The cost of textbooks and other course materials are a barrier for students at every university. To avoid fees, some students don’t purchase textbooks, instead, they use a copy on reserve at the Libraries.
A significant portion of books on print reserve are required textbooks, which students are unable to use without coming into the library building—impossible since March. Complicating this work are textbook publishers, who do not make electronic formats readily available to libraries for purchase as they have built their business models around selling e-textbooks directly to students.
This is not a library problem. Textbook costs impact everyone in higher education: students, faculty, advocates in support and success roles, institutional research output, and grant funding.
The Libraries attempt to make copies of selected textbooks and course materials available to assist those students who are unable to purchase their own. The following publishers will not allow libraries to purchase e-textbook versions of their publications: Pearson, Cengage, Elsevier, McGraw Hill, Thieme, and most publishers of ‘common reads,’ popular fiction, and popular nonfiction.
The Libraries work with faculty and instructors to utilize textbook alternatives, such as:
Adopting Open Educational Resources—freely available
educational materials openly licensed to allow for re-use
Creating digital course materials by scanning book chapters
and excerpts subject to fair use and licensing regulations;
Linking to Libraries’ e-books, journal articles, and streaming media
Purchasing new academic e-books
Thank you to our colleagues at Grand Valley State University
Libraries and the University of Guelph Libraries. We have
adapted their statements with permission.