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Open and Affordable Textbook Initiative @ LMU

This guide is designed to help LMU faculty learn about, discover, adapt, and create open and/or free alternatives to traditional costly course materials.


According to the most recent data published by the LMU Office of Financial Aid (1), an LMU undergraduate will spend an average of $1,971 on books and other supplies in the 2019-2020 academic year. This is significantly higher than the non-profit, four-year national average of $1,210 (2).

The LMU Open & Affordable Textbook Initiative (OATI) empowers departments to explore innovative and less costly ways to deliver quality learning materials to their students through adoption of open educational resources, materials already licensed by the library and university, or other free digital materials available for educational use.

In addition, this initiative is designed to introduce faculty to the benefits that open educational resources (OER) can bring to the teaching and learning experience beyond affordability, including materials that put greater emphasis on access, inclusion, interactivity, and student success.

The 2020 departmental grant of $10,000 – administered to individual faculty involved in the project at the discretion of the department/program chair – was awarded to Dr. Amanda Herring, Dr. Kirstin Noreen, and Dr. Melody Rod-ari from the Art History Department. Information about the 2021 grant cycle will be published here when available.


Open Educational Resources (OER)
Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. (3)

Library or other University-licensed Resources
The term "library or other university-licensed resources" refers to any digital content that the William H. Hannon Library or another unit at LMU (for example, ITS or an individual academic department) purchases or subscribes to, such as e-books, LinkedIn Learning, or MATLAB that are freely accessible for current LMU students. All eligible resources must also be licensed and accessible by multiple simultaneous users. Grant applications that propose the use of library or other university licensed resources will save students money by making use of materials in which the university has already invested. While licensed materials are free for the end-user, they are not open. Moreover, because each resource has its own license and terms of access established by the copyright holder, not every licensed resource will be suitable for course adoption. Librarians can help faculty determine what is permissible.

Freely Available Resources
Many materials available on the internet for free (e.g., TedX, YouTube, museum resources, etc.) are not open by definition due to copyright or other restrictions. But so long as they are free and accessible for students, they are eligible alternatives to commercial products for the purposes of this grant. 

Eligibility & Requirements

The OATI Departmental Grant, generously funded through the Office of the Provost and the William H. Hannon Library, is designed to facilitate departmental level change in the area of course material affordability and open educational resources.

To meet the requirements of this grant, multiple faculty from the same academic department, with the support of their chair, will commit to identifying and evaluating existing sources and/or creating open resources that will replace existing course materials in order to significantly reduce or eliminate the cost to students. The goal is for applicants to move their course materials from the left to the right of the following spectrum. 

course material openness and affordability on a quadrant graph