Textbook Purchases Statement

July 15, 2020

The high cost of textbooks has been an ongoing concern for students and faculty throughout the country. Other universities and libraries face the same challenges and they are struggling with ways to support student learning without compromising library budgets.

The CSU Libraries generally do not purchase for our collections: textbooks, solutions manuals, or monographs specifically intended for work in a classroom environment. 

Books that are used primarily as a textbook are often:

Structured with homework questions at the end of each chapter
Include titles such as Principles of [subject], Essential of [subject], or Textbook of [subject]
Include wording with 3rd edition, 4th edition, etc. as part of the title or sub-title
Are frequently updated, usually every year or two
Linked with online/e-book supplementary material that only one person is allowed to access     

However, not all texts used for instructional purposes are textbooks. For example, many titles published by university presses lend themselves to adoption in classroom instruction, but such titles are not textbooks. Additionally, there are supplemental reading materials, most of which would ordinarily be acquired for the collection as a matter of course.

While exceptions will be made in certain cases, the CSU Libraries are unable to meet student demand for purchasing all textbooks given limited financial resources for library materials, staffing costs, and the high frequency of textbook revisions that often occur annually.

Some ways to look for textbooks that may be available:

Search CSU Course Reserve for items placed on reserve by instructor, department, or course number to see if the instructor has placed any copies of the textbook on reserve in the library.

Check PRIMO to determine if the textbook is available within the Libraries’ collections either in print or electronic format. Remember that books may be recalled by other library users.

Request the textbook through Interlibrary Loan.  This service will take time, and a new edition of a textbook may not be available for loan. Typically this is a short term loan of 4-6 weeks and subject to recall by the owning library.

Visit the bookstore to find price comparisons for textbooks or also review other online retailers.

We are working with instructors to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives, including:

Using an existing e-book in the relevant subject area from the library’s e-book collection or requesting that the library purchase one. Many academic e-books aren’t considered textbooks, and are therefore available for the library to purchase.

Adopting an open educational resource (OER). OERs are freely available educational materials that are openly licensed to allow for re-use and modification by instructors.

Linking to content from the library’s existing collection of electronic resources (e-books, journal articles, streaming media, and other digital materials).

Efforts will be made to secure online materials that are free from digital rights management restrictions (DRM) in order to ensure unfettered student access. DRM includes limits on the number of users that can access a resource at any one time, as well as limits on copying, printing, and downloading.

Any instructor or faculty member interested in sourcing lower cost textbook options should contact their library liaison.

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