Over $1,400 a year just for books and supplies - that's an average cost that Montana State University estimates campus students spend as they go through their years at MSU  Bozeman. And those costs seem to be going up.

The MSU Library and the MSU Bookstore have been encouraging faculty to use what are called "open educational resources" (OER) to cut the expense. So far, 33 faculty members have joined the move to using materials that are in the public domain or are under an intellectual property license that permits free use by students, according to Christina Trunnell of the MSU Library. And the material is often available online.

In the news release, Trunnell said, "Because they are not physical texts, a common perception is that they are of lower quality, but open educational resources go through the same peer-review and vetting processes that traditional textbooks do. These publications are being shared in international repositories so that their work can be used and shared in classrooms worldwide."

They started the program two years ago and Trunnell estimates savings of over a million dollars for over 9,000 students so far. Students also can use materials from the MSU Library's collection.

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The library would like to expand their cost-cutting program and are hoping that they can obtain grants to help faculty adapt their courses to use OER materials.

The MSU Bookstore, which is a nonprofit campus business, also is working to keep textbook prices as low as possible. The bookstore has continued its nonprofit status since its creation in the 1930s. Bookstore CEO Chad Schreier said, "It's great to have a partner like the MSU Library that complements the MSU Bookstore's ongoing efforts of discounting prices, selling branded merchandise, conducting book buybacks for used book options, textbook rentals and e-book options." MSU News Service has more information at their website.

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