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Office of the Provost

Open Textbook Initiative


Philosophy and Guidelines

DEADLINE: November 26, 2019, 11:59 p.m.

Click here to apply.



To support faculty in their efforts to replace traditional commercial textbooks with academically equivalent alternatives that are available at no cost to students. 

 Project Overview

The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries, with considerable financial support and direction from the Office of the Provost, will organize and administer awards ranging from $400.00 to $1600.00 each to faculty members who successfully submit winning proposals that are considered likely to achieve the outcomes described below. 


  • Save students money by eliminating expensive, commercial textbooks
  • Improve student learning with tailored curricular resources
  • Support faculty experimentation with open educational resources
  • Encourage an institutional culture that supports open sharing of scholarship


Scholarly publishing is arguably in a state of transition as new technology is providing innovative ways to share and disseminate new ideas, such as through the open access movement.  Similarly, alternatives to the use of traditional commercial textbooks are emerging that offer the potential to reduce the cost of information access for students and provide an opportunity to enhance the teaching and learning experience for faculty and students with resources that are more customized and relevant.   This project aims to follow the lead of Temple University[1] and the University of Massachusetts—Amherst by creating an alternate textbook project for Southern Miss faculty that will benefit students though the promotion of the objectives defined above.[2]


  1. Proposals must plan to replace at least one required textbook for at least one class; eliminating required textbooks for more than one class will strengthen the application.
  2. Proposals that leverage existing licensed content, such as articles in library subscription databases, are especially desirable.
  3. Recipients must participate in corresponding training opportunities on the basics of open textbooks, copyright law, and library resources and must consult with their subject librarian to discuss the project at least once.
  4. Proposals will include assessment of student learning and description of the impact of the financial savings on students. 

 Projects Not Eligible

  1. Courses taught by part-time faculty
  2. Proposals to use commercial e-text versions of existing print textbooks
  3. Courses already using open access material

 Selection Criteria

  1. How well the proposed project meets the outcomes articulated above
  2. The estimated savings to USM students
  3. Transferability of the project to other courses
  4. The potential for the project to be implemented in the 2019-20 academic year.
  5. The inclusion of a clear plan to assess student learning in the course
  6. Additional consideration will be given to proposals that involve either a high enrollment course or a general education course.
  7. Proposals will be submitted in one of three tiers:
  • Tier 1 (Adopt) – faculty members will incorporate an existing open textbook into their course ($400.00 award)
  • Tier 2 (Modify) – faculty members will incorporate portions of multiple existing open textbooks along with other freely available educational resources or with materials available through the library’s collections ($800.00 award)
  • Tier 3 (Create) – faculty members will write their own open textbook, which will be housed in Aquila and available for other educators to use free of charge ($1,600.00 award) 


Those selected for this grant award will:

  1. View three workshops (one hour each) by the end of the Spring 2020 semester
  • Copyright Law
  • Overview of Open Textbooks
  • Open Access and Library Resources available
  • Schedule a planning consultation with their subject librarian at the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester
  • Provide feedback about the program
  • Commit to keeping materials updated

 Distribution of Faculty Stipends

Funds will be distributed in two payments, 25% of the stipend’s value upon initial selection to the project and 75% upon completion of program requirements.


Proposals should be submitted online and must include the following:

  1. Full name, title, school, and email of applicant
  2. Course information (including number, title, size of enrollment, frequency of offering, current textbook and its cost)
  3. A narrative (500 words) addressing interest in doing this project, background (if any) in working with open access materials, the nature of the course modifications proposed, and any challenges or barriers anticipated in carrying out plans. We are interested in learning about what applicants would like to do, and what the impact of the efforts on this course and/or other courses at the University will be.
  4. A letter of support from the chair/director of the faculty member’s unit. An additional letter of support may be included if desired.

Submit Proposal 



[2] Bell, SJ. (2012). Coming in the Back Door: Leveraging Open Textbooks To Promote Scholarly Communications on Campus. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(1):eP1040.



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