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Textbook Purchases Policy

It is the general policy of the University of Maryland University Libraries (UMD Libraries) not to purchase copies of textbooks or solutions manuals. The UMD Libraries define a textbook as a monograph specifically intended for work in a classroom environment. However, not all texts used for instructional purposes are textbooks. For example, many titles published by university presses lend themselves to adoption in classroom instruction, but such titles are not textbooks. Additionally, this policy does not apply to supplemental reading materials, most of which would ordinarily be acquired for the collection as a matter of course.

While exceptions will be made for certain disciplines and in certain cases, the UMD Libraries are unable to meet student demand for all textbooks at the University of Maryland given limited financial resources for library materials, staffing costs, and the high frequency of textbook revisions that often occur annually.

Exceptions include, but are not limited to:

  • A faculty member may donate a textbook with the request to place it on reserve
  • Subject librarians may purchase a textbook that they determine significantly supports teaching/research interests at the University of Maryland. Subject librarians choosing to purchase multiple textbooks from a single publisher are encouraged to investigate and discuss possible bulk purchasing options
  • Gifts of textbooks will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine the long term value for the Library's collection

The UMD Libraries view the purchase of textbooks as part of the student's expected cost of pursuing a degree in higher education, whereas the library collection is intended to provide research materials and other resources which supplement the learning experience taking place in the classroom. However, given the high costs of textbooks, the UMD Libraries are currently engaged in a number of initiatives aimed at assisting students defray the cost of attendance. Current initiatives include:

Textbooks Reserves Program

  • The Libraries will purchase one (1) copy of a textbook for large undergraduate general education introductory or large high-level courses (e.g. Professional Writing)
  • Courses eligible for the program are the largest 50 courses (combining sections within each course) based on the offered seats
  • Details on the program and list of courses available at: http://www.lib.umd.edu/access/top-fifty-textbooks
  • The Libraries may discontinue this practice if:
  • Resources to support this program are unavailable
  • Print textbook publication declines significantly, and e-books cannot be purchased and placed on e-reserve at a reasonable cost

Textbook Affordability Initiative

  • The Libraries and the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center are developing the Textbook Affordability Initiative http://oer.umd.edu
  • To help instructors/faculty navigate the growing number of free, open access textbooks, the Libraries have developed the OER (Open Educational Resources) guide: http://lib.guides.umd.edu/oer

As the environment surrounding textbooks continues to evolve, this policy will be updated to reflect new initiatives and developments from the UMD Libraries and the library community within higher education.

Policy created 2015; Reviewed and approved by CDC 6/23/15; Revised by CDC 2/21/17.