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.
- Check if items for your courses are on reserve - visit our Course Reserves guide. Check out Reserve items from the Circulation & Help Desk on the 2nd floor of Barnard Library. Reserve items circulate for two hours, so you can scan pages to take with you. Scanners are available at no charge in the Barnard library in the open computer lab on the second floor and next to the PawPrint stations on the third and fourth floors of the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning. If you need help, please ask at the Circulation & Help desk.
- If it's not on Course Reserve, we might still have it the Library’s general collections: check CLIO for the item by title to see if it's available at Barnard or at one of the other Columbia University Libraries. For education-related items, you may also want to check the Teacher’s College catalog as these items do not appear in CLIO.
- Even if we don’t have the book (or it’s already checked out), you can request it to be sent here via one of these request services:
- Check Borrow Direct to see if you can borrow it from another institution. The loan period is 16 weeks with no renewal, and it usually takes 3-5 business days to arrive.
- If the item is not available through Borrow Direct, try Interlibrary Loan. ILL can be slower than Borrow Direct (particularly for textbooks), and more uncertain (you will not be able to see whether an item is requestable or know how long it will take to arrive), so if you need a book quickly we recommend finding another option. 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.
- If you identify as a first-generation and/or low-income undergraduate student of Barnard and/or Columbia, you can use the Barnard FLIP Library or the Butler FLIP Library.
- Locations: The Barnard FLIP Library is on the fourth floor of the Barnard Library at the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning; the Butler FLIP Library is on the fourth floor of Butler Library inside the Milstein Undergraduate Library. both provide textbooks and other course materials for low-income and/or first-generation undergraduate students.
- Collaborations: The Barnard FLIP Library is a collaboration between the Barnard Library, Barnard SGA, and the Columbia First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP).
- Find books in FLIP Libraries: You can search the holdings of the Barnard FLIP Library in CLIO. You can browse the Butler FLIP Library collection on the shelves.
- Check out books from FLIP Libraries: To receive semester-long borrowing access to the Barnard FLIP Library books, students must provide their UNI in this form. Books can be checked out at the Barnard Circulation & Help Desk just like any other books from the Barnard Library. To check out materials from the Butler FLIP Library, follow directions posted at the shelves.
- Fiction and creative literature that is out of copyright might be available in the HathiTrust database.
- The New York Public Library is another option for accessing books. Although it requires the extra steps of getting a library card and going off campus for non-online materials, it can be a good way to get access to some materials more quickly if they are not available or are checked out at the Columbia University Libraries. Some materials may only be used at the research branches of the NYPL while others may be checked out. Follow these instructions to apply for a library card. The closest branch to Barnard's campus is the Morningside Heights branch.
- Students with financial need or insecurity can consult with the Dean of Studies about alternatives for getting access to course texts.
- For lower-cost options, 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.
- Making materials available through Course Reserves: The Barnard Library Specialist for Course Reserves will put any circulating or digitally available items from the Columbia Libraries collections on reserve for Barnard courses. We will also purchase items for Course Reserves if we do not have access to them. Please review this guide to placing materials on Course Reserve at the Barnard Library.
- Linking materials to CourseWorks:
- Please see this page from Columbia University Libraries for guidance fair use and copyright when putting materials up on CourseWorks.
- Contact the personal librarian for your department with any questions about linking digital format journal articles, books, or film to your CourseWorks page. The librarian for your department can also talk to you about alternatives to course packets.
- Sharing course cost information to students: The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 federally mandates that price information for any texts that students are required or recommended to purchase for a course must be made available during registration. This information should be listed in the Textbook section of Courseworks. For more information, see this FAQ and these instructions for adding textbooks in Canvas or contact the personal librarian for your department.
- Sharing information through your syllabus: In Fall 2019, the Committee on Instruction and the faculty approved the following statement to be added to all syllabi. Please include this statement on each of your syllabi:
"Affordable Access to Course Texts and Materials Statement
All students deserve to be able to study and make use of course texts and materials regardless of cost. Barnard librarians have partnered with students, faculty, and staff to find ways to increase student access to textbooks. By the first day of advance registration for each term, faculty will have provided information about required texts for each course on CourseWorks (including ISBN or author, title, publisher, copyright date, and price), which can be viewed by students. A number of cost-free or low-cost methods for accessing some types of courses texts are detailed on the Barnard Library Textbook Affordability guide (library.barnard.edu/textbook-affordability). Undergraduate students who identify as first-generation and/or low-income students may check out items from the FLIP lending libraries in the Barnard Library (library.barnard.edu/flip) and in Butler Library for an entire semester. Students may also consult with their professors, the Dean of Studies, and the Financial Aid Office about additional affordable alternatives for having access to course texts. Visit the guide and talk to your professors and your librarian for more details."
Teaching with materials that are free to your students: Contact the personal librarian for your department to discuss open educational resources, using unlimited-use and DRM-free library materials, and other alternatives to textbooks.