Academic Affairs Committee attempting reform of textbook program

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Following a vote at next week’s MCSG meeting, the Textbook Reserve program may see small changes moving forwards as the Academic Affairs Committee attempts to streamline the program in their bill. The Textbook Reserve program, a collaboration between the AAC and the library, provides students with textbooks for short-term checkout periods.

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“We’re changing a couple things, predominantly,” AAC chair Caroline Duncombe ’18 said. “The first thing that we’re changing is the way that we purchase textbooks. In the past, the chair of the Academic Affairs Committee would order the textbooks online … [this bill would] change the way we purchase textbooks to be more efficient, to take out a lot of middle people that were in the process that shouldn’t be in the process. It’s going to be more of a direct relationship with the library.”

“The library are the ones who really know how to purchase books, because it’s what they do on campus,” AAC member Andrea Grimaldi ’16 said. “So we’re trying to see if there’s any way if, while MCSG [still] gives the funds and the AAC decides the textbooks that we’re purchasing, if the library could be the one actually buying them.”

If the bill is approved, the library would be purchasing the needed textbooks rather than having the AAC chair purchase them. However, the AAC will still be soliciting requests from professors regarding which books to buy, and how many of them will be needed.

“The library provides us with statistics about which books are checked out most, but we send application forms to professors to make requests for the textbook reserve,” Duncombe said.

The program, which both Grimaldi and Duncombe called one of the most successful programs in the library, continues to grow in popularity.

“This year, we started advertising before class started, to the Economics classes. So a lot of first years in the very first week of class would go to the library and be like, ‘Hi, we’ve heard of this program, how can we get in?’” Grimaldi said. “So we got a lot of feedback from the library, like ‘Oh, we’re really interested in making sure that this a settled program that keeps working and it’s sustainable’…it’s not huge changes. It’s just enough to make sure it’s more sustainable.”

The initiative will continue to be funded from the student activity fee through MCSG.

“Any changes to be put into effect won’t occur until the spring,” library Director Terri Fishel said, stressing that the details of the changes are still being worked out between the AAC and the library and are contingent upon the passing of the bill next Tuesday. “However, the main point is that the library will continue to provide access to the textbooks bought and placed on reserve with MCSG funds. That won’t change at all.”

The second change will be the depth of the Textbook Reserve’s list of textbooks. Many of the textbooks needed on a yearly basis roll over, making it unnecessary to purchase them two years in a row and freeing up money for other textbooks to be purchased in those off years.

“It looks like for now we have covered the basic courses,” Grimaldi said. “Now we’re looking for, if we’re actually going to be buying different books, then what should we be considering?”

“Because we already hit the big textbooks, we found that this semester there were a lot of smaller textbook requests, for textbooks that maybe weren’t hitting the 150s [in dollars]—but were maybe hitting 70 dollars, ” Duncombe said. “We’re purchasing 63 textbooks next semester across eight different departments. We’re just getting more and more textbooks every year. Eventually, it’s going to be huge.”