This year, a new resource is available on campus for students who struggle to find the textbooks and resources that they need: the Lending Library. Together, the First Generation Student Organization (FGSO), Minorities in STEM (MiSTEM) and Scot Council are hoping to help students experiencing budget constraints and/or other barriers to obtain necessary materials. Savannah Sima ’23, the FGSO President and First Generation Low Income (FGLI) Scot Council Representative, spoke on how vital collective resources like the Lending Library are to our campus, saying, “One of the biggest barriers to remaining in college for FGLI students are the out-of-pocket costs.” Sima continued, “The cost of basic necessities for our dorms, technology for our courses and textbooks in tandem with bills that most students can defer to their parents to cover can be debilitating for FGLI students. This Lending Library can help mediate one of several out-of-pocket costs that FGLI students generally have to deal with, which is also a barrier to obtaining their degree.”
Zach Sharrow, the Interim Librarian of the College and a consultant of the Lending Library, said, “The fact that multiple groups are working on projects like this underscores just how much of a barrier textbook prices can be to student success.”
Depending on the class, textbooks can range from $25 to over $150. Adding on the prices of textbooks for at least three other classes, the cost of class materials is astronomical. It is important that these student organizations have identified an abysmal problem and are working to solve it.
Furthermore, educational resources other than textbooks are oftentimes required. Access codes and online portals for homework pose an additional, and sometimes even more costly barrier to access for courses at the college.
The Lending Library has resources for all students, no matter their specific interest. Textbooks from a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities and STEM, as well as GRE and LSAT prep tests, are currently being collected for the whole campus to utilize.
STEM books ranging from MCAT Prep Materials to Organic Chemistry and Statistics II textbooks can be dropped off in the Timken Library. Humanities textbooks should be dropped off at the Andrews Library circulation desk. Questions about textbook and resource donation should be directed to the employees at the circulation desks.
STEM related materials for any interested students can be found in the Timken Science Library. Humanities textbooks and resources can be found near the printers in Andrews Library.
Though the number of books in each collection is relatively small in size, they cover a wide variety of topics and will only continue to grow.
Students can check out the textbooks for one week at a time, allowing more people to have easy access to the books. At this time, only textbooks are available at these locations; however, the organizations in charge of the Lending Library are open to suggestions for other materials to place out. Non-textbook materials, such as calculators and modeling kits, are distributed to department chairs and student organizations. Interested students can contact the appropriate party.
MiSTEM, a relatively new organization founded in 2018, is interested in creating an online system to make it easier for students to see what books are available in the Lending Library. “We created the Lending Library with the vision of perpetuating a more inclusive STEM program. The goal is for all students, regardless of background, to excel in these programs,” remarked the Public Relations Director of MiSTEM Emma Tobin ’24. MiSTEM has high aspirations for the future, hoping that students will provide a multitude of materials for the Lending Library to help FGLI and that non-STEM students will be exposed to the materials.
FGSO, which was started in 2017, has worked closely with the other founding groups to help form the Lending Library and bridge the gap between what students are experiencing and what they need. Sima stated that, “working together to make this textbook collection extensive is our first goal, but being able to collect other materials for student organizations and departments generally is an exciting opportunity that will come from consistently organizing these book drives.”
So, if you no longer need that O-Chem textbook, drop it off at Timken and help others on campus learn all that they can. Reach out to Tobin at email@example.com or Katia Sofia Gonzales ’23 at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute or have any questions!