UISG announces textbook donation, libraries say coming soon

UISG announces steps to create a textbook-donation system.


The Daily Iowan; Photo by Ben Al

The Reference Collection at the Main Library on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. UISG is offering a new service for students to donate used textbooks to the library for semester length checkout. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Sarah Watson, [email protected]

The University of Iowa Student Government has announced plans to create a textbook-donation system aimed to bring more affordable textbook and resource options for students.

Still in planning, the program would allow students to donate books to the library for future students to check out for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time.

UI Libraries said more information would be available next semester.

In an announcement video posted on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, UISG outlined why it wanted to make this service available: rising costs of textbooks.

Prices of textbooks have increased by nearly 88 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The idea for the textbook donations originated with Nate Robinson, the UISG chair of the Academic Affairs Committee.

“We all know how much textbooks cost, and I feel like this could be a very cool way to alleviate the burden,” Robinson said. “You give away a textbook, and then someone else is doing the same thing and giving the textbook you need for the next semester.”

Right now, students can return textbooks they purchased to the Hawk Shop for up to half the price — if the book is in high demand and good condition, according to the Hawk Shop website.

Instead of returning the books for cash, UISG Director of Academic Affairs Tristan Schmidt said he hopes students will want to donate books instead of receiving much less compensation than what they paid for them.

“We want students to see more value in giving a textbook to another student instead of getting $5 back for it,” Schmidt said.

Although the program is still in planning, UI Libraries looks forward to accepting donations in the near future.

A statement from the library system said, “Our goal is to help reduce the burden of textbook costs and ensure students are aware of library resources. We are currently in the early planning stages and will have more details about this collaboration in the spring semester once our plans are solidified.”

“We ask that students not donate their books yet, because we are not prepared to process large volume of donations at this time,” Scholarly Communications Librarian Mahrya Carncross said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

This isn’t the only initiative UISG has undertaken this year regarding textbook affordability.

In a Senate meeting on Dec. 5, UISG passed a resolution urging university officials to create accountability standards for professors and other faculty to share booklists with the Hawk Shop to cut down on textbook prices.

Delayed book orders can cause price increases on average of 20 percent for new textbooks and 59 percent for used textbooks, the resolution said the Hawk Shop found in an internal audit.

According to data from the Hawk Shop, at least 449 book orders in 2017 were not acquired or given to the Hawk Shop by faculty or departments.

Sharing booklists with a bookstore in a contractual relationship — for the UI, this would be the Hawk Shop — is also required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

UISG’s resolution said more accountability measures would help the university comply with the act.

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