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A Student's Guide Textbook Affordability Support at VCU Libraries

Coping with Textbook Costs: Advice from VCU Students

The VCU Libraries' Open and Affordable Course Content Initiative

VCU Libraries understands the importance of selecting the right course materials and the burden textbook costs place on students. The Open and Affordable Course Content Initiative (also known as the textbook affordability initiative) supports instructors as they work to transition to zero textbook cost courses, using either open educational resources or library-licensed content. 

The initiative assists faculty as they:

  • Find open, no-cost, or library-licensed materials like ebooks with unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Create and share original works, customized resources, or ancillaries like test banks.
  • Assess students’ perception of materials and the impact on their performance. 

Though this is focused on faculty, the work is done with student concerns and wants in mind. We prioritize championing your needs when meeting with faculty. Your input is key to constructing an initiative that works to the benefit of your education. 


Often times, students feel alone and ill-prepared to tackle the problem of high textbook costs. The Open and Affordable Course Content Initiative is here to offer solutions to this prevailing circumstance.

We talk about the burden of textbook costs on the Textbooks as Social Justice page. 

What is Open and Affordable Course Content?

Affordable Course Content describes any free, low-cost, or openly licensed educational resources that can serve as alternatives to high-cost resources. At VCU libraries, we support free and openly-licensed content in our efforts to reduce textbook costs as much as possible.

We do so in two ways: through the use of our library resources and through open educational resources

What This Means For You

Open Educational Resources and Library resources are not only free for students, but allow for collaborative, flexible learning in and outside of the classroom. 

  • Equitable, day-one access for all students means you no longer have to worry about missing early semester assignments
  • Faculty freedom to customize materials can personalize courses for engaging learning experiences
  • Improved student success, especially for those who are from historically underserved groups, first generation, part-time or Pell grant recipients represented in VCU's diversity
  • Whether it be internships you're currently exploring, or wanting to learn more about possibilities in your field, retaining materials after the end of a semester can help propel you towards long-lasting success.

With the cost of textbooks impacting student success, from which courses students choose, to how well they do in those courses, open and affordable course content can serve as an effective intervention, ensuring all students have access to the materials they need to be successful in their chosen academic path.