For the first blog entry of the new year, let’s tackle the most common question we receive at the beginning of every semester… and I’m not talking about “Do you have a bathroom?” because, yes, yes we do – on both floors. No the magic questions is:
“Does the library have the textbooks for [fill in name of class here]?”
The answer is maybe.
Unfortunately, we can’t purchase every textbook in use at UCCS for the semester. Picture the cost of the textbooks for just your own classes. Now picture buying the textbooks for every other class being offered. Now picture buying multiple copies so that you’ll have enough to cover more than one student per class. Now picture doing that every single semester for as long as this university is in existence. Not a pretty picture, is it?
But we do own some textbooks, and if we do they will either be on reserve for a class or upstairs in the main collection.
First, let’s talk reserves. Sometimes professors place textbooks and other class readings (or listenings or viewings, for those who use music and movies) on reserve in the library. The idea behind course reserves is that it gives a class the chance to “share” a copy of a book, CD or DVD. The materials can only be checked out for a limited time (ranging from 2 hours to a week, depending on what the professor requested). In this way, one student can’t keep the library’s copy of the book all to themself for the semester without incurring very hefty fines.
Want to see if any of your classes have textbooks on reserve? Click the “Course Reserves” link in the center of the library homepage, then search by either your class number (start with the department abbreviation, ie Chem 3310 or Hist 1030) or your professor’s last name. If there is an item on reserve for your class, it will be behind the main circulation desk, so ask for it there.
How do we decide which books are kept on reserve? Well, the library doesn’t. Individual professors ask us to place books on reserve, so if you feel like this would be useful for your class, talk to your teacher.
No reserves for your class? We have many books upstairs in the main, circulating collection, some of which happen to be textbooks. If you know the name of the book you can look it up in the library catalog using a title search. (When a book has a really generic title, like “Calculus” or “Organic Chemistry”, you’ll probably want to do an advanced search where you can combine title and author.) If you get a result, check it carefully: We all know that new versions of textbooks are published regularly, so there can be many different editions of one book. Look closely at the item record to make sure the publication date or the edition number matches the version you need. Sometimes professors will allow you to use earlier editions for classes. Also pay attention to the book’s Status: Available means it’s here, a due date means it’s checked out. If the Location says “Reserves”, the book is here but is actually on reserve (see above). If the library doesn’t own the book, or our copy is checked out, you can search the Prospector catalog to see if another school can send it to you, which will take several days. Remember that if you find the book in the library, you can only check it out for the standard loan period: 3 weeks for undergrads and 6 weeks for grad students. You can renew the book if no one else has placed a hold on it. And by the way, if you decide to just keep the book all semester despite the fact that someone else requested it, you A) are not being a good library citizen and B) no longer have a free textbook for the semester because you’re going to be paying for it in overdue fines. If you bring in a book from another library, it also has to be returned on their timetable.
Ultimately, we can’t guarantee that we can help find every textbook you’ll need through the library, but come see us at the Reference Desk if you need any help looking. Have a successful spring semester!