Countless students at California State University, Dominguez Hills have saved untold dollars on textbooks and other alternative learning materials they may have otherwise been unable to access thanks to Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$), a systemwide CSU initiative to provide low- and no-cost online educational resources. For her extensive work developing the cutting-edge service on this campus, and upon the recommendation of the Faculty Leaves and Honors Committee, former director of reference services Naomi Moy has been recognized with the university’s 2013 Excellence in Service Award.
“It has been an honor to receive the award,” Moy said. “Through this [recognition], maybe more faculty will see this as something they might be participating in. The Affordable Learning Solutions initiative is important.”
The program was introduced at CSU Dominguez Hills in fall 2009 after Dean of the Library Sandra Parham responded to a query from Gerard Hanley, senior director of CSU Academic Technology Services and executive director of Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, about the university serving as a beta campus.
“When I saw this program I knew I wanted to bring it [to CSU Dominguez Hills],” Moy recalled. “In 2006, I started a subscription to an ebrary collection of e-books because this was the only way that we get books fast enough and new enough into the library when we didn’t have the staff or the funds … to provide well enough for our students. These books provided the initial collection I worked with to provide low-cost, no-cost resources to the students so that they could afford that part of their education.”
Since being appointed to coordinate the project shortly after it was proposed, Moy has been scouring hundreds of courses listed in the schedule of classes each semester, searching for titles she can provide to students at greatly reduced rates, if not for free.
Under Moy’s direction, and with $58,000 in funding from the CSU, and two lottery funds allocated on behalf of the university totaling $50,000, CSU Dominguez Hills offers well over 200 e-books that are textbooks from the more than 200,000 titles available through subscriptions with ebrary and EBSCOhost, as well as single titles accessed by other means. Today, the university has become a model for the program at other colleges and universities.
The potential and proven savings for students is enormous. For example, Moy explained that a particular textbook for a nursing course was purchased through one of her subscription services for $135 with permanent perpetual unlimited simultaneous access. The e-book was accessed 957 times. The cost for the same title as a physical single book was $38.50. While not each access may be by a unique user, she said the savings is tremendous, amounting to over $10,000.
“You can see the economics of it,” Moy said, adding that there is still a market for physical books, especially as rentals, which is a popular program through the University Bookstore.
Increasing the value of the program and convenience for students, most books can be downloaded to a student’s own electronic bookshelf indefinitely, whether on their desktop computer, laptop, iPad, reader, or smartphone.
Through faculty workshops, emails to faculty, as well as visits to Academic Senate, dean and departmental meetings, Moy has recruited more than 200 CSU Dominguez Hills faculty who now offer textbooks they use in their courses. Some titles are customizable for instructors who would like to pick and choose certain chapters or sections of a book.
“Affordable Learning Solutions is not just about a one to one match on print textbooks. It goes way beyond. It’s also about innovation in both teaching and learning resources, about using technology and online educational resources (OER) to enhance our students’ educational experience,” Moy said, adding that some of the AL$ faculty make heavy use of OERs.
She went on to say that recognizing faculty who utilize the service during a special Faculty Showcase reception held in 2011 and 2012, which stemmed from her creation of the web-based CSUDH Campus-wide Directory of Awards, Scholarly Work, Creative Activities and Civic Engagement database that she now co-coordinates with archivist of Special Collections Thomas Philo, has been an important element for promoting participation among faculty.
Moy encourages faculty to, in turn, promote the service to their students. They can include a URL link to any textbooks they are using that are available through AL$, through Blackboard, or on their class syllabus.
While some of the books that faculty request are already in the collection, she tracks down as many others that she can.
“If I find a book, I could be happy for hours. For me, it’s like finding this treasure that we can now give to our students and help them if they choose an e-book,” she said. “I’ve been surprised what I can find lately.”
Moy’s accomplishments and expertise had led her to speak on several occasions, training faculty, and sharing with administrators on campus as well as at other institutions, on the value of the program. She and representatives from Cal Poly Pomona and CSU San Jose will be presenting their latest findings and best practices in March at the AL$ workshop at the CSU Office of the Chancellor.
The program at CSU Dominguez Hills has been featured twice at Board of Trustees meetings and in the 2012 CSU report to the California Legislature Joint Legislative Audit Committee on Affordability of College Textbooks.
Moy, who began working as an administrative services (reference) librarian at the newly opened Leo F. Cain Library in April 1972 shortly after earning her Master of Science in Library Science from University of Southern California, has served as the director of reference services until she retired in August, and is now dedicating much of her time to AL$ program, while serving a 12-month, half-time appointment through the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP). She also still oversees the libraries electronic resources and provides lectures for various departments on campus.
“This project has brought me a lot of happiness, a lot of joy,” Moy said of the Affordable Learning Solutions Initiative.