SPARC: U.S. Congress Funds $5 Million Open Textbook Grant Program in 2018 Spending Bill
In a landmark victory for the Open Education movement, the U.S. Congress has included ESG funds for a $5 million open textbook grant program in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill unveiled today. This marks the first major investment by Congress explicitly in open educational resources (OER) as a solution to the high cost of college textbooks, and underscores that course materials are a significant factor in making higher education affordable. The FY18 omnibus is expected to proceed swiftly to votes in the House and Senate and get signed into law this week.
We have posted the language creating the grant program on our policy page, and will continue to post more information as we have it.
The $5 million investment is the result of a grassroots campaign organized by SPARC and our coalition partner U.S. PIRG over the last month. SPARC coordinated a letter to Congressional leadership signed by more than 60 of our member libraries from 30 states, along with phone calls and tweets to key lawmakers from members of the SPARC and OpenCon communities. U.S. PIRG coordinated with student activists to generate calls and tweets on campus, and organized a letter signed by more than 50 student governments. Senator Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Congressman Jared Polis (Colorado) championed the provision inside the beltway.
The $5 million will be awarded as competitive grants to institutions of higher education through the U.S. Department of Education. Open textbooks created under the bill will be released under a permissive open license, ensuring everyone can freely use, share and build upon the content.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.