Undergraduate students of California’s public college and university system will now be able to access many of their textbooks for free, online. Governor Jerry Brown signed senate bills 1052 and 1053 into law, which will establish online libraries that contain digital textbooks for the 50 most commonly taken lower-division courses.
The online libraries will be accessible by students at California State University, University of California and state community colleges. Both measures will reduce costs to students, who often struggle with the astronomical prices associated with text books. Says bill author Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, “The current cost of traditional textbooks is so high, some college students are forced to struggle through a required class without the textbook, forced to drop classes or sometimes even drop out of college altogether. There’s absolutely no reason a basic biology, statistics or accounting textbook, for example, should cost $200.”
The bills were supported on all sides, and received bipartisan votes in the Legislature. The only big opposition that the bill initially received was from publishing companies who were less than pleased about an amendment requiring that they provide free copies of their textbooks to college libraries, and who removed their opposition when that amendment was lifted.
This initiative joins other initiatives, such as free online education course websites [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]and [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead], in making education more affordable and accessible to all. With students in California’s public college and university system having faced several steep fee increases over the last few years, there is no doubt that the passage of the bills will offer much-needed relief to financially burdened students and their families.
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