Q: Hi Dave! I'm in a bit of a jam and wondering if you can help me out---I signed up for an intersession course ("Rad Science: The Inventions and Experiments of Nikola Telsa") and I can't seem to get a hold of a copy of the textbooks (Lightning in His Hand and Tesla: The Modern Sorcerer). Does the library ever purchase textbooks and, if so, where would I get them?
A: Ah, Telsa! The reason I can't flip on a light-switch without thinking about Death Rays. Occasionally K-State Libraries will have a textbook more-or-less by coincidence. Say you're taking a class on Young Adult Literature and don't want to buy your own copy of Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War. We have a copy, though it's not expressly labeled as a textbook (although, if you aspired to become a bully/corrupt school administrator this might be the textbook for you). But we don't typically buy the most recent editions of, say, Calculus or Public Speaking textbooks.
Why not? They're expensive---prohibitively so---as in if we decided to start buying textbooks we'd have no budget for other books. We'd also probably have to cut staff and 'ol Dave here would have to go back to hustling spinsters via musical theatre to make ends meet.
Sometimes, though, we may have an older edition of a textbook---this may not be ideal, but if very little has changed from the 1st to the 2nd edition of Encyclopedia of Serial Killers it may work out for you.
Your best bet is if your professor or the department he/she teaches in has purchased textbooks and placed them on Reserves at the Hale Library Help Desk. Not all professors do this but it's a great service to the folks waiting for Varney's or Amazon to get their books. A quick search of our Course Reserve with your class info, or a title search of the entire Catalog will reveal if we own the book or not.
Because a book or item on Course Reserve is intended to be used by the entire class, the check-out period is shortened---either 2 hour open (can be taken out of the Library and overnight), 2 hour close (can't leave the Library), 1 day, 3 days, or 7 days---depending on what your professors wants. Reserves items, like the textbook Lightning in his Hand, also accrue fines if not returned on time. For more information about check-out times and fines for reserves items, check out our Reserves Policies.
That was a lot of information, so you can, as always, contact the friendly folks at the Hale Library Help Hesk on the 2nd floor with any questions you might have (which, coincidentally, is where you'd pick up books on Reserves).