Open Educational Resources and Student Success

Studies have shown that students will forgo buying a textbook due to its price even while acknowledging that they will do worse in the class without their own copy. With hardcopy textbooks costing as much as $400 with averages running between $80 and $150, many students feel financially pressured to not purchase the text.

Open Educational Resources (OER) can help students succeed by reducing their costs and improving their access to course materials. OER are freely available material and the availability of them is growing as faculty recognize the advantages to students and their financial considerations in whether to buy textbooks, or indeed, to complete their degrees.

In order help faculty learn about OER, the University Libraries have created a new website,, that provides information on what OER are, how to find them, and how to implement them.

Open Educational Resources site home page
Open Educational Resources site

The Defining OER section introduces what OER are and how they benefit student learning.

The Finding OER section includes search options for OER metafinders and library e-books (which are available at no additional cost to UofL students, staff, and faculty). On the OER by Subject tab, faculty can link to individual guides for specific subjects which provide highlight available materials. The Evaluating OER tab provides a suggested list of questions faculty should ask when determining whether a particular OER will work for their class.

The Implementing OER section provides information on creating and adapting OER, creative commons licensing, and contact information for consultation services with our OER Librarian.

We invite you to explore the site and start thinking about how you could use OER to improve student success.


Richard, Brendan, Dean Cleavenger, and Valerie A. Storey. “The Buy-In: A Qualitative Investigation of the Textbook Purchase Decision.” Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice 14, no. 3 (2014): 20-31.

“Average Cost of College Textbooks.” Updated August 12, 2021, accessed May 13, 2022,

Libraries Embraces TRIO Program via Personalized Library Services

By now, most students on UofL’s main campus know Ekstrom has been renovated into a more modern, tech-friendly library, with a new services hub in the Learning Commons. However, Ekstrom is not just a pretty space.

The Belknap campus’ main library offers a wide range of services for students and faculty. Tailored, curated guides to research, research appointments offering one-on-one help, and instruction within individual classes are among the services provided by Research Assistance and Instruction (RAI) department ( Often, students overwhelmed with the demands of their coursework are greatly helped by these services.


Recently, RAI department began offering personalized library services to students who are part of the University’s TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program. This pilot initiative, begun by RAI last semester, provides individualized outreach and assistance to any TRIO student. Currently some 141 students are enrolled.

The federally funded TRIO SSS helps students whose backgrounds may pose challenges to completing college. The program offers financial, academic and personal assistance to students who are disabled, from low-income backgrounds, or first in their family to attend college, and is completely free of charge. The goal is to increase retention and graduation. For more information, please

“We thought this was a really great idea, to focus on the TRIO students,” said Anna Marie Johnson, Professor and Head of RAI. “We wanted to help students who may not have been introduced to library services before, and to help them with their research projects.”

“Particularly students from low-income neighborhoods may not have been enrolled in schools with libraries, or research resources,” she continued. “The more we can help serve this population, the more successful they will be, and the more the University will be successful.”

RAI has reached out to all 141 students with personalized emails offering advice and information, like available printing services, or study spaces offering technology inputs, and how to reach any of the RAI staff or services. So far a number of students have responded with questions about the library.

Future plans include an online module that will allow students to access videos that guide them in their research. Such modules will also be used for General Education classes introducing the University to freshmen. Johnson hopes for more one-on-one visits with TRIO students as well.

“We will be continuing this program in subsequent semesters and we hope to get a groundswell of interest,” Johnson said. “I’m always so happy when someone new comes in and finds out what help they can get; we’ve had some very happy students as a result.”