Cheaper textbooks

Robin Bridges, Editor in Chief

Textbooks are expensive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2006 and 2016 the cost of college tuition and fees increased 63 percent. In the same period of time, the cost of textbooks has risen 88 percent.  

On Sept. 26, four congressional Democrats introduced a bill that seeks to make textbooks more affordable.

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota submitted S.1864.  At the same time, U.S. Representative Jared Polis of Colorado and Krysten Sinema of Arizona introduced H.R. 3840. These bills are both known as the Affordable College Textbook Act.

The bills seek to expand access to and use of open educational resources for universities across the country.

According to the United Nations, open educational resources are any educational material that can be found in the public domain,  anything from lecture notes to textbooks. The purpose of these materials is that anyone can legally copy, use, adapt and reshare them around the world.

The act seeks to do this by making an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965. The act was designed to provide higher education opportunities to middle and lower income families, as well as to grow small and less developed universities. This act currently funds Title IV programs such as Trio student success, Pell grants work-study programs, Direct loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Family Education Loans and many others.

The bill was put together by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. SPARC focus on issues such as open access publishing, digital repositories, authors rights and open access policies locally, nationally and internationally.

SPARC promotes the internet and the free, immediate availability of research and the rights to use articles in a digital environment. They’ve worked on other legislation such as FASTR Act and the OPEN Government Data Act.

OPEN stands for Open, Permanent, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act.  It was first introduced under President Barack Obama in April of 2016 to make law his 2013 executive order that made government data accessible, easy to find and usable. It was reintroduced in Congress in March as a bipartisan bill.

FASTR stands for Fair Access to Science and Technology Research. This bill was reintroduced in Congress in August of this year. This bill would require agencies with a budget of $100 million or more to provide public online access to research manuscripts no later than six months after they are published.

NEIU’s library offers a variety of open access options for faculty and students. The library allows student access to hundreds of databases and journals with their NEIU log in. The library also provides a guide for faculty and professors to set up open educational resources, course reserves, and library textbook purchase program.