Textbook program helps students with pricey problems

By Shanna O’Mara

Nights out at Killarney’s Publick House, lunches at Tastee Sub Shop, Greek life dues, cranberry gear, dorm decorations —there is an endless list of things to spend money on when in college, but what often damages a bank account most are textbooks.

Last fall, President Gregory Dell’Omo launched the Textbook Reserve Program aimed to aid freshmen with the cost of higher education, and the program has doubled the amount of books available since then.

“It is likely that some students have saved hundreds of dollars by using the textbook reserve program,” said Dean of University Libraries F. William Chickering. “A side benefit is that since the textbooks do not leave the library, there is the tendency for students to study with them longer at each session, and study earlier, so as to be able to use the books without waiting.”

Moore Library on the Lawrenceville campus has 288 textbooks available for two-hour use, and Talbott Library on the Princeton campus has 22 textbooks, according to Moore Library Department Chairperson Robert J. Lackie. Last fall, the program offered about 120 books total for many 100- and some 200-level courses.

Since the program’s start, many freshmen have taken advantage of the offer. Moore has circulated its textbooks 588 times, and Talbott has circulated its textbooks 20 times, according to Lackie.

“Free textbook rentals are a great thing, especially for freshmen,” said Jennifer Londregan, a junior behavioral neuroscience major. “My first year here, I was naïve enough to buy all the textbooks when they weren’t all necessary, and that’s $800 I will never get back.”

The United States Public Interest Research Group surveyed more than 2,000 college students in 33 states and on 156 different campuses and found that the average student spends as much as $1,200 each year on textbooks and supplies.

“Free textbooks in general are a great idea because it’s so expensive to buy or rent all of the required textbooks on top of what we pay in tuition every year, especially when some books, math for example, cost up to $200 each and are hardly ever used,” Londregan said.

While upperclassmen would also benefit from being able to borrow textbooks for free, the program cannot yet afford to include books required for 300- and 400- level courses.

“Library funds are always limited, and balancing expenditures for journals, databases, monographs and media, which have strong value over time, with expenditures for textbooks, which have a short shelf life, presents a challenge,” Chickering said.

Because the Textbook Reserve Program does not provide books for upperclassmen, they have to purchase books, which many professors recommend.

“Many faculty see value in students owning their texts, annotating them, reviewing them and referring back to them as their studies progress,” Chickering said.

Students must present their Rider ID in order to borrow a book. A list of available textbooks can be found at guides.rider.edu/textbooks.

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