9/24/2014

Arrr, how ye be getitng ye textbook?

So, let's get this straight right off the bat - I am in no way asking you to self incriminate in any way.

That said, however, I do wonder what hoops you have had to jump through in order to get access to the required textbooks for your class? If this recently published study is to be believed, you might have been like one of the 25% of surveyed students who resorted to illegally downloading a copy of an eTextbook.
"Study Indicates College Textbook Piracy is On The Rise, But Fails to Call Out Publishers for Skyrocketing Prices."

Here in the library we are directly impacted by those rising costs as well, which is why we can not possibly have on hand a copy of every textbook used on campus; we could spend our entire annual budget on textbooks and only buy a fraction of them you need. And, unlike those in the survey (perhaps unfortunately), our professional code forbids us from resorting to piracy. This leaves us with the question - how do how do we work together to get you access to the textbooks you need without breaking either of our banks or the law?

Though I am sure my colleagues in our Book and Document Delivery department, specifically those who work on providing reserves, might have more to say on this than I do, there are a couple things that come to mind. One, perhaps more long term solution is to support open access projects like Open Access Textbooks. They are a grant funded organization, based in Florida, that is working to set a model for states around the nation for Creative Commons licensed textbooks.

Another might be to call out publishers for their predatory pricing practices, as @techdirt mentions in the above tweet. But again this is more of a long term solution. And, while encouraging faculty to author more open access textbooks, and publishers to reign in their tactics, might be fine goals, they're not particularly helpful for you today.

Another strategy that might help more quickly, is to encourage your faculty to partner with the library to provide the textbooks you need on reserve. Talk to them about the very real impact the skyrocketing cost of course materials is having on you, and refer them to us. We have policies and procedures in place to help them provide you with the materials you need in your classes.

And, in the meantime, what other solutions have you found to this problem?

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