No Access, No Value: Advocating for More Equitable Access to Course Resources When Commercial Publishers Fail Us
In June 2020, library workers at the University of Guelph published a news article outlining the challenges of securing access to textbooks in a virtual environment. In it, we named the publishers that simply wouldn’t allow libraries to purchase an electronic version of their textbooks. As we discovered when purchasing textbooks for our course reserves collection, 85% of them can only be purchased in print. Without physical access to the library’s print collection, students who can’t purchase their own materials will have no alternative access.
Since publication, we have been contacted by over 80 academic libraries across Canada, the United States, and Europe, with requests to use the contents in their own communications ahead of the 2020-21 academic year. Why was this article so resonant among academic libraries? Why did we think its publication was necessary?
This session will describe how the closure of our library and resulting lack of access to print course reserves became a catalyst for advocacy and outreach to persuade faculty to replace commercial textbooks with open educational resources (OER) and library-licensed content. Through our efforts to mobilize OER in the past and drawing on research from our 2016 Textbook Broke survey, we’ll discuss how we facilitated cross-team collaboration to mobilize “access as a value,” ultimately developing an approach to faculty outreach, services, and workflows that allowed us to put our values into action. We’ll provide specific examples of the ways in which we succeeded – and failed – to transform the curriculum resources landscape on our campus.