Alternative Textbook Initiative

Announcing the ACU Alternative Textbook Initiative Pilot


Proposals are no longer being accepted!



To support ACU faculty in their efforts to replace traditional commercial textbooks with academically equivalent alternatives that are available at no cost to students.


Project Overview

The Provost and the University Library Committee share a concern about textbook affordability and its impact on student success, while recognizing that it is the prerogative of faculty to select the course materials that are most appropriate for a class. Through this pilot grant for courses offered in fall 2018, the Provost’s Office is supporting selected faculty to identify and utilize low- and no-cost options for textbooks, including open access textbooks, as long as there is no reduction in the quality of the course. The cost of college textbooks is often a major affordability issue for students, who take on additional loan debt to pay for textbooks, or undercut their own learning by forgoing the purchase of textbooks.  Open access textbooks* can offer an affordable, comparable, and sometimes superior alternative to commercial textbooks.

*Definition of Open Access Textbook: Textbooks that are digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.


Selection Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by members of the ULC, representatives of the library and Innovation Foundry staff. The deadline to submit the proposal is Friday, March 30, 2018 (11:59pm) and notification of award will be by Friday, April 6, 2018.

Five $1000 grants will be awarded on the basis of:

  1. Purpose: proposals must plan to replace at least one required textbook with an open access textbook for at least one class. Replacing textbooks that are the course’s primary textbook, or that are required for more than one class, will strengthen the application.
  2. Quality: instructor’s relative confidence in the precision and pedagogy of the alternative textbook.
  3. Efficiency: potential financial savings to ACU students
  4. Scope of Audience: number of ACU students impacted in one semester
  5. Sustainability: ability and intention to utilize the new textbook in the applicant’s future courses
  6. Scalability: potential applicability to sections of the course taught by other faculty
  7. Timeliness: ability to be implemented by Fall Semester 2018.


Projects Not Eligible

  • Ebooks purchased or otherwise licensed by ACU Library.
  • OA Textbooks or other Open Educational Resources (OER) previously used in the faculty member’s existing courses.
  • Courses taught by part-time or adjunct faculty


Academic Support

As with traditional textbooks, searching for and selecting an alternative textbook can be complicated and benefit from the input of colleagues.  There are a number of standard resources for locating Open Access Textbooks, which ACU Librarians have listed here.

Please reach out to to request assistance in finding an appropriate alternative open access textbook, if one exists. In late February and early March, there will be two faculty workshops offered in the ACU Library on the topic of selecting and using Open Access textbooks and one workshop offered on copyright. Times and locations for these workshops are listed below:

– Tuesday, February 27 (Innovation Foundry, 12pm-1pm)
Using OER Textbooks

Title: Making the Case for Textbook Affordability: Using Open Educational Resource Textbooks
What are Open Education Resources (OER) and why should we use them? What are the benefits of OER to faculty and students? How do they compare with commercial textbooks? Come learn about the philosophy behind OER and how to locate and evaluate open educational content, including open textbooks, to use in your courses.

– Thursday, March 1 (Adams Center, 11:30am-1pm)
Copyright and Fair Use Workshop

Title: Two Librarians Tackle Copyright and Fair Use: PANE, TEACH, IP, CC, OER Hike!
Description: Copyright law can be complicated when deciding what resources to use in the classroom, Canvas, or giving advice to students for papers, presentations, and other projects. Join Melissa Atkinson, Online Learning Librarian, and Erica Pye, Research and Instruction Librarian, to learn about fair use, the TEACH Act, Intellectual Property, Creative Commons, and how to find free Open Educational Resources like music, videos, and images. Come with questions and we’ll tackle them together!

In addition, the  Innovation Foundry ( will assist with the implementation of Open Access textbooks and related course support systems in Canvas. If you are accustomed to using a course management program to assist with assessment (e.g., quizzes) and or discussion/labs, please be aware that there are a number of similar options for Open Access textbooks. We can assist in identifying if a good option exists for your course.

Application Process

Click here to submit proposals that include the following:

  • Course for which you wish to incorporate an open access textbook
  • Title and cost (lowest identifiable new condition) of the textbook that you would like to replace
  • Provide us with the Title and web link to your proposed open access textbook
  • Provide a summary of your interest in doing this project, your background (if any) in working with open access materials, the nature of the course modifications you would like to pursue, and any challenges or barriers you anticipate in carrying out your plans. We are interested in learning about what you would like to do, and what the impact of your efforts on this course and/or other courses at the University will be (750 words or less).
  • Grant recipients will meet once this spring with other faculty participants in order to discuss their plans for the fall semester and will share the results of their efforts during a lunchtime presentation next spring.