These are the kinds of questions students ask at the beginning of the semester. The solutions they find are creative. Sometimes a whole group of roommates will share a book. In other cases, they will find a dubious copy for free online. Other times, they skip textbooks entirely. For some students, it’s a matter of buying food or buying books.
UI Libraries and UI Student Government are easing some of this burden with a collaborative project called the Textbook Affordability Pilot (TAP). Under TAP, a committee of library staff and student government representatives collect donated textbooks and purchase new ones for “high impact courses.” These are classes for which the cost of books is high and more than 100 students are enrolled in the course. These books are placed on course reserves in Main Library and the branch libraries for students to use free of charge.
Plans for TAP began in the summer of 2017, when student government approached the Libraries with questions about making textbooks more affordable. The UI Libraries encourages faculty to bypass traditional textbooks where possible by using books from the Libraries’ collection and using open educational resources. The Libraries also keeps copies of some textbooks on course reserve. Despite these efforts, librarians and students realized more could be done.
UISG Director of Academic Affairs, Tristan Schmidt, and Scholarly Communications Librarian, Mahrya Burnett, along with interested colleagues, began to explore the idea of purchasing textbooks and collecting donated copies. There was broad interest on both ends. Eventually, UISG and UI Libraries both allocated funds, totaling $17,000 for the one-year pilot. The committee drafted a set of criteria for books to be included in TAP and identified objectives for success. Then they started buying and collecting books.
As TAP began accepting donations last spring, the response from students was overwhelming. They donated hundreds of books, filling the UISG offices at the IMU. The committee is now working with faculty, students, and librarians to finalize its purchase list in order to get new books processed and on the shelves. TAP aims to have 100 books available for student use through course reserves at the Main Library and several other campus libraries by spring semester 2019. Their hope is to see the program grow over time so that more and more books are available for the students who need them.
For complete information about TAP, visit http://guides.lib.uiowa.edu/TAP
TAP information for students
Can I access my textbooks for free? One easy way to find out whether your textbook is on Course Reserves is to use this simple search tool. Search by course name, instructor, or book title.
TAP information for faculty, instructors, and TAs
Do the textbooks for my course qualify for TAP? Faculty can email email@example.com to see if their textbooks are TAP eligible.