Thanks to the efforts of The Thrift Library of Anderson University, students collectively experienced just over a million dollars in cost avoidance over a three-year period through eTextbooks.
According to Library Director Kent Millwood, one in 20 books available to students were eTextbooks in the spring of 2019. This past fall, that number rose to one in four.
“There’s a really positive impact having free textbooks because so many students struggle financially to pay for textbooks,” Millwood said, adding that studies link offering free textbooks digitally to improved grades, reduced withdrawals and improvements in retention and graduation rates. He also feels this option is important to share with prospective students considering enrolling at Anderson University.
“If we have an eTextbook and one student uses that eTextbook, I get more circulation, but if I have a new textbook and 20 in a classroom are using it on a regular basis, statistics explode. So it’s good for the students, it’s good for the library—it’s a ‘win-win’,” Millwood said.
He also adds that AU Outfitters, the Anderson University campus store, has been cooperative in sharing lists of required textbooks. He regularly shares with faculty members digital options as they choose textbooks for their classes. Savings estimates take into account prices a student would pay for their required books through Amazon, a popular choice for purchases.
“Some commercial textbooks come with ‘bells and whistles’ such as online test banks and other online help for students and faculty that are not available for purchase by libraries. Others are deliberately set back to protect their sales,” Millwood said. “We will never be able to supply everything. Our current rate of one eTextbook in four is higher than I ever imagined possible and is a direct result of faculty making an effort to switch from titles unavailable to libraries to those that are.”
Millwood sees this trend continue to work in favor of the student.
“It’s growing, and the faculty are responding to it by making an effort to get an unlimited use e-book, which means they’re having to swap from one they used to a different one,” Millwood said. “We help them find textbooks if they need help.”
Details about Thrift Library’s eTextbook initiative can be found online at andersonuniversity.libguides.com/textbooks.