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Faculty Services: Textbooks in the Library

Textbooks in the Library Collection

Faculty often request that the Library acquire electronic versions of the textbooks used in their courses. Unfortunately, that option is not available for many of the more prominent textbook publishers. Specifically, publishers such as Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, and Pearson will not allow libraries to acquire e-book versions of their textbooks.

Unlike print books, e-books are invariably licensed rather than sold. That allows publishers to restrict

  • who can license the content
  • who can access the content, and for how long
  • the extent to which users can read, download, copy, and print chapters, pages, or excerpts of the text.

Many publishers have found that they can maximize revenue by marketing their products solely to individual users.

Students in courses that use these textbooks must purchase print copies, if they’re available, or acquire the e-books directly from the publishers or their agents. In some cases, the Library can acquire print copies for Course Reserve, but we cannot normally afford more than one copy of each text.

We encourage faculty to investigate alternatives such as

  • using textbooks from publishers that allow libraries to license their products
  • using books that are suitable for course instruction but marketed and sold as conventional books rather than textbooks
  • using open educational resources (OERs)--online textbooks and instructional materials that are freely available online
  • within Moodle, posting or linking to individual chapters and articles to the extent allowed by the Fair Use and Educational Use provisions of copyright law.
  • working with the subject librarians to identify alternatives to the textbooks available from publishers such as Cengage, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson.

Open Educational Resources are especially attractive to many faculty, since they are freely available online without restrictions on access, use, downloading, or printing.

The Mason OER Metafinder of George Mason University can be used to identify OER textbooks and other instructional materials in a wide range of subject areas.

SUNY OER Services also provides a rapidly growing set of OER texts, videos, interactive exercises, problem sets, and assignments.