According to Collegeboard.org, students in four-year public universities spent about $1,250 on books and supplies in 2017-18.

Under the TAP initiative, the library offers solutions such as open-access textbooks, textbooks on reserve and e-books for the classroom, which generally include no cost at all.

Todd Chavez, the dean of USF libraries, said the project has been increasingly effective, but there is still progress to be made. According to Chavez, reaching professors who don’t know about TAP will continue the progress the initiative has made.

Chavez said there are many options professors could take to help their students.  

“They can work with TAP to explore the possibility of using free OER (open educational resources) textbooks,” Chavez said. “They are increasingly being made available at no cost to students. The library also buys electronic books all the time for the collections. Faculty can adopt those e-books and use them instead of a traditional textbook.”

Having professors use the library’s textbook solutions and alternatives isn’t the only difference faculty can make, according to Chavez. He said professors could push publishers for change regarding the cost of books.

“Publishers speak to faculty on a regular basis, and they want them to use, author and review their books,” Chavez said. “The publishers are dependent on the faculty in every regard, so they have a lot of power there. I can tell you that, in USF, faculty are putting pressure on publishers and they are telling them, ‘You got to do something about this.’”

While faculty who know about TAP work to provide better options for students, Chavez said he’s in the process of getting all faculty and department chairs aware of the initiative.  

When sharing an example on the impact TAP is making, Chavez said one assistant professor worked with the library and faculty in the College of Nursing to help their students. Without changing the quality of the Nursing program, they reduced the credit-hour cost of books from $60 to $31 per credit hour.  

Though this is a huge success for Chavez, he admits that cuts like these aren’t going to happen all the time. However, he assures that any reduction in cost is a step in the right direction.

“It won’t be like that in every department,” Chavez said. “but if we can do it wherever we can, the overall cost for students will go down, and that’s what we’re after.”  

Under the awareness campaign he established, Chavez said he’s planning an event that consists of a breakfast with a presentation where professors from specific departments can learn about the project and what they can do.

“They are going to be presented with data that allows them to make the very best choices for the students in terms of the affordability of the material,” Chavez said.