Amy Pawlowski and Gwen Evans | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Change Agents

As leaders of the 118-member academic library consortium OhioLINK, Gwen Evans and Amy Pawlowski negotiated first-of-their-kind statewide electronic textbook pricing agreements with six publishers—John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, Macmillan Learning, Cengage, and SAGE—which resulted in an estimated $39.7 million annual savings for students attending higher education institutions in Ohio. The duo moved from concept to implementation in just three and a half months.

Amy Pawlowski

AMY PAWLOWSKI

CURRENT POSITION

Deputy Director & eResource Licensing Coordinator, OhioLINK, Columbus, OH

DEGREE

MLIS, Kent State University, 2003; M.Mus., University of Hartford, 1999

Gwen Evans

GWEN EVANS

CURRENT POSITION

Executive Director, OhioLINK, Columbus, OH

DEGREE

MSLIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002; MA, University of Chicago, 1993

FOLLOW BOTH

affordablelearning.ohiolink.edu/Guide; affordablelearning.ohiolink.edu/ld.php?content_id=40725713; affordablelearning.ohiolink.edu/az.php

Photos ©2019 Matt Lawrence Photography

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Textbook Dealmakers

As leaders of the 118-member academic library consortium OhioLINK, Gwen Evans and Amy Pawlowski negotiated first-of-their-kind statewide electronic textbook pricing agreements with six publishers—John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, Macmillan Learning, Cengage, and SAGE—which resulted in an estimated $39.7 million annual savings for students attending higher education institutions in Ohio. The duo moved from concept to implementation in just three and a half months.

The discounted textbook prices came about as part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Open Educational Resources and Affordable Learning initiatives (OER). Their impact will be felt by more than 570,000 students, faculty, and researchers at the 90 institutions served by OhioLINK. While not every e-textbook is discounted, participating publishers are offering deals of up to 80 percent off. “Publishers didn’t understand the power of libraries and now they are waking up to it,” Pawlowski says.

Besides saving all students money, the pricing agreements help level the playing field for those who struggle to afford textbooks or whose financial aid is delayed, because students will be billed through their campus bursar rather than immediately paying out of pocket. “I’ve listened to students talk about the choices they’ve made between food and textbooks,” Evans says. “That’s not acceptable.”

When the state first asked OhioLINK to negotiate textbook prices, Evans was skeptical. While she and Pawlowski negotiate academic journal prices, the textbook marketplace is very different. “But at OhioLINK, we don’t like to admit defeat,” Evans says.

Evans devised the overall strategy, and the pair started with their existing relationships with publishers, both negotiating discounts. Evans reached out to major campus stakeholders and led marketing and implementation. Pawlowski ensured that all the moving parts, such as campus billing, understood their roles and anticipated roadblocks and found ways to remove them. “Looking ahead provides advantages at the negotiation table,” Pawlowski says.

Their success has attracted interest from as far away as the Netherlands. The Louisiana Library Network is using the Ohio model. And the duo continue to seek ways to provide affordable content, while balancing academic freedom—allowing educators to choose their own texts—and reducing barriers to adoption.

Evans and Pawlowski won’t talk specifics, however. “We are far too adept at negotiation to show our hand,” Evans says. “When it comes to affordable learning, we’re just getting started.” n

 

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Peggy Sullivan

It seems to me the earth just have shifted when this impressive development occurred. Right on, Ohio women! You're on a great roll! Sail on!

Posted : Mar 28, 2019 09:39


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