Skip to main content

Open Education Resources & Zero Cost Textbooks: Textbook Affordability Task Force

Where to find open, free & affordable textbooks

Textbook Affordability Task Force mission and members

​The OER Task Force formed to provide textbooks for students as inexpensively as possible, and no more than $50 a book. The task force meets the second Friday of the month from 1 to 2 p.m. in Building 3, Room 254. Contact us for help finding resources for your courses here:

  • Ron Andrade, Interim Dean of Academic Services and Learning Technologies. Email: Phone: 650-306-3470 Office: 9-345
  • Sarah Harmon, Academic Senate OER Liaison. email: Office: 3-216
  • Nick DeMello, Distance Education Coordinator & chemistry Instructor. Email: Phone: 650-306-3291 Office: 18-109
  • Allison Hughes, Instructional Technologist. Email: Phone:650-306-3213 Office: 13-203 
  • Jai Kumar, Bookstore Manager. Email: Phone: 650-306-3199 Office: Bookstore
  • Diana Tedone. Librarian and Academic Senate President. Email: Phone: 650-306-3476 Office: 9-310
  • Cynthia McCarthy, adjunct faculty librarian. Email:

Students' attitudes towards textbooks survey results

In January and February 2019 a survey on students' attitudes towards textbook costs was sent out via email. Read the results from 261 respondents by downloading the file below.

Presentations on OER and ZTC


Faculty colleagues in the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California reviewed over one hundred free and open electronic textbooks in art, business, education, humanities, math and statistics, science and technology, and social science. The California OER Council developed the evaluation rubric faculty reviewers used. Each textbook was reviewed by a member of community college faculty as well as CSU and UC faculty.

Read the reviews on the Cool4Ed website. 

Faculty Book Order Process

Acronyms and definitions of types of textbooks

  • OER: Open Education Resource
    • This is a type of textbook or other course material that is open source and meant to educational purposes. Frequently they are copyrighted via Creative Commons.
  • ZTC: Zero Textbook Cost
    • This is a label used for course that have a textbook or course material that is free to use.
  • IA: Inclusive Access
    • This is a program that usually bundles publisher services - including textbook and publisher site access - at a lower cost.
  • Low-cost
    • This is a label that describes course materials that are cheaper than traditional publisher alternatives. In California, the definition varies although it currently seems to mean anything that costs $50 or less.

Community College Consortium on OER

The Community College Consortium on Open Education Resources (CCCOER), established in 2007 in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, is "a joint effort by individual community colleges, regional and statewide consortia, the Open Courseware Consortium,  the American Association for Community Colleges, the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, and many other educational partners to develop and use open educational resources, open textbooks, and open courseware to expand access to higher education and improve teaching and learning."

Laws governing textbooks costs passed

Several recent laws have fueled the effort  to make textbooks more affordable.

California's three higher educational systems, the University of California, the California State University and California Community Colleges established the California Open Education Resource Council last year, as well as the California Digital Open Source Library. Two legislative bills established the goal of making higher education in California more affordable by providing faculty and students access to free and lower-cost instructional materials.

SB 1359 is a senate bill that requires colleges to mark those courses with materials that are low cost - below $50 a book - or zero cost. The bill also asks colleges to keep track of these designations and the courses they are tied to so that we can track how much students are spending on their course materials.

Textbook Affordability Taskforce monthly newsletters

Textbook Affordability Taskforce meeting agendas

The taskforce meets from 1 to 2 p.m. in 3-254 on the second Friday of the month. All are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate.

Contact us for help finding resources for your courses here:

Textbook Affordability Taskforce meeting minutes

Minutes from November 8, 2019 meeting
  1. LibGuide Updates:
    1. Everything looks good. The only thing to do is to ask Michael Ryan to put us in the index of websites, as it were—an entry for OER/Textbook Affordability Taskforce in the index that links directly to the LibGuide. That way, people can find us quickly using the traditional means.
  2. November Newsletter:
    1. I have the draft going, and I would like to finish it by next Friday, 15 November. I had to report our data to ASCCC on SB 1359, and the information for Fall 2019 is really cool. We are looking for an Idea of the Month for the newsletter—so please give me your ideas! I’ll send the final version on the following Monday.
  3. January Flex Day:
    1. We’re going to submit the proposal that we had been hashing out over email: a Copyright Workshop that runs 75 minutes. It’ll be broken up into 40ish minutes of talking about copyright, Creative Commons, and what instructors need to know, and then 30ish minutes to do the BYU online certification workshop.
    2. Any other ideas? Who wants to talk during this time? (I think we have Cynthia being part of this…and giving both Diana and Allison a break, since they have a lot to do that day.)
  4. Reassigned Time for OER Coordinator
    1. I’m putting the updated copy here—it’s essentially the same one we put in last year, but hopefully we’ll get it.
    2. Diana and I will submit it next week…so if you see anything that needs to be changed, please holler soon!
  5. Meeting Schedule
    1. December: no meeting, but we’ll work remotely on the copyright workshop for Flex Day.
    2. I’m going to look at the Schedule of Meetings for Spring 2020 to see how things are lining up, and come up with some options for us. I don’t like having this meeting run at the same time as something important (like ACES). I’ll get on that next week—since I want to have the next meeting lined up for the next round of division/Academic Senate meetings.