Ellender Memorial Library purchases textbooks with LOUIS funding


Graphic by Jessica Mouton

Nicholls State University’s Ellender Memorial Library provides many textbooks for students to use. The library is able to purchase these textbooks with funding from a program titled LOUIS.

Many university libraries belong to the LOUIS consortium. LOUIS is able to help universities afford expensive resources. This is possible because a large number of universities are investing in LOUIS, allowing LOUIS to purchase resources at a discounted price.

LOUIS is part of the Louisiana Board of Regents. It has assisted Nicholls in purchasing electronic textbooks. When Nicholls buys electronic textbooks, it buys those with unlimited usage.

Elizabeth Batte, electronic resources librarian and open-educational resources (OER) coordinator, said that she will email professors to let them know that the library has purchased the textbook for their class. This allows every person in that class to access the textbook online for free.

“We own these titles permanently; we’re not renting them. So, if this teacher uses this textbook for the next five years, then five years’ worth of students get to save with this textbook,” Batte said. 

This past spring, LOUIS spent a little over $3,500 on twenty-three textbooks, which saved approximately 400 students almost $21,000. 

LOUIS spent about $5,000 on thirty textbooks for the summer and fall semesters, which saved 660 students almost $48,000. 

Most of these textbooks are for courses that are being repeated, so the amount of money saved and the number of students affected continues to grow.

LOUIS also awards grants for departments to look at their current courses and rewrite a textbook for them. These textbooks are called OERs, open-educational resources. An OER is an openly licensed textbook that professors can use for free. 

The culinary program has received this grant twice. The first time the program received this grant, six faculty members created six OERs, which will save over 350 culinary students over $50,000 a year. 

The six culinary faculty members spent the past spring and summer semesters creating the six OERs. Batte worked with Chef Bill Thibodeaux on this project.

Batte also worked with Student Government Association (SGA) Senator Symphony Brown, who is on the finance committee. This past March, Batte and Brown proposed a bill for about $5,000 to buy new textbooks for students. 

Since the semester had already started and most students had already purchased their textbooks, they did not buy unlimited usage e-textbooks for that semester. Instead, they bought e-textbooks that could only be used by one student at a time. This project affected approximately 1,500 students.

So far this semester, the use of OERs at Nicholls has saved students an estimated $200,000. The purchasing of textbooks with the help of LOUIS funding is an ongoing project that Batte hopes will continue to grow.

“Providing students with free textbooks is something that Dr. Clune, Dr. Westbrook, all the department heads…everyone is very on-board with because we understand the burden of textbooks, and we’re trying to alleviate that cost…If we can eliminate textbook costs, then we are working toward eliminating boundaries to students,” Batte said.