Eastern Michigan University expands initiative to aid in students' textbook costs

Overhead view of a young person's hands on a laptop keyboard with books, notebook, smart phone and coffee beside them.

YPSILANTI – According to a recent study conducted by Eastern Michigan University library faculty, most students worry about affording required readings for their courses during the semester, while only 10.6% of students were not at all worried. Thanks to the expansion of the Textbook Affordability Initiative, students can sometimes obtain free ebooks or other less expensive text options.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that prices for college textbooks increased by 7% between 2020 and 2023. Data suggests that some EMU students often avoid courses with high textbook costs, and some have even changed majors due to costs. Faculty at EMU’s Halle Library realized the financial strain placed on students and launched this effort to find affordable or free textbooks needed for their courses. 

“Textbook prices have been rising faster than tuition and even medical care,” said Katherine Pittsley-Sousa, EMU librarian and leader of the textbook affordability initiative project. 

Instructors can sometimes choose readings that the Initiative can provide students for free. These include open educational resources, such as open textbooks, which are created to be made freely available to students—usually on the web, but sometimes also with inexpensive print versions. 

The library received significant financial support for this project from the EMU Student Government and the GameAbove alumni group. This support allowed for a substantial expansion of the library course ebook collection, which contains electronic books that students can access for free with their student ID.  Now, the library provides more than 2,300 ebook titles for students to access for their courses through the project.

The EMU Library was a leader in the state of Michigan when it launched the Textbook Affordability Initiative in 2014. Many Michigan college libraries use the model to demonstrate how to use library electronic books to help students with text expenses.

Many students have commented that the Initiative has impacted their academic careers. Students have shared that library ebooks are easy to use and help them come to class prepared for discussions. They also find that this initiative is a major cost-saving for them.

For anyone interested in donating to the Initiative visit the EMU Foundation. To find out more information about the Textbook Affordability Initiative, contact Katherine Pittsley-Sousa at kpittsle@emich.edu. To access books available through the textbook affordability initiative project, visit the webpage

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of prid

October 04, 2023

Written by:
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher