Upon reading Chrissy Callahan’s article, “Books for classes: Less is more” in The Hoot, I am surprised to find that the most convenient alternative to book-buying is not mentioned at all: Interlibrary Loan. This process is fairly simple, and it allows you to obtain your textbooks from the library without being tied to reading them in the library. How does this work? Start at the LTS website, and click “Find Books and More.” From here you will see a link for “Other Library Catalogs,” and then World Cat. Simply search for your textbook, click on the title, and press “Get it.” If Brandeis has a copy, make sure to make a note that our copy is checked out or you need it for more than the 2 hours that reserves allows (only if this is true, of course!). The ILL department will order your book and deliver it to the main library for a loan period of about a month. Note, however, that you need to order it early–the process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
While this is not a viable alternative for textbooks that are used throughout the semester, I have found it very useful for those books that we only read and discuss for a short period of time. If you’re never going to use a book again, why buy it when you can get it from the library?