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College Council initiated Permanent Textbook Reserve Program

This program was imagined, developed and implemented by College Council in the Fall of 2008.

Key Points:

a) All students can use this program

b) This program places textbooks on permanent reserve in Sawyer and Schow

c) These books can be used during all library hours (you check them out for 4 hours at a time), but may not be removed from the library

d) This program has the books used in classes with large enrollments

e) Follow the below link for the titles of the books in the program, the number of copies of each title, the location of each book, and the courses associated with each book

A little bit more detail:

Funded by the money allocated through the all campus vote on the $35,000 question and generous contributions by the Dean’s Office and the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, this program places textbooks on permanent reserve in Sawyer and Schow. All students can use the textbooks during library hours. However, the textbooks must remain in the library. In addition to the new textbooks purchased for this program, the newly created permanent reserve also contains textbooks generously donated by individual professors. See below and the College Council website for more information about this program and an explanation of how the books were selected. Follow the below link to see if this free program provides textbooks for your classes.

Full explanation of the process undertaken to create the program:

The majority of the books in this program were purchased through money retrieved by the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 College Council Treasurers. In the Fall, the student body voted in an all-campus referendum to allocate $17,500 of that retrieved money to a 1914 Library program capable of benefiting all students on campus (the campus voted to allocate the other half of the money to ACE concerts). Working within that mandate, CC held several discussions and worked with interested parties to imagine, design and implement this new program. Once CC settled upon this use of the money, it presented it to members of the administration and received generous donations from the Dean's Office and the Office of the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity. Eager to maximize the effectiveness of this program and recognizing that the textbooks required for a given class change over time, CC decided to allocate the funds dedicated to this program over two periods. Thus, half of the money allocated from CC to this program was spent to purchase books now and the other half will be spent in either one year or two years (the exact date will be determined by future College Councils). Since the money allocated from the offices listed above was given for this fiscal year, all of that money was spent in this period. Thus, approximately $9,500 has been spent on this program to date and the remaining $8,750 is being held in reserve to fund the second phase of the program. CC selected books for this program in the following way. First, we sent an email to all of the department and program chairs explaining the new program and asking them to recommend books that meet the following criteria.

1) Very expensive and potentially a significant financial burden for students

2) Used in a course with a relatively large enrollment

3) Unlikely for the book to be obsolete in the near future

In that email, we also offered to provide preference to departments willing to match our purchases. Due to the budget cuts and other considerations, no departments offered to match our purchases. However, many departments provided helpful recommendations. Starting with those recommendations, we moved on to a more quantitative analysis. Working with enrollment data provided by the registrar’s office, we analyzed the enrollments in each individual course over the last six semesters (including the pre-enrollment numbers for the upcoming semester). We began by examining classes that are offered on a regular basis and consistently have enrollments over 35 students. Our first priority was to buy books for classes that met this criteria in every single semester (Fall and Spring). Once we selected books for those classes, we examined and selected books for classes that only meet the criteria in one semester a year, but have huge enrollments in that semester (for example, BIO 101). We began by identifying books for introductory level classes. However, we also eventually settled on buying books for some higher level classes as well. We tried to spread our purchases across as wide a spectrum of classes as possible. However, as you can guess from what you know about enrollment data and the criteria we specified above, the final distribution of textbook purchases favors division three and a few division two disciplines. Since many of the books selected for the program are for introductory level courses, we think that a wide range of students (including division one majors) will benefit from this new program despite the program’s emphasis on non-division one books.

Once we identified the books we wanted to buy for the program, we emailed the professors teaching the classes that used the books we wanted to include in the program. Once those professors confirmed that they would be using those books and the books would not be obsolete (to the best of their knowledge) in the foreseeable future, we purchased the books. All books were purchased at the lowest prices offered on and via Spring Street Books. Thus, a percentage of all expenditures from this program will ultimately be donated to the 1914 Library.

In our emails to and personal contact with professors, we also asked professors to donate textbooks from their personal collections. Several professors generously responded to this and donated a total of 27 additional textbooks to the program.

The computer and physical infrastructure for this program was made possible by the hard work and kindness of the college librarians. When we approached the college librarians about this project, they offered to create a new classification system to enable textbooks to be placed on permanent reserve. Previously, books could only be placed on reserve for a single semester.

Thus, this program is a product of the hard work of many people and can best be described as a collaboration between many individuals and groups. It is important to note that this program is not intended to supplant the traditional programs run by the 1914 Library. Rather, this is an addition and supplement to those programs that is available to all students. Everyone is encouraged to use these books. However, please keep in mind that there are not enough books for everyone in the class. We assumed that some kids in the class would still buy their books and other kids in the class would get the books through the 1914 Library. Thus, we are not worried that there are not enough books for every student in the class. We believe that we have bought enough books per class for the program to be effective and students to be able to access the books at their leisure. However, if many students are trying to use the books at the same time (i.e. before a big test or problem set) it is possible that there might be more students interested in using the book than there are books available at a given time. Please keep that in mind and plan accordingly if you intend to rely on this program.

This and the next stage of the program are trial runs. From these trials to take place over the next few years, the school and future College Councils will be able to determine whether or not the program is effective and worth the cost. If it proves to be an effective program, we hope future generations of College Councils and administrators will continue and expand it.

Please contact College Council Co-Presidents Peter Nurnberg ( and Jeremy Goldstein ( if you have any questions about this program or the process used to create this program and select the first round of books for the program. Follow the below link for a detailed list of books currently in the program.

Books in the program as of 1/28/2009:

See the College Council Website