Even the Odds: Libraries Solving the Student Textbook Problem

The FNU Library has various collections of books to check out and read. Books from the General Collection could be checked out for three weeks and renewed, if nobody else is waiting in line to read the same book. General Collection contains books for every educational program that is offered at Florida National University. If we have an academic program, or there is an education course, we have books for each program or course for student research and write student papers. Also we have a DVD collection of non-fiction and fiction subjects; educational flash cards for Anatomy, NCLEX exam, civil citizenship test, etc. The FNU Library has a great Spanish Collection of non-fiction and fiction literature. It is important for the community that people have access to multicultural resources and able to read books in the language of personal preferences. The Library consumes maps and atlases, paperbacks of fiction literature, and even a small collection of Juvenile books for children (makes sense – we have a daycare on campus!) and for ESL learners who needs to practice reading for beginners and advanced learners.

The Reference Collection of encyclopedias and dictionaries and the Periodical Collection of printed magazines and academic journals are not for checking out. Students and faculty can make copies and read them in the Library. Of course, we have current newspapers to deliver information in traditional way, along with Wi-Fi access to Google engine, and other digital resources.

The FNU Library offers a rich selection of digital resources online that are available 24/7 for students in Online Education, for students in Bahamas, for any student that have to, or want to use eBooks, articles from digital academic journals by assigned topics, digital set of encyclopedias to write essays, student papers, and make complete assignments to study, learn, and research.

Today, we will talk about our Reserve Collection of textbooks. Reserve Collection has an abbreviation of four letters code (RESV). It is a special area of the library where faculty can place high demand items – typically required course readings, the textbooks, – to ensure that those items are highly accessible to students. Reserve items usually have a check out time to study in the Library. In addition, students possibly will make copies of required chapters from the traditional printed textbook. Current textbooks do not leave the library building. They are not in circulation. Instructors copy of the textbooks cannot be placed in the General Collection for circulation, because they are for teaching, and often have answers to the solutions.

There is a new trend in universities around the country: many bookstores are closed or downsized for the reasons that in today’s educational world there are various opportunities to access course textbooks. Students can rent, buy used or new books from Amazon or any other specialized digital bookstores online. Some colleges and universities provide tablets with digital textbooks.

At the Florida National University Library, students have access to Reserved Textbook collection to study in the Library. The Library has extended hours of operation, from Monday to Thursday, from 8 to 10, Friday from 8 to 9, and Saturdays, from 8 to 5. The Library staff offers flexible hours to use the Library and brand the offer to use textbooks on campus. It is important that the Library in conjunction with teaching professors provide the Library’s Reserve Collection with latest editions [not older than five years!] Why? Because sciences and technology moving on fast forward, and we have the social and information mechanics responsibility to shape up to the current student-faculty needs with intellectual context to search and find information, to explore and navigate Library resources, to browse and discover new personalized opportunities for learning and self-improvement.

In the modern condition, when Bookstore offers limited access to textbooks, the Reserve Collection of textbooks is more important than ever! The faculty-librarian partnership to obtain textbooks is a must. During the past years, Library staff established good relationships with the textbook publishers’ 9vendors) representatives from Wolters Kruger, Pearsons, Cengage, Townsend Press, even Elsevier. Teaching faculty members are entitled for the desk examination copies that started to move from traditional printed books to digital eTextbooks. Unfortunately, Libraries do not have the same luxury.

The textbook distribution got direct competitors to deliver products, and, we in the Library, supply the customer experience by offering a reserved copy of the textbook to study and learn, and by making sure that every student has access to the reserved course-textbook for student success and academic achievements. Also, do not forget that we have quiet individual study rooms equipped with computers. Just a month ago, the both campuses at Hialeah and South got new state-of the art updated Copy/Print equipment for the Library; and the Library offers scanning services.

The main point is that textbooks are expensive, not every student can effort to purchase them, and this why students have access to their course-textbook in the Library: it saves students’ money, every student is able to have access to the same version/edition of the textbook, students are engaged, better prepared, and in the end, students are experiencing better learning. The Library’s Reserve Collection of textbook access is meant to give students better options of immediate support, affordability, and personal attention.

For now, this model is working, but the future of new opportunities calls for growth of online education, access to eTextbooks on individual tablets, or on Blackboard learning management system. The new Generation Z entering higher education with excellent soft skills: spending 3 to 4-hour of work online, 1 to 2-hour on social media. They good in playing games on line, but do not know multi-steps of computer programs. Unfortunately, 53% students have below poverty standing, 69% of students only can make work in class, and 57% work from 10 to 29-hour per week.

People say, it takes a village to make the service right. It is a united effort of faculty and librarians resulting in the ability to obtain student access to at least one copy of the current textbook to share with others, throughout the library services. Faculty members as business professionals are responsible to remove and update new editions of textbooks in Reserve Collection. Here would be a great opportunity to say “Thank You” to our best supportive faculty and also to students who often at the end of the course donate their books to the Library to share them with students for easy-on-the-pocket support.

Ida Tomshinsky, Library Director