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Hot topic for Week 1: Does the library have a copy of my textbook?

Published by Mark Bodnar

Happy September, everyone!  It's wonderful to see the huge increase in the energy level of campus.  We've missed you all!

I thought I'd repost (with updated links) a note I wrote a few years ago about the most common question in the library at this time of term.  Hope it's helpful...


QuestionDoes the library have a copy of my textbook?


We don't try to buy every textbook for every class taught at SFU. There's no way that we could get enough copies for every student, and it's generally a better use of the budget to focus on the other resources you'll need to do the research projects in your class.

Having said that, some texts do get bought, especially in cases where instructors arrange for copies to be put on short-term loan in our Reserves collection, thus allowing for use by all of the class. In addition, some instructors loan us their own copies of a textbook for Reserves. Those ones are also in Reserves, but with a location code of Prof Copy ###.

Even if the book isn't in Reserves now, it might have been bought for Reserves in a previous semester and moved upstairs to the regular collection after that course was finished. In those cases, just try searching our catalogue by title and/or author for your text.

Can't find it in our collection at all? Try searching some of the other local colleges and universities. If they have it, there are ways that you could sign it out yourself from those libraries.

Remember, though, that even if you find the book here and are able to borrow it with a semester-long loan period, others in your class are probably looking for it and could Request it, which will cause your loan period to be reduced to 3 weeks. Relying on borrowing a non-Reserves copy of a required textbook instead of buying it can be a gamble.

Hope that helps!

-- MarkB

​P.S.: And... because instructors, too, recognize that textbooks can be prohibitively expensive...

  • an increasing number of instructors assign various online library readings instead of a single textbook.  If you've been given such a list and are having trouble finding the articles and reports listed, use any of our Ask-a-Librarian services to get help; 
  • and some of them have been able to find suitable, high-quality and free OERs (Open Educational Resources) as replacements. Double-check that your instructor hasn't already given you a link to a free version of your text!

Mark Bodnar
Economics & Business Librarian