K-State Libraries help save students money on textbooks

K-State Library textbooks on reserve at Hale Library. (Stephanie Wallace | The Collegian)

Need a textbook for your class? Check to see if K-State Libraries has it available at Hale Library through their Textbook Affordability Program.

Zain Iqbal, user services specialist at Hale Library, explained how to use textbooks on reserve.

“Textbooks on reserve are books that are placed on hold essentially by professors for students to use in a particular class,” Iqbal said. “The reason this is important is because a professor can place a book on hold, for example, for statistics or English. That means that a student can come here, and if we have it, a student can check it out with their K-State ID, use it for a number of hours and then they can turn it back in, and then another student can perhaps do the same thing.”

K-State Libraries has textbooks on reserve thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Student Governing Association. Jason Coleman, director of Library User Services, said they used the money to purchase textbooks specifically for classes that met their selection criteria.

“We worked with student government to get grant funds to help us purchase textbooks for some courses, and this was the beginning of the Textbook Affordability Program,” Coleman said. “We used that money to purchase textbooks for several classes, especially those with high enrollments, but also those with high dropout rates, high percentages of first generation students and also high percentages of students who have financial need.”

The Textbook Affordability Program, started in fall 2016, is an initiative supported by K-State Libraries and the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship in order to provide students with better access to textbooks for their classes.

“The Textbook Affordability Program’s aim was to provide, through the K-State Libraries, at least one available copy of the main textbook for selected undergraduate courses,” Rebel Cummings-Sauls, director of the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship, said.

In addition to textbooks, Coleman said students can check out other materials in the reserves collection, such as example tests and rocks for geology classes.

“Most of it is textbooks, but there are other materials,” Coleman said. “We do have rocks. We used to have carpet squares for a textiles class. We have microfilm, we have some current periodicals, some example tests, videos, some articles that professors have printed off, some fiction books as well.”

Though many textbooks on reserve can be checked out and taken home, some materials cannot leave the library. Loan periods can last from two hours to two weeks.

For materials that cannot leave the library, Iqbal said groups of students can check out materials and study together.

“We have a lot of students who will come in and do group study, especially on the second floor of Hale Library,” Iqbal said. “We check out one book per ID, so they can check out a book and share it.”

Students who don’t want to do their work in the library can also scan textbook pages using the library’s free scanners and save them via email or a USB flash drive.

Besides saving money, Cummings-Sauls said students have many reasons to appreciate the library reserves.

“We know at the start of each semester that many students will not have their textbook because they are on backorder through the campus bookstore or through an online textbook store,” Cummings-Sauls said. “Students who drop and add classes at the start of the semester also find themselves scrambling for a textbook. We also hear from students throughout the semester who could not afford to purchase the textbook, lost their textbook or simply did not have their textbook with them.”

Though textbooks have been on reserve for many years, Coleman said that K-State Libraries wants to increase the availability of textbooks in order to help more students.

“We wanted to bolster the number because we know that [textbooks] have become increasingly expensive,” Coleman said. “Students struggle with the cost of college education. We have heard of some students who drop out because they can’t afford their textbooks. We want to do what we can to help solve that problem.”

Through the efforts of the Textbook Affordability Program, K-State Libraries has already helped many students thanks to the textbooks on reserve.

“As this is only the first year of this program, we cannot fully assess the impact that this program had or will have,” Cummings-Sauls said. “But we do know that we had the opportunity to support over 850 students enrolling in 55 K-State courses.”

Coleman said he would like to increase those numbers.

“Ideally, if we had a lot of money, we could buy textbooks for every course,” Coleman said. “Unfortunately we don’t have that money, because textbooks are expensive, but what we can do is work with professors and try to encourage them to bring copies of textbooks.”

Students can help by asking their teachers to place materials on reserve and by donating new or gently used textbooks.

To see if your class has textbooks on reserve, call the library and have your course number and instructor’s name ready. You can also chat with library staffers online, visit the help desk or go to www.lib.ksu.edu.

I’m Stephanie Wallace, and I am the assistant news editor of the Collegian, a contributing writer, and a copy editor. I’m a senior, majoring in English major and minoring in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. You may have seen me riding my scooter around campus as I rush to my classes and much too many clubs. Some organizations I work with include the English Department Ambassadors, K-State Libraries Student Ambassadors and The Burrow — K-State’s chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance.