SUNY Faculty and Libraries Publishing Open Textbooks

SUNY Open TextbooksNew GlowSMState University of New York libraries are collaborating with faculty to develop free online textbooks, and in doing so, are simultaneously developing a new academic-friendly publishing model.

“Open e-content for courses can help to lower textbook costs for students, provide a showcase for SUNY faculty authors and enrich partnerships with academic libraries.  This is a win for everyone,” said Mary Jo Orzech, Director of Drake Memorial Library at the College at Brockport.

“The State University of New York has over 450,000 student enrollments.  If we can create Open Textbooks that save one out of ten students $30, the total savings will be over 1.3 million dollars.” said Carey Hatch, Associate Provost for Academic Technologies and Information Service at SUNY System Administration.  “Librarians have been at the forefront of the digital revolution in higher education, and it is good to see them assuming a leadership position in this new form of content creation and distribution.”
The Open SUNY Textbook Program will produce fifteen free online textbooks this year, thanks to the support from a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) and library funding, as well as the time, skills, and talents of librarians with consultation by SUNY Press.

This innovative publishing program includes:

  • incentives to SUNY faculty authors and peer reviewers to produce open textbooks,
  • editing and instructional design support services using a cooperative library service framework,
  • and a publishing platform using Open Monograph Press – an open source software recently released by the Public Knowledge Project.

With a mere two-week call for proposals to SUNY faculty, the program received 38 proposals for open textbooks.  The original grant funding limited the number of titles to publish to 4 textbooks, but upon realizing how many outstanding proposals they had received, the participating libraries stepped up to the plate to contribute additional funding to produce more textbooks than originally planned. The new goal is to publish fifteen excellent textbooks in disciplines across the curriculum, including:

Textbook Subject






Computer Sciences














Participating and supporting libraries include: The College at Brockport; SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry; SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Geneseo; University at Buffalo; and SUNY Upstate Medical University, and SUNY Morrisville has even offered to assist with copy editing some of the textbooks.  Libraries demonstrate they are willing to contribute time, talent, and funds to support this innovative publishing program. Publishing tasks and roles are expected to be sourced, much like at University Presses, however, librarians will be key to offering these authors a range of invaluable services such as copy editing, loading and proofing files, applying metadata, indexing, or offering support with resources and interactive content strategies.

“I am very impressed with the mutual interest and responsiveness of SUNY faculty authors and reviewers, and librarians to produce high quality open textbooks.,” said Cyril Oberlander, Milne Library’s Director at SUNY Geneeo. “The librarians are developing new editorial workflows and services, incorporating instructional designers, and significantly contributing to open education.  Producing innovative open textbooks can help reduce the cost of higher education to students, and it can also reduce the cost to libraries and institutions.”

The Open SUNY Textbook Program hopes to further expand both the number of textbooks produced and number of participating libraries next year. It will also focus on the developing of interactive books that provide learning assessments.

For inquiries about this exciting new program, please contact:

Cyril Oberlander
Milne Library Director
(585) 245-5528