In an effort to reduce the cost of textbooks, Cyril Oberlander, director of the library at State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo, devised a grant program called SUNY Open Textbooks that asked SUNY professors to write their own textbooks.
Professors apply for grants to write textbooks that are peer-reviewed by other faculty members. If the work is accepted, the university publishes the title and grants students free access to it.
The project started with a $25,000 grant to publish four textbooks, but then spread to other SUNY libraries, which added another $40,000 to the coffers and increased the number of textbooks to 15. Oberlander received 38 proposals from professors and has already published four titles, with the remaining 11 expected to be released in June.
Oberlander received a further $60,000 in funding for the project and 46 manuscripts have been proposed. This second batch of proposals will undergo a new review process that provides professors with blind abstracts that are evaluated on whether the content can be used by the entire SUNY system.
Oberlander is now considering ways to integrate texts with different learning styles, such as embedding audio into electronic versions or adding analytics to allow professors to track how well students are learning.