U.P.E.I.'s student union president wants universities to offer textbooks for free.

The head of the student union at UPEI was on Parliament Hill Tuesday, urging the spread of free textbook options like those offered by the Island university.

Six University of Prince Edward Island courses are allowing students to access textbooks online, something student union president Anastasia Smallwood says has saved local students $30,000 a year.

"Removing the publisher from the concept and working with an online system to have all the information in one place online," she said.

"So then from there if the students choose to print the entire document they can do so. If not they can print chapters, whatever they choose to do."

The university’s chief librarian says for years, publishers have been asked to come up with ways to lower the cost of textbooks. But for the most part, Mark Leggott said, they haven’t done much.

The university’s library book printer can run off an 800 page textbook for just $35. Leggott said this is not piracy, and no copyright or intellectual property laws are being violated.

"The faculty and experts who contribute to the production of this textbook are making their writing and their resources available under a licence that either gives away their copyright or makes their material available for the purposes of this textbook," he said.