Textbook acquisition policy

About the policy

Approved by Library Cabinet: June 2022

Due to the exceedingly high costs associated with textbooks, how quickly these materials go out of date, and limited shelf space, the UC Berkeley Library does not generally acquire textbooks in electronic or print format during routine collection development activities, and the Library does not have the resources to provide sufficient textbook access for every student. 

For the purposes of this policy, textbooks are defined as the following (from the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz, Libraries Unlimited):

“An edition of a book specifically intended for the use of students who are enrolled in a course of study or preparing for an examination on a subject or in an academic discipline…sometimes published in conjunction with a workbook, lab manual, and/or teacher’s manual.” 

The Library maintains a course reserves service since course reserves is one way the Library helps students mitigate the exceedingly high costs of instructional materials. Through course reserves the Library may acquire textbooks and/or other instructional materials upon instructor request depending on budget, staffing considerations, and material availability. However, due to the Library’s limited budget and staffing, we cannot acquire copies of all reading materials a student would need for a course. The Library welcomes donated copies of textbooks and other instructional materials for reserves from instructors who are teaching a course in a particular semester. The Library also supports instructors who would like to create open educational resources (OERs) for their classes.

In addition to course reserves, instructors are encouraged to contact subject librarians as soon as possible to request specific materials needed for a course such as anthologies, digests, manuals, handbooks, novels, datasets/text files, readers, film/media, images, etc. These requests will be strongly considered though acquisition may depend on factors such as Library budget, staffing, and/or licensing issues. Additionally, upper division, graduate, or professional-level materials may be acquired given funding availability.