When academic librarians gather to share information about textbook affordability initiatives, the college bookstore position is invariably debated. That conversation is typically more about uncertainty than a concrete understanding of the relationship between the library, campus OER partners and the college bookstore. It is also the case that this relationship is shaped by the nature of the institution and how the college store is operated. Some of the frequently heard issues are;
- How will the college store react to a campus textbook affordability initiative
- Will the college store share information about textbooks and data on student textbook purchasing
- How will an affordability initiative impact the revenue a college store contributes to the institution
- Does it make a difference if the college store is run by the institution or outsourced to a for-profit retailer
- Can the college store be a partner in the OER initiative, and if so, what role can the bookstore play
- Why do some OER project leaders report productive relationships with college store managers while others report frustration and lack of progress.
The volume of questions with few answers suggests higher education needs to better understand what happens when an institution launches a textbook affordability project, and how that impacts the college store and its response. This presentation is based on a survey of academic libraries and college stores that have initiated some form of textbook affordability project that leverages OER and open textbooks.
The desired outcome of the survey research is to gain more information about what happens to the relationship between the library and the college store when the library is advocating for and leading a textbook affordability initiative. To what extent do academic librarians and college store managers demonstrate concerns about their relationship, and under what circumstances do textbook affordability initiatives encounter barriers because of opposition from a college store or owing to perceived concerns about how it will impact the store?
In addition to adding more clarity to our understanding of the relationship between the college store and other campus participants in a textbook affordability project, this presentation will offer some recommendations for best practices in bringing the college store into the project to facilitate a partnership, rather than raising the potential for conflict. In its "Learning Ecosystem" analysis The National Association for College Stores recommends in "deciding what's best, administrators, campus store leaders, IT, libraries, and faculty should work together to come up with a recommendation" for a learning content delivery model. This raises the prospect that the nature of the campus store is evolving from a past focus on selling textbooks to playing a larger role in the academic success of college students so that they are retained and persist to graduation.
A wise bookstore manager said that if students fail to persist and dropout, that's one less student to buy goods at the college store. We all have a common goal in retaining our students and helping them persist to graduation.