Trustees create task force to evaluate textbook costs

By Vanessa Blore

The City College board of trustees passed a resolution March 26, establishing a College Textbook Affordability Task Force to help students deal with the rising cost of text books.

The purpose of this task force is to “develop textbook adoption guidelines and to evaluate and implement other strategies to improve textbook affordability,” Chancellor Dr. Don Q. Griffin said.

“[The task force] should include representatives of the local academic senate, student government, librarians, disabled student services, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services as well as the bookstore manager, chief instructional officer, chief student services officer and other important stakeholders,” Chancellor Griffin said.

This task force is the first step in a local solution to a statewide problem. The California State Auditors May 2008 report stated publishers employ various tactics to affect the costs of textbooks.The report also states several companies in the textbook industry believe the market for used textbooks drives up the cost of new textbooks and may play a role in how frequently publishers issue new editions.

“This resolution is good to bring some awareness to the subject. But the cost of books is far beyond City College. I really hope, that out of the resolution, a lobbying group gets created. Moreover, I really wish for this group to lobby in Sacramento in favor of policies and laws that prevent publishers from burdening students with the cost of books,” Student trustee Diana Muñoz -Villanueva said.

The 2008 California Auditors Report states textbook costs represent nearly 60 percent of the total cost of a students education in academic year 2007-2008. An average full-time City College student can expect to pay $692 on textbooks annually. The annual cost of fees for a full time student to enroll at City College costs around $480.

Community Colleges may attract low-income students because they are more affordable than UC or CSU campuses. Therefore, textbook costs represent a higher portion of the total cost of an education for a student enrolled at a community college than for a student at a UC or CSU campus.

There are a few alternatives to purchasing new or used text books. City College’s library has textbooks on reserve and although the number of reserved books is small, it is growing. Google has also began to take “orphan” books – out-of-print works which no author or publication has an active copyright to. Scanning these onto a database will make these books available free of charge to students.

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