Pilot Program Allows Students to Checkout Textbooks at UA Libraries

  • June 6th, 2018
Meredith Hill, a University Libraries student-employee, tags books at the SUPE Store to indicate the library holds the title.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Libraries is continuing a program this summer that could help make textbooks more affordable for students.

Michael Arthur, UA associate professor of libraries and head of resource acquisition and discovery for University Libraries, said thanks to a partnership between UA Libraries and the SUPE Store, 177 textbooks will be available for students to access for free at campus libraries during the 2018 summer semester.

This includes both print and online books.

In the spring 2018 semester, a total of 837 textbooks were available for students.

“We’re trying to help students who have to make a decision on whether or not they can afford to purchase a book, which they often have a hard time selling back,” Arthur said. “If we can let them know ahead of time that we have the book, that will be a good thing for University Libraries and the students.

“We are hopeful that this pilot project will generate interest and more collaboration between University Libraries and faculty on campus to bring forward new, innovative ways of incorporating free and library-funded resources into the classroom.”

The SUPE Store, in both its Ferguson Center and Starbucks locations, allowed University Libraries to put tags in books at the stores to indicate that those books are available in the library’s collection, either in print or online.

Arthur said University Libraries generally does not purchase duplicates of print books, so these titles will be available for a two-hour reserve. These books can be checked out more than once, however.

Electronic textbooks are more available. They can be accessed by an unlimited number of students for as long as needed.

“In some cases, the book isn’t available online or University Libraries is not able to acquire the specific title,” he said. “And, we aren’t trying to go out and purchase SUPE Store stocked textbooks. University Libraries actually has a policy to not purchase textbooks, but a lot of the books assigned to classes aren’t traditional textbooks.”

Textbook affordability at UA was already of interest and concern when the idea to provide class required books for free at the library came out of a SEC Meeting of SGA Leadership that Arthur attended in Gainesville, Florida, in the summer of 2016.

“It’s really difficult to address textbook affordability,” he said. “I’m just glad that we have an initiative underway to try and help.

“The program will continue to evolve and improve based on feedback from students and faculty.Together we can provide high quality materials for students at the Capstone.”


Donna Adcock, University Libraries, dbadcock@ua.edu, 205/348-8833


Jamon Smith, media relations, jamon.smith@ua.edu, 205/348-4956

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.