When you think of getting your textbooks, you think about either buying or renting them for a price from a bookstore or online outlet. But what about checking textbooks out at a library for free?

A library card catalog (Photo by David Fulmer)

There are many libraries – especially on college and university campuses – that carry textbooks. It is definitely worth looking into whether any of the books on your list are included in the library catalog at your local library. One issue you may have with this is that libraries tend to put restrictions on how long a book can be checked out for. For example, you may be able to check out a textbook for a month or two, which would not be long enough to cover a 15-week or more class. Although some books are only used for short periods throughout a semester depending on the class at hand, students generally need to have all the books their professors require throughout an entire semester. It’s even more important if your professor has exams that are cumulative and cover material from the entire term rather than only recently covered items.

You may not be able to find some of the latest textbooks at the library. But one good thing is that certain libraries will stock older versions of textbooks. It’s not a bad idea to take a peek at older versions of the books you have the latest editions of to see what has changed in them. Older versions may be a little simpler in terms of their layout and content. If you aren’t too impressed with how some of your textbooks are put together, check out the older versions because they could actually help you with your studies.

Another benefit of a library is that it is a terrific spot for students to gather either individually or in groups. If you’re looking for a quiet place away from your rowdy dorm room, go to the library. There are often lots of tables and study rooms available. For group projects, the library is a perfect spot to get together with your group members or to study for upcoming exams. In addition, there are shelves and shelves of research materials at your disposal that will supplement your textbooks. Microfilm or other unique research equipment is also available at most libraries. Many forms of content like this can’t be found online.

Regardless of whether you purchase your books, rent your books, or check out your books at the library, you can always use Textbooks.org as your primary resource for info about everything related to textbooks.