Some use library books for texts

Danielle R. Swopes

Students looking to save money on textbooks are getting back to basics and going to the library.

It is not a guaranteed plan, but trying to find costly books in the library is definitely worth a shot.

That is the thought that occurred to Wyatt Jones, a journalism major who works at the circulation desk in the Oviatt Library.

“It’s very hard to come across the money to buy the texts, so anything helps,” Jones said. He just started looking for textbooks at the library this semester, and said that he found the books for two of his five classes. He estimated that he saved around $100.

The idea is to search the library catalogue for the required texts, check them out, and just keep renewing until the book is no longer needed.

There is the possibility that someone else will place a hold on the text, preventing a renewal, but should that happen students still have time to get what they need from the text. Just be the one to place the next hold.

“It’s hit and miss about what’s going to be available,” said Mary Woodley, the collection development coordinator for the library.

Roxana Rezai, business marketing major, said that one of her professors gave her the idea to borrow rather than buy. The required text would have cost $135, but her professor urged the class to check the library for an older edition before purchasing. Rezai only needed the book for six weeks, and even her professor said that the differences would probably be cosmetic, not content-related.

“I’m going to end up doing it again,” Rezai said.

This semester, she is already on her second book from the library. She waits until she actually needs the book in class, and then reads it cover to cover before the due date. “It’s hard to do, but I’ve got to do it,” she said.

Rezai noted that a lot of books are also available as text on the Internet, so she simply e-mails them to herself and reads them at home, without having to worry about late fees or competition.

Rezai also said she checks not just the Oviatt, but public libraries as well. She has given books to her public library in the past, and received tax credits for her donation. Those credits were worth more than buyback at the bookstore offered her.

Amy Berger, the director of the Matador Bookstore, said that the bookstore is expanding the buyback program. “The Matador Bookstore paid students over $1.5 million for their books last year,” Berger said.

The bookstore is also testing a new loyalty program, the Boomerang card, which gives points for purchases that can be redeemed for gift cards at the bookstore or other retailers. The cards act as incentive for students to continue purchasing from the campus bookstore, rather than turning to the Internet or the library.

For those who do turn to the library, Woodley confirmed that donations are accepted and that they do receive many requests for texts at the reference desk. The library never sees a full text list, so it is impossible to guess how many courses still use books in the library’s collection, Woodley said.

Faculty can put in purchase requests so their texts are available, but budget constraints are making such requests difficult to fill. Also, publishers sometimes wait until the last minute to announce that they are going to put out a new edition.

Woodley added that publishers seem to be reluctant to put electronic editions on the Internet, such as Rezai has found, because “they’re worried that students wouldn’t buy the book, and it would cut into sales.”

“We sympathize with the students, this really has to stop,” Woodley said. She has a son who is attending college, and she said from personal experience that “it’s very difficult to justify some of the prices.”

Professors can put books from their private collections on reserve on the fourth floor, said Danielle Ste. Just, the reserves, periodicals, and microform supervisor.

Students can borrow the materials for a specific amount of time, ranging from overnight to a few hours, so this method is best used for studying or a specific assignment.

Jennifer Roe, a psychology major, plans to start looking in the library for her books. This is her first semester at CSUN, and she said she spent roughly $600 on books. “It’s kind of ridiculous,” Roe said. After paying high prices at the bookstore, she said that from now on she will check the Internet and the library.