Professional News

Alternative Textbook Grants Impactful in Enabling Equitable Access

Student at laptop
Pete Comparoni | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 23, 2021)  Over 11,800 students have gained free online access to essential course materials and saved more than $1.48 million in textbook spending from 2017 through 2021, thanks to the University of Kentucky Libraries’ Alternative Textbook Grant Program that supports UK faculty to switch from commercial textbooks to openly licensed textbooks, library-licensed information resources and/or free course content created by grant recipients.

“It is exhilarating to hear that the Alternative Textbook Grant Program has enabled equitable access to learning materials for so many students,” said Deirdre Scaggs, UK Libraries associate dean of services. “UK Libraries is thankful to instructors who have adopted this innovative approach to teaching, and looks forward to partnering with more instructors to elevate students’ academic success.”

Launched in 2016, the annual Alternative Textbook Grant Program has awarded 59 grants to instructors from 13 colleges as of June 30, 2021. While some grantees have replaced commercial textbooks with library resources or openly licensed textbooks, other grantees have created their own course materials and commendably shared them online for other instructors to adopt. Educational resources made freely available by alternative textbook grantees include:

This year’s Alternative Textbook Grant Program concluded in May with the award of 10 grants to the following faculty:

  • Molly Blasing, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Tyrone Borders, College of Nursing
  • Andrew Byrd and Brenna Byrd, Department of Linguistics and Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lauren Cagle, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Lindsey Fay, School of Interiors, College of Design
  • Jennifer Lovely, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Sara Police, Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, College of Medicine
  • Kay Shenoy, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Stephen Voss, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jaleesa Wells, Department of Arts Administration, College of Fine Arts

The grantees teach a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Russian and arts administration to engineering and political science. With the support of the funds, some grantees aim to create multimedia content to enrich instruction and facilitate student learning.

“Through experience, I have found that an alternative textbook model is optimal for 100% online courses,” shared Sara Police, director of the online graduate certificate in applied nutrition and culinary medicine from the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences. “Curating, reviewing, editing and then organizing resources for asynchronous learning is essential for this distinct mode of course delivery and independent learning.”

UK Libraries will host two information sessions this semester to introduce faculty and graduate students to the universe of open educational resources (OER). Details about them are available online. Additionally, faculty interested in finding alternative textbooks for their courses are welcome to contact the academic liaisons for their departments or Adrian Ho, UK Libraries director of digital scholarship, for more information. An online guide is also available for consultation anytime.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.