After three years of work, the Eastern Kentucky University African and African American Studies program has unveiled its new open source textbook.
The book is being used for AFA 202, ‘The African-American Experience,’ and has already saved students over $10,000 since the book’s release in December said Josh Farrington, one of the book’s editors and chapter contributors.
Ogechi Anyanwu, director of African and African American Studies, revealed his idea to create an open source textbook in August 2016 when he met with other faculty members that would eventually help edit and contribute to the book.
“Before I brought up the idea, I would have students who didn’t have the money to buy the textbook come into my office so I would give them complimentary copies and they would leave my office I would see the joy on their face that I just saved them $100 and I said, ‘If I can put one smile on the face of a student I can put it on the face of many students,’” said
Anyanwu pitched the idea at his meeting in 2016. He then assembled a team of editors including Norman Powell, associate professor in the education and communication disorders department; Gwendolyn Graham, part time faculty on-campus, and Lisa Day, director of women and gender studies.
Like Anyanwu, Farrington had also noticed the barrier that textbook costs can pose.
“For students who have money issues, they will have the money on the first day of class and they won’t have to make the decision to buy the books for this class or another class, the student just automatically has the textbook,” said Farrington.
Anyanwu and his team began working with the library to put the book together.
“We publish all of our open-access materials on Encompass, so we saw the opportunity to publish textbooks on there as well,” said Kelly Smith, coordinator of collections services, and the head of Encompass.
Encompass is EKU’s archive for digital works at the university, including theses written by students in the honors program.
Nathan Ritchie, a 31-year-old occupational safety and health major from Lexington, is one of the students who has already benefited from having access to this textbook. At the launch party event for the book held on Feb. 20 Ritchie was called to the podium to give his perspective,
“It’s nice to have a free textbook because that’s just more money for my family, it helps with buying gas. Gas prices are expensive, and a textbook is about $80 so that’s two weeks worth of gas,” said Ritchie.
Anyanwu is already planning the African and African American Studies department’s next book, perhaps for the ‘African Experience’ class.