I work in a college library, and I was wondering if any other academic librarians experience this situation too. This is the first week of the semester, which means it's the annual parade of students coming to the library trying to find their textbooks for free.
Don't get me wrong - I sympathize with the high cost of textbooks. I was a college student myself only a few years ago. But these students are always so *surprised* when I tell them that we rarely carry textbooks, or if we do, we only have one copy, and somebody else already beat them to it. Do they really think that we are going to buy 30 copies of every textbook used in the school and then loan them out for an entire semester? It would eat up our whole budget and then we'd have no money left for other books that the students would need for researching their projects and assignments.
I admit it, I'm whining. I know that some of these students are probably in difficult financial situations, and therefore are truly desperate to save money in any way possible. But it still annoys me when, for the tenth time that day, a student comes to the desk, holds his syllabus in front of me and asks, "Do you have this book?"
But I am always friendly to all students. At this point I go into my routine. I smile and tell the student that we generally don't carry textbooks, but I'll check the catalog for the title just in case. Oh sorry, it looks like we don't have it.
I do agree that the high cost of textbooks is unfair, but libraries just aren't in a position to eat that cost for the students. What is the solution? Maybe something like this or this.