Penn State joining Open Textbook Network to support affordable course content

January 31, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries is joining the Open Textbook Network to help support Penn State faculty’s use of and students’ availability to free, openly licensed academic course content.

“Penn State’s membership in the Open Textbook Network supports faculty and students’ access to a large volume of free, openly licensed course content, available online, to help reduce students’ overall cost of attendance,” Joe Salem, the University Libraries’ associate dean for Learning, Undergraduate Services, and Commonwealth Campus Libraries, said. “Joining the Open Textbook Network was one of the recommendations of the University’s Open Educational Resources Task Force as part of a multi-faceted approach to supporting open and affordable course content throughout the curriculum.”

The Open Textbook Network (OTN) helps support colleges and universities’ instructional use of open textbooks and practices. Its Open Textbook Library is the premiere resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks, all of which are free, openly licensed and complete, according to its website.

The College Board’s Trends in Higher Education estimates that this year’s average public four-year, in-state undergraduate student’s costs for books and supplies is $1,160. In 2015, nine of the network’s early member institutions reported a $1.5 million savings in textbook costs to students. In 2016, that number grew to $3.1 million in student savings.

Penn State is among the largest universities to join OTN, which was established in fall 2015, and an early supporter among its peer institutions. Other Big Ten Academic Alliance members participating in OTN include the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, and the Milwaukee and Stout campuses of the University of Wisconsin system.

OTN members agree to hold an on-campus workshop led by the network’s experts to support faculty adoption of open textbooks, train a campus representative to facilitate future workshops, and help OTN collect measurably, evidentiary support of open textbooks’ impact for their institution’s students. To help ensure its open textbooks’ quality, faculty from OTN member schools are invited to review their faculty peers’ textbooks in the Open Textbook Library. According to OTN, 70 percent of its textbooks’ reviews have four stars or higher, and all reviews and comments are freely available.

Penn State’s University Libraries is conducting a national search to fill a new open education librarian position that will serve as Penn State’s OTN representative. The Libraries also will host Penn State’s OTN workshop, which will be available to faculty at all Penn State campuses via live-streaming, in fall 2017 during International Open Access Week, Oct. 23-29. This event follows the University’s first Open Educational Resources Summit, hosted by the University Libraries in spring 2016. Details about the fall 2017 workshop will be announced as they become available.

The Open Textbook Network is centered at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Open Education in the College of Education and Human Development. The network’s open textbooks are published under a Creative Commons license and are freely available to download, adapt and distribute.

For more information about Penn State’s membership in the Open Textbook Network, part of our the University’s overall open and affordable course content initiative, contact Joe Salem. For more information about open educational resources at Penn State, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 08, 2017