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Faculty Choice: Compare Textbook Models: Home

Instructors have many choices when assigning textbooks and other course readings. Here are several options at UT.
This page is part of the Libraries' Open Education Portal.


Four Types of Models:


Open Textbooks

Books are free to everyone, everywhere. No login required.

Many open textbooks are grant-funded, or subsidized by institutions giving small stipends to authors. Subject coverage is wide-ranging, but options may be limited in some disciplines.


Library Subscriptions
& Course Reserves

Students have access to library collections, which faculty can place (along with personal items) on reserve.

The Libraries' collections and subscriptions include online scholarly journal articles, physical and e-books, streaming videos, and more, easily accessible via login.

Physical Textbooks

Students buy new or used copies from a variety of sources.

VolShop's interface allows students to compare costs of textbooks from various vendors and purchase the title at the lowest price.


Inclusive Access Program

Students are opted-in to purchase a short-term rental of an e-copy.

Textbook charges are added directly to a student's bursar bill, unless a student opts out. Scholarships and student loans can cover these textbook costs. Supplemental materials incur additional charges. Students lose access after the semester ends.

Which model works best for your class?

Choose one, or mix and match. 


Comparison Chart



Library Subscriptions
& Course Reserves



Available to Students

Any time As long as they are a student/staff at UT with NetID Upon purchase First day of class (unless student opts-out) through Last day of class


Free. Print copies may be purchased for a small fee.


*Student tuition and library fees contribute to the Libraries' collection budget. Students have access to subscription resources and course reserves as long as they are UT students or staff.

Varies; Students may be able to find used copies for less Significantly less than new copies (up to 65% savings); Students are automatically opted-in and billed on their bursar's bill

Student Ownership

Can download, retain, share, etc. at any time Access with NetID; Can usually download a copy for personal use Purchase; Retain or resell Rental of digital copy limited to a semester


Instructors may edit, adapt, and mix content to align with course needs. Instructors can mix-and-match resources, indicating which portions apply. Tailoring of copyrighted texts not permitted. Instructors can supplement resources. Tailoring of copyrighted texts not permitted. Instructors can supplement resources. Tailoring of copyrighted texts not permitted.


Sometimes available, depending on course. Find or build Sometimes available, depending on course. Sometimes available, depending on course.


Use this online form to tell the Libraries that you're adopting an open textbook. The Libraries will notify the VolShop, Provost's Office and SGA, and will use the reported data to estimate overall student savings. Link to articles or e-books in Canvas (don't share the full PDF) so the Libraries can gather usage statistics. Place book orders early (at least by the preferred deadlines) so the VolShop can buy back books from students. Early orders also give students more opportunities to comparison shop. Notify the VolShop you’d like to participate in the Inclusive Access program when you place your book order.

More Information

Libraries Open Textbook Guide; List of open textbooks at University of Minnesota's Open Textbook Library; List of faculty open textbook adopters at UT

Also try your professional society (such as the American Institute of Mathematics' Open Textbook Initiative) or Project Gutenberg and HathiTrust for texts in the Public Domain

OneSearch for print and e-collections; list of all E-Book subscription collections; Libraries Streaming Video Guide

Place a copy of a textbook or your own personal materials on course reserve, and UT Libraries will facilitate short-term access for your students (loan periods range from 2 hours to 3 days).


VolShop Inclusive Access

More Information

For library information in your discipline, contact your liaison librarian.

For help with open textbooks, contact Rachel Caldwell in the Scholars’ Collaborative of the Libraries, or any member of the Open Education Working Group.

For information about the VolShop's programs, contact the VolShop.