OPINION: Still need a book for class? Check the library.

Not all the books are back to Hale Library yet, but these books on music and music theory returned in mid-January. (Bailey Britton | Collegian Media Group)

Not everyone buys their textbooks a month before class, lined up, color-coded and ready for school. Definitely not me. I’m one of those folks who wait till the last minute to get my textbooks — a month into class — hoping the syllabus lies in saying, “We will definitely use this text later in the semester!”

Even then, I don’t buy most of my books. That’s what the library is for.

Maybe you like owning a copy of your books, or you like to support authors. If for whatever reason, you enjoy paying hundreds of dollars on textbooks that you open maybe twice, you can stop reading right here.

Okay, so now that they’re gone, let me tell you how I do it.

My fellow Wildcats, Hale may have burned and there is a pandemic, but the library still gets books to students and does so safely. So take advantage of it.

Many popular classes have textbooks on reserve at the library. Anyone can check out a textbook they need for a certain amount of time – usually 2-4 hours – for free before having to return it. All you need is a Kansas State ID.

The library also, being a library, could have a book you want in the stacks. Oh yes, the stacks are coming back. Not all of the books in the newly opened Hale returned yet, but it never hurts to look.

You can browse through the stacks at Hale to find your book, or you can ask the staff on the second floor to help you find it. They like books. Let them help you. I’ve never met a mean librarian.

You can also find out online if the library has your book — on reserve or in the stacks — by visiting the library website and typing the name of the book, course subject or course number – like ENGL 100 – into the “SEARCH IT” bar. If your book pops up, you can see if the library has it.

If that’s too many steps for you, the library website also has a neat tool called “Ask a Librarian,” which lets you send a message asking if the library already owns the book you need. Someone from the library usually answers quickly during business hours.

Don’t fear getting COVID-19 from your borrowed books — library staff quarantines all returned materials for at least 72 hours before other people can use them. The staff also wear gloves when handling any returned books.

Visitors and staff must wear masks at all times in the library — except in designated eating areas — to keep people safe. More information on how Hale keeps people safe can be found on their continuations webpage.

If the book you want isn’t at Hale, and you don’t need it for a few weeks, the library also has a magical service called Interlibrary Loans. Hale can ask other libraries for the book you want, and if you’re lucky, those libraries will send the book you want to Hale for you to borrow. You can visit the Interlibrary Loans webpage to fill out a form.

The library can’t get its hands on every textbook — Hale doesn’t work miracles — but it can sure try. Hale has blessed me time and time again and it could help you, too.

When you get your book — from Hale, online, the bookstore or a friend who already took the class — maybe open it up in the newly opened Great Room; it’s a big space for big thinking.

Save some money: Hale, Hale, Hale, alma mater.