UM System looks to reduce student book costs with expanded digital library

In an effort that University of Missouri System officials say will save students millions, the state’s university system has launched an expansion of its online library, AutoAccess, and will offer free online learning materials for some classes.

AutoAccess has already saved students more than $7 million during the three years it has been operational, UM System President Mun Choi said in a June announcement of the expansion.

“This program is expanding options for students,” UM System spokesman Christian Basi said. “It allows faculty to fully vet these materials.”

Basi said AutoAccess materials are less expensive than traditional textbooks because the university pays publishers directly for the rights to the books, eliminating costs like printing, shipping and advertising.

“We’re working with the publishers to get an electronic version of the book, which takes a lot of that cost out,” Basi said. “We’re then able to offer it at an extremely competitive price.”

A group of librarians, faculty and students was announced in June to raise interest in the program and gather input from all four of the system’s campuses.

During the June announcement, Choi said students would enjoy huge savings because they “don’t have to pay the publishers.” He added that professors in the UM System who create their own open-source textbooks could receive up to $10,000 in incentives.

When asked about future goals for the new program, Choi said: “why not have all of our freshman courses available through open source?” He also said he hopes high school students looking to earn dual enrollment credits through the UM System would eventually be able to access open-source materials.

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