F&M College Library

#Textbookbroke: from Student Cost Surprises to Student Success

Poster presentation at the 2024 AAC&U Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference, Philadelphia, PA

Background: College Students are #textbookbroke

  • College students everywhere are #textbookbroke

  • F&M library employees are advocates for:

    • Open Access/OA scholarly publishing

    • Student access to low/no cost Open Educational Resources/OER 

  • 2020 and 2023 Library Course Materials Affordability Survey data inspired deeper investigation overall, but in particular because of two concerning sets of numbers:

    • Increasing number of students are going without required course materials in order to save money – what could this mean for their academic success?

    • First-year students spend the most on required course materials – what could this mean for retention?

Putting Survey Data to Use

  • The College Library’s 2023 Course Materials Affordability Survey data helped inform campus consideration, and ultimate rejection, of a new plan proposed by F&M’s external bookstore partner – the plan featured:

    • Textbook costs being automatically charged to tuition bills:

      • A flat fee for ALL STUDENTS – which survey data proved was higher than what most students could expect to pay for required materials

      • Requiring students/parents/families to “opt out” – not an equitable practice!

    • Language indicating the plan as “inclusive” and “equitable


Ryan Nadeau
Research and Student Success Librarian


For a complete review of our affordability studies of both F&M students and faculty, please see:

Barnes, C.A., Vine, S., & Nadeau, R. (2024) Assessing textbook affordability before and after the COVID-19 pandemic: Results of student and faculty surveys. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 50(2).

About Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA

Franklin & Marshall College is a:

♦ Private, residential, liberal arts college     ♦ Approximately 2,000 students and 200 professors     ♦ Average class size = 18 students 
♦ Required course materials range from low/no cost Open Educational Resources/OER, to costly traditional textbooks

Poster contributors:
♦ Jenn Buch, Research Services Specialist   ♦ Diana Daigle, Resource Sharing Specialist   ♦ Lisa Stillwell, Associate Librarian for Research Services   ♦ Scott Vine, Director of The College Library