North Carolina State U. Gives Students Free Access to Physics Textbook Online

Physics students at North Carolina State University can get their introductory-level textbooks for free thanks to a new program by the college.

Each year about 1,300 students at North Carolina State take Physics 211 and Physics 212. Beginning this semester, the university’s libraries and physics department have offered the courses’ textbook online for free. Students can also print pages of the text or buy a printed copy at the university’s bookstore for about $45.

Michael A. Paesler, head of the physics department at North Carolina State, said his department wanted to find a cost-effective way for students to get course material and felt an online option might work well. The department hopes to offer more material online, including an optics text written by Mr. Paesler to be used for a course next semester.

“This is just the way students nowadays communicate and apply learning,” Mr. Paesler said. “So we thought this would not be an obstacle to their learning — indeed, it might be a better way to learn.”

North Carolina State University Libraries paid about $1,500 to purchase the site license for the textbook, published by Physics Curriculum & Instruction. Greg Raschke, who managed the physics project for the libraries, said the libraries would like to make more textbooks available online for students.

“We’ve gotten feedback from parents, from students, that textbook costs are too high,” said Mr. Raschke, the libraries’ associate director for collections and scholarly communication. “So be able to do something about that is nice.”

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