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Can I get my textbooks at the library?

by Jill King 9/6/2011 12:33:00 PM
As you make your way back to a new quarter from Labor Day break, you may find yourself asking "Does the library carry my textbook?" The answer is "Maybe." Here's why....

While we don't typically purchase textbooks for the library collection, we may have other books being used in your courses. If it's something you need short-term, like a novel you have to read for class or material to support an essay you're writing, getting the book from the library is a good option. Bear in mind that you should purchase a particular book if you anticipate needing it for the entire quarter, because there is no guarantee that a renewal (an extension of the due date) can be granted.

Another common question is "Can I order my textbooks through I-Share?"  Our answer is "We don't recommend it." Often, our students need the latest edition, which is not always available in I-Share, the group of Illinois academic libraries with which we partner. Any book can be recalled, which shortens your loan period or prevents you from renewing. If you decide to buy later in the quarter, you might discover that the bookstore is sold out. You can end up stuck without a textbook, assignments due, and the final exam fast approaching.

Tips for saving money on textbooks:

While purchasing textbooks is an expected cost of going to college--along with paying tuition, dorm/rental expenses, buying school supplies, a parking pass and a meal plan--there are ways to ease the financial strain. If you choose not to buy or rent your textbooks from the campus bookstore, consider:
  • Comparision shopping from local booksellers, fellow students, and the many new and used online bookstores.
  • Sharing textbooks with classmates. (Be prepared to negotiate who gets to use a textbook the night before an exam!)
  • Asking your instructor if he or she might be willing to put an extra copy of a textbook "on reserve" in the library. Doing so allows equal—albeit limited—access to all students.

And this article from the New York Times offers additional cost-saving options:

Welcome back, and best of luck this quarter!

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