The WVU Student Government Association worked with state legislators to introduce a bill into the House of Delegates creating a temporary Virtual Library Study Commission.

“I would consider them partners in this,” said Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, R-Putnam, the lead sponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 41.

Higginbotham said right after he was elected in 2016, WVU SGA President Blake Humphrey contacted him about textbook affordability.

“A number of other student government members from throughout the state have also contacted me about issues similar to this one, but I think we had the best working relationship with the WVU student government,” Higginbotham said.

The commission, which would expire on June 30, 2019, would explore the possibilities of a virtual library in West Virginia, which is “an online repository of textbooks, open-source textbooks, that would allow for college student in our state to save hundreds of dollars every semester on textbook costs,” Higginbotham said.

This library would contain open education resources, or OER, which are educational materials that are free for students in college and in K-12.

 Humphrey said this virtual library would not only save school districts and college students money, but “[it] would also do tremendous things in improving the quality of education for West Virginians by making educational material more accessible, more affordable, more dynamic and more diverse." 

According to the bill, the commission would be made up of the following people:

  • The chair of the House Education Committee, or designee
  • The chair of the Senate Education Committee, or designee
  • The State Superintendent of Schools, or a designee
  • The Chancellor for Higher Education, or a designee
  • The Governor, or a designee
  • One member of the West Virginia Library Association selected by the president of the association
  • The chair of the West Virginia Library Commission, or a designee

“We will have a great group of minds that can come together, as designated in the bill, to really see the feasibility and the value of [virtual libraries],” Humphrey said.

A report of findings and recommendations about virtual libraries must be given to the House Education Committee and Senate Education Committee by March 1, 2019, according to the bill.

“We have a good shot at passing the concurrent resolution, but we’re still going to continue to pursue it even if it doesn’t pass” this legislative session, Higginbotham said.

Higginbotham said virtual libraries and OER will also be discussed at a Joint Standing Committee on Education meeting, which is a meeting between the House Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee.

“We have gotten confirmation that this will be one of the issues that we will be researching throughout the next few months before the next legislative session,” Higginbotham said.