California Establishes Open Source Textbook Library for Students

California Establishes Open Source Textbook Library for Students

Posted by Carly B. Boxer on October 3, 2012 in Blog, Featured.

This past Thursday, September 27th, the California State Senate approved two bills aimed at increasing access to and decreasing the financial burden of textbooks for students at California state postsecondary institutions.

The first bill, SB 1052, mandates the creation of 50 digital open source textbooks. In order to do so, SB 1052 establishes the 9 member California Open Education Resources Council; this council is responsible for identifying the 50 lower-division courses at California state universities and community colleges for which low-cost, open source textbooks will be developed. The council, comprised of faculty representatives from University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges, would also establish a “competitive request-for-proposal process in which faculty members, publishers, and other interested parties would apply for funds” in order to produce textbook content.

The second bill, SB 1053, establishes the California Digital Open Source Library, a repository for the textbooks created in accordance with these two new bills. According to SB 1053, any textbook created to comply with California’s new regulations will be placed under a Creative Commons attribution license and will be available to students and faculty outside the state; as the bill’s text puts it, students and faculty will therefore be able to “easily find, adopt, utilize, or modify course materials for little or no cost.”

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to curb the cost of textbooks by offering students “in 50 strategically selected lower division courses the highest quality textbooks and related materials for free online or for about $20 per hardcopy.” SB 1053, meanwhile, stipulates that this legislation should not be “construed to mandate faculty use of any particular textbook or related materials,” but rather as new, more flexible alternative to higher-cost, hardcopy textbooks.

Photo courtesy of John Liu on Flickr; used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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