The university library is a central hub connecting nearly every facet of a campus, and it is supported by students’ tuition. In the library, we asked ourselves what we could do to defray costs for students while also removing financial barriers to reading and learning.

The answer lay right at our fingertips, with the millions of pieces of content we buy or license for our library every year. We decided to partner across the university to help faculty assign students course materials from the library’s collections, and deliver them directly in their courses.

Related: What role will university libraries play in the future?

Today, the average tuition of a four-year college is $34,740 a year–a 168 percent jump in the last 20 years. There is now $1.5 trillion in collective outstanding student debt, eclipsing the amount Americans owe on their credit cards. The already-high price tag for college doesn’t take into account ancillary expenses like textbooks and course materials, which many students skip buying because they can’t afford them, even though they are concerned it will negatively impact their learning.

About the Author:

Greg Argo is the associate director for Access & Digital Services at the University of St. Thomas Libraries.