Getting Required Course Readings

Getting Required Course Readings
Tim Siftar
October 1, 2007
Feeling thrifty? Ready to go to some extra lengths to get your readings? Already scouted the bookstore, , Amazon and Here's the shorthand version of what we tell folks at the Reference Desk.

First, your best bet, be sure to see what your faculty have made available on Library Reserve for your class. If there is currently NOTHING on Reserve, not even a copy of your textbook, you might ask your faculty WHY? Be sure to look under both your faculty's last name and your course number before you hassle them. It is up to the faculty whether or not they want to put a book on Reserve or not - but even with reminders, sometimes they forget...

Second, it's a long shot, but it can be worth searching the title of your required book in the Library Catalog - just in case the item is there by chance - or listed as an e-Book. The Library carries TENS OF THOUSANDS of electronic books these days.

JUST AN ASIDE: Someday when you're not in a rush to find your textbook, try browsing our list of e-book collections. Just so you know - all e-book titles are included as individual entries in the Library Catalog, but sometimes it's just better to browse the vendor's whole collection to see how they group them. Plus if you go into the vendor's interface it is possible to keyword search the full-text of all the e-books themselves. Try that in a database like eBrary and you're searching the full-text of more than 20,000 of e-books (even if their search engine is lame).

Third option, feeling lucky? If Drexel doesn't own a copy, or even if it's on Reserve, it may be available through our consortial lending network - think of it as a book catalog with the combined holdings 80 other colleges and universities around PA, NJ, DE - because that's just what it is! - PALCI-EZBorrow. One big drawback though - if you are taking a popular class everyone else is looking for the same textbook too. And sometimes the participating libraries just decline to lend a book. TIP: search for your exact title or ISBN instead of browsing on account of slow retrieval speed.

A last ditch effort - try emailing your Subject Specialist Librarian. If the book has some "shelf-life" potential - not a textbook that has a new edition every year - it's very likely that your librarian will order a copy of whatever you request. While we can't order multiple copies to accommodate everyone who might need it, we would be happy to put the book on Reserve if it is not already there.

One other "hail mary" approach when time is running out, is to look for the book in the UPenn book catalog. Graduate students may be aware that they can get a UPenn guest borrower card at the Hagerty Circulation Desk to borrow UPenn books right off the shelf. While undergrads are stuck using EZBorrow to receive the book, there is nothing stopping undergrads from walking the block or two over to UPenn to photocopy the first required portion of a book. This can be an effective stopgap method when the book hasn't even come into the bookstore yet.

There you have it! Happy hunting!