January 27, 2022

Penn State University Libraries: E-Books Provide Student Savings Through Partnership

From Penn State University:

2018-08-14_12-09-04A Penn State program has saved online learners an estimated $1.2 million in the cost of buying textbooks since it launched in the fall of 2017. Its success is now laying the groundwork for even greater savings for students across the University.

Penn State, through a partnership between Penn State World Campus and the University Libraries, has made available more than 330 e-books for almost 300 courses offered through World Campus starting in the 2017-2018 academic year. The e-books are available to students through Canvas, the University’s learning management system, and are also searchable online in the University Libraries’ catalog.

World Campus has committed to invest up to $50,000 annually for three years to increase the Libraries’ digital collections.

“Penn State is committed to minimizing students’ costs toward obtaining a degree by making free and affordable course content available through the University Libraries. The e-book licensing partnership between the Libraries and Penn State World Campus is one of the ways we are making that educational content accessible to all students,” Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, said. “The partnership is mutually beneficial as it helps the Libraries increase its collections strategically while also supporting Penn State’s strategic plan foundation of enabling educational access and affordability and its commitment to help students avoid costs by offering free and low-cost textbooks.”

The partnership was designed to provide e-book access to Penn State World Campus students in high-enrollment courses. World Campus students enrolled in courses in which e-books have been licensed can access the e-books via the “Library Resources” tab in the course dashboard of Canvas. The license also can provide Libraries catalog access to any Penn State student at any campus who is enrolled in a course that uses the selected e-book.


E-books have been available in about 20 percent of courses. The following shows a breakdown of the estimated savings:

  • fall 2017: $380,169
  • spring 2018: $378,900
  • summer 2018: $445,289

In feedback submitted through Canvas, students have praised the e-book program, saying:

  •  “With a family to provide for, sometimes my budget for schooling is overwhelming and saving a few hundred dollars on books every semester would be amazing.”
  • “I like that the book is linked right from Canvas under the class navigation pane.”
  • “It makes my studying experience much better because I can easily search the text and access it whenever I need to.”

Visit the University Libraries website to see the courses for which e-books are available.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.