Programming Textbooks

College Textbooks – The bane of existence for every college student. They’re big, expensive, and for a few students, hardly touched throughout the year. Depending on a student’s major, one could easily add up to an additional $1000+ a school year.

There are other things to spend money on, such as food, rent, and of course, tuition. Textbooks aren’t exactly at the top of the list when it comes to essentials, but as a student, you come to learn that a number of college courses are designed with the intent to them.

As freshmen, I unknowingly bought every textbook I needed. I hadn’t realized I was duped by the system until I started working at my University’s library. Textbook money helps pay the Professors and fund the University we love so much.

I often am surprised at how overlooked other text book resources are utilized. Many students are unaware of alternatives available to them or don’t bother to make the effort. Avoiding excessive textbook fees is a great way to save up for what you really need.

To help you save, we’ll provide you with some alternative options. This first post is part of a 5-part series of useful tips to help students save on textbooks (I promise they aren’t difficult!).

Using the Library Interlibrary Loan System

The library loan and interlibrary loan system is a valuable overlooked resource. What is it? The Interlibrary Loan System allows universities and public libraries from all over the country to lend out books to each other. Best of all, this service is free to you as a student. Students/Friends are often surprised to learn such a system exists (kind of like a secret menu). As a student, you’re bound to use the library sooner or later, so why not take full advantage of its services? You’re already paying for it with your tuition.

1. The first thing you want to do is figure out your class schedule. What books will you absolutely need and what others could you get by without? List out classes by priority, books, and price 

  • If you’re taking a popular class/section, you’ll want to put that at the very top of your list 
  • If you’re unsure about a class, still add it to your list. You can always return books that you won’t need afterwards. Preparing ahead will help you save.

2. If you have remote access to your University’s library system, log-on and check if there are copies of the book available immediately.

  • If yes, immediately head over to the library or request to put it on hold for later pick-up (if the option is available). Make sure you pick your book up as soon as possible. The library is not obligated to keep the book on hold for an extended period of time.
  • f the book is unavailable, check with the interlibrary loan system. Books that are sold by the University for certain courses are often not available, but are widely available at other colleges and public libraries. The interlibrary loan system also includes public libraries from around the country. You may also request prints/scans of specific pages. More details can be found at your college library.

additional notes:

  • Interlibrary loan delivery can take up to 1-2 weeks, depending on location and availability of the book. If you’re concerned about delivery time, you can ensure you receive your book in a timely manner by putting a request in ASAP.
  • If for some reason your book is unavailable or you’re requesting a rare item available outside of the United States, there is an international loan option. However, this option takes much more time.
  • If a book is listed at a nearby library, check and see if you are able to pick-up a loan directly
  • Most libraries allow you to request the book for 3 months or longer, unless it is requested by another patron.  

In part 2 we’ll discuss how to take advantage of the Library Book Reserve. 


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