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Chico Affordable Learning Solutions

Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$)

Chico Affordable Learning Solutions (CAL$)  provides resources to faculty regarding affordable course materials, including how to find quality zero-cost or low-cost textbooks and other materials, or design one’s own Open Educational Resources (OERs).

In 2012, our campus launched our local Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) campaign as part of the CSU's larger AL$ program that was initiated by the Chancellor's Office in 2011. At the start, the main focus of CAL$ was Chico's Textbook Alternatives Project (TAP), but has more recently expanded to include faculty learning communities under the AB 798 grant. CAL$ is a collaborative effort between faculty, the library, TLP, and the bookstore.

The California State University Chancellor’s Office also has an Affordable Learning Solutions website(opens in new window) that provides some very helpful tools to assist faculty in finding Open textbooks, course materials, and more.


  • Offer looseleaf and/or e-book versions of your current textbook. Consult with the Wildcat Store textbook team to identify the best low-cost options for your course.   
  • Use an older edition of your current textbook. When ample copies of a previous edition are available, this simple option can save students a significant amount of money. Faculty can provide supplemental updated readings as needed.
  • Select a less expensive (but still quality) textbook. For popular undergraduate courses there are many quality textbooks to choose from. Keep cost a significant factor in your decision making.  
  • Negotiate with the publisher for low-cost options or a discount. Sometimes individual faculty or departments can speak with publisher representatives to get an improved price on their textbook or have them provide a lower-cost option (e.g. a looseleaf or partial text).
  • Find an Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook. OERs are “Open Content” materials for teaching, learning, and research that are not only free but have a perpetually open license enabling them to be used and modified. Search our list of OER repositories.
  • Compile OER materials. Search OER repositories to identify readings (e.g. chapters, articles) to assign. Most CC licenses allow for modification so you can customize them to your course.
  • Author your own OER materials. Faculty often develop their own resources -  consider sharing your work as an OER. See our list of helpful resources to create your own OER, whether from scratch or adapting other OERs.
  • Select Low Cost Course Materials (LCCM). Some organizations specialize in low-cost textbooks and ancillary materials for a price significantly less than most publishers.  
  • Compile readings (including copyrighted materials) on Blackboard using Leganto. Build easy to access reading lists that maximize the use of library owned resources using the program Leganto (to which Chico State has a subscription). Please contact TLP or a Librarian for help.
  • Compile readings (including copyrighted materials) in a printed course packet. Work with the Wildcat Store textbook team or local company Chico Packet Pro to gain copyright clearance and print course packets.      
  • Put a copy of the textbook or other readings on reserve at Meriam library. This allows students to check out items from the library circulation desk for a specified period of time (2 or 24 hours).
  • Instead of a textbook, consider using other teaching materials: homework or quiz bank questions or supplemental videos (such as those from Consult with the Technology & Learning Program for information on developing and/or adding these materials to Blackboard.
  • Submit your book order to the bookstore by the April 1st and October 1st textbook deadlines. The bookstore prioritizes getting used copies of books, and on-time submissions allows the bookstore to buy back books from students at the end of the term. On-time submissions also allow the textbook team time to research the most cost-effective option(s) for your class. Textbook submissions can be made at online, by e-mailing, calling 530-898-6966, or visiting the bookstore in person.
  • Work with the Wildcat Store textbook team to identify the best option for your course. The textbook team prioritizes finding cost-effective resources for students, and can provide individualized information to faculty, including textbooks used for that course in the past (or elsewhere), sample textbook copies, student purchase patterns of past semesters, how to add books to the rental program, and more.
  • Participate in a Faculty Learning Community supported by TAP or AB798. These groups have been helping faculty lower costs in their courses since 2013.

Many people and organizations are available on campus to help connect faculty and students with available resources. If you have questions do not hesitate to consult with us.