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Summer Research project analyzing textbook costs

Lewis Ward '20 and Stephen Krueger, access and outreach services librarian at Randolph, work together in the Lipscomb Library.

Lewis Ward ’20 and Stephen Krueger, access and outreach services librarian at Randolph, work together in the Lipscomb Library.

The average American college student pays around $1,200 for textbooks during any given academic year, according to Stephen Krueger, the access and outreach services librarian at Randolph. This summer, he and Lewis Ward ’20 are teaming up to see how Randolph compares.

For their Summer Research project, Krueger and Ward are examining the maximum and minimum cost of textbooks for each course at Randolph and compiling a comprehensive analysis of textbook costs for each major. The project stems from Krueger’s personal research on open access textbooks, which are licensed under an open copyright license and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.

“I wanted the numbers so that when I go and talk to our faculty about open access resources, we can say ‘For your major, over four years your students will have to spend this much on textbooks,’” Krueger explained. “This could also be helpful when students are looking at bookstore costs versus other options.”

Some Randolph faculty are already incorporating open access textbooks into their classes—or writing their own. Krueger said the research could also be helpful for new and prospective students.

“We don’t know what we’re going to find,” Krueger said. “Maybe it comes out that this is terrible, and we need to put more work into open access. Or, maybe we’ll find out that actually we’re doing pretty well at providing affordable textbooks.”

Krueger and Ward will present their findings at the final presentations for Summer Research on July 6. They will also share their work at the Virginia Library Association’s annual conference in September.


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