OpenStax Will Increase Its Library to 90 Free Textbooks After Receiving New Grants

IBL News | New York

OpenStax–Rice University’s OER publishing initiative–plans to vastly expand its library of free, public use textbooks after it received $12.5 million in new grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Stand Together community. Support also comes from the Charles Koch Foundation and its parent nonprofit organization, Stand Together, formerly known as the Seminar Network.

With 42 books now in its library, OpenStax announced last week that those grants will allow doubling the number of titles in the catalog.

OpenStax–whose mission is to ensure that students do not stress over the costs of textbooks–aims to raise an additional $17.5 million to increase its catalog to nearly 90 textbooks, reaching 10 million student-seats over the next five years.

The organization claims that it has saved 14 million students around the world more than $1 billion since it published its first book in 2012.

“Nine years ago, we dreamed about solving the textbook affordability and access crisis for students,” said Richard Baraniuk, the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice and founder and director of OpenStax. “Now, with this tremendous investment in open education, we will be able to not only accelerate educational access for tens of millions of students but also drive innovation in high-quality digital learning, which has become commonplace due to COVID-19.”

Demand for OpenStax and other open educational resources has increased dramatically over the past decade and it has soared since the COVID-19 pandemic broke. Since schools switched to remote instruction in March, OpenStax has seen a 217% increase in the use of its materials over the same period last year.

Open educational resources (OER), including OpenStax textbooks, are educational materials available for free, public use, and licensed to allow modification and redistribution by anyone.