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ENGL 3923: Shakespeare, Race, and Appropriation

Making Textbooks Affordable

Making Textbooks Affordable

All students deserve to be able to access course texts. The high costs of textbooks and other course materials prohibit access and perpetuate inequity, and Barnard librarians are partnering with students, faculty, and staff to increase access. The Barnard Library recommends the following strategies for students to access course texts at no cost, as well as advocating that faculty make their texts more accessible via the Library.

The following are some ways you can find affordable texts through the library and beyond. For more information, please check out the libraries Making Required Texts Affordable page on the library website.

  • See if the item has been placed on course reserve by your professor.
    • Reserve items are available for a limited time (usually two hours). You can use the libraries scanners at no cost to make copies.
    • For more information on course reserves, check out the library's FAQ
  • Check the CLIO, the library catalog, to see if a copy of the book is available through one of Barnard or Columbia Libraries. For education related item, you might also try the library catalog for Teacher's College.
  • You can request books and other materials from libraries outside the Columbia system through two services: 
    • Borrow Direct allows you to borrow books for up to 16 weeks with no renewal. Books take 3-4 business days to arrive.
    • Interlibrary Loan can be slower, and loan periods are often shorter than Borrow Direct, but there are more libraries to choose from if your particular item is difficult to find. One advantage of Interlibrary Loan is that you can use it to request a scanned chapter of a book. 
    • Here’s a helpful chart that compares the services offered by Interlibrary Loan and Borrow Direct.
  • The New York Public Library You will find NYPL titles listed in CLIO, which can be recalled from offsite, but in some cases it might be faster to visit one of the branches yourself. Additionally, some materials may only be used at the research branches of the NYPL while others may be checked out. This requires the extra steps of getting a library card and going off campus for non-online materials. The closest branch to Barnard's campus is Morningside Heights.
  • The Barnard FLIP Library is a collection on the fourth floor of the Milstein Center that provides textbooks and other course materials for low-income and/or first-generation students. It is a collaboration with the Columbia First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) and was inspired by Columbia’s FLIP Library, which is housed on the fourth floor of Butler Library (see below).
    • Student who identifies as low-income and/or first-generation and attends Barnard College, Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, or the School of General Studies may check out materials from the Barnard FLIP Library for an entire semester.
    • Use this form (students must provide their UNI) to receive semester-long borrowing privileges. Books can be checked out at Circulation just like any other books from the Barnard Library.
    • The Columbia First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) maintains a lending library of textbooks and other course texts inside the Milstein Undergraduate Library on the fourth floor of Butler Library. 
  • Students with financial need or insecurity can consult with the Dean of Studies about alternatives for getting access to course texts.
  • Students have recommended the Barnard Buy Sell Trade Facebook group as well as textbook rental (via services like Chegg and Amazon Textbook Rentals). The Barnard Library has not reviewed any of these services.
  • Though not course-related, the Beyond Barnard's Career Development Office has a library of books related to interview prep, workplace etiquette, women in leadership, specific careers, general career guidance, and graduate school guidance that students can borrow.