Beginning in the fall 2023 semester, the Ryan Matura Library at Sacred Heart University will be offering a service known as “SHU Reads for Free” that allows students to reserve library-provided textbooks for three hours at a time.
The program’s inception came from Alejandro Ramos, the university’s Student Government Association (SGA) president and The Spectrum’s Spotlight editor, this past fall.
“This program originated when I first became student government president and I wanted to really put to use the textbooks that were collected and were left in my office at the beginning of my term. We had thought about donating them outside or maybe even throwing them away but I said what better way to serve the students than making textbooks more affordable and accessible to them,” said Ramos.
Students can use textbooks for their classes and assignments without having to purchase the books. This program will be featured on all campus syllabi beginning in the fall.
“The program combines SGA-lead textbook drives on campus with a new library collection called ‘Textbook Reserves.’ Donated textbooks will become part of this lending collection,” said Susan Luchars, the Resources Development and Assessment Librarian at the Ryan Matura Library.
There are currently 168 textbooks available in the reserve, and Luchars said that they are hoping to collect as many textbooks and required readings as possible over time.
Sophomore Benjamin Shea had some concerns about textbook availability, specifically around exam times, as the reserve is just starting out.
“I have a feeling that it may be difficult to acquire one of the textbooks from the library due to the high demand, particularly given the amount of time each student has with the textbook,” said Shea.
Despite this, Shea thinks that this will be a helpful program in many ways.
“The short-term loaning of textbooks allows for the students to be able to use them for an adequate time, and it will also be beneficial to both myself and all students as it has the potential to relieve some financial strain that comes from buying or renting textbooks every semester,” Shea said.
The latter is the intention of the program: to offer assistance to the university students and to attempt to ease any financial strain that may come from having to purchase textbooks.
“Textbook affordability is a big issue on all college campuses. I heard that 85% of college and research libraries have a program that supports textbook availability. We are committed to helping students obtain their required readings in any way we possibly can. While the textbook reserve does require students to read the books in the library, it does present an option for them,” said Luchars.