Textbooks and KU Libraries

KU Libraries do not systematically purchase textbooks used in KU classes for our collections. While we recognize that the high cost of textbooks is a growing concern for students and instructors across the country, there are a number of reasons that it is difficult for the Libraries to purchase and lend textbooks. These include:

  • One copy isn’t sufficient for the class size.
  • Textbooks quickly go out of date with new editions frequently published.
  • Electronic versions often have supplementary material that only one person is allowed to access.
  • Print textbooks are frequently stolen.
  • Library collection budgets set by the University cannot sustain the ever-rising costs of textbooks.

Find textbooks available in the KU Libraries

  • Search KU Libraries Course Reserves for items placed on reserve by instructor, department or course number to see if the instructor has placed any copies of the textbook on reserve in the library.
  • Ask the instructor to place a library-owned copy or a personal copy of the textbook on reserve for short term loan.
  • Check the KU Libraries catalog to determine if the textbook is available within the KU Libraries’ collections either in print or in an electronic format. Remember that print books may be recalled by other library users.

Other alternatives

  • Request the textbook through Interlibrary Loan. This service will take time, and a new edition of a textbook may not be available for loan.
  • Visit this KU Bookstore site to find price comparisons for textbooks. You can choose between new, used or textbook rental options from the KU Bookstore and other online retailers.

Open Educational Resources Initiatives

KU Libraries is actively supporting the use of open (free) textbooks and other open educational resources (OER) to reduce materials costs to students. This support consists of advocacy and training, grants to support the use of OER, and membership in advocacy organizations such as the Open Textbook Network and OpenStax Institutional Partner Program.


Ask a Librarian

We can help with your research questions -- contact us by chat, phone, email, text or at a Research Help desk.

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