As a general policy, The University Libraries do not purchase textbooks that are used for instructional purposes at The University of Alabama. Exceptions are made for certain disciplines and in certain cases. It is impossible for the University Libraries to meet student demand for all textbooks at The University of Alabama given our limited financial resources for library materials, staffing costs, and the high rate (often yearly) of textbook revisions.

Exceptions include:
  • A faculty member may donate a textbook with the request to place it on reserve.
  • Subject librarians may purchase a textbook that they determine significantly supports teaching/research interests at The University of Alabama.
  • Gifts of textbooks will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine the long term value for the Library's collection.
Not all texts used for instructional purposes are textbooks. For example, many titles published by university presses lend themselves to adoption in classroom instruction, but such titles are not textbooks.
Textbooks are defined as : "An edition of a book specifically intended for 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." ODLIS – Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz, Libraries Unlimited (Last updated November 19, 2007).
Textbook Characteristics:
  • Includes study questions, problems, discussion topics at the end of individual chapters.
  • May be published in subsequent editions.
  • Designed to be used by students for courses of study – introductory, intermediate, advanced.
The University Libraries view the purchase of textbooks as part of the student's expected cost of pursuring a degree in higher education, whereas the library collection is intended to provide research materials and other resources which supplement the learning experience taking place in the classroom.
November 25, 2008