USF, or The University of South Florida, has had a student in the past who has helped other students find textbooks for free under the profile “Textbook Liberation Project at USF.” The student’s name is Tristan Lear, a major in women’s and gender studies. He took textbook requests from students through email, Facebook, and in person. It’s kind of hard to believe he didn’t take requests through cell phone as well – at least for the people he actually knows.

Standing up for textbook liberation doesn't have to be a USF project alone (photo by BryanAlexander)

Standing up for textbook liberation doesn’t have to be a USF project alone (photo by BryanAlexander)

To make his work even more widespread, he would challenge those students to announce to their peers in class that he had a free link to it – meaning that they did not have to spend money on their books.

Most of the students who received Lear’s help did not contact him again; seemingly because they would have no need to for that semester.

But there was one, Frank Cirillo – who was an incoming freshman in 2013, who decided to follow Lear’s wishes by announcing to his class that a +300$ textbook was available online, free, in PDF format.

According to this article on Textbook Liberation, Cirillo met Lear while he was outside of the on-campus Barnes and Noble – with a sign that said “FREE TEXTBOOKS.”

He was handed a flyer, then went up to his room to search for the books he needed. Out of the fourteen that were required, he was able to get seven for free.

With both of the men working to better help the students at USF, Lear estimates that more than 80,000 dollars was saved from all of the students that were helped by both him and Cirillo. He says that Cirillo most likely pulled in 15,000 dollars out of the total 80,000.

Because of the success of the Textbook Liberation Project, Lear’s got some new ideas for the new semester. The only thing is that this project is too big for one person alone; so he calls for the help of other students.

Considering how, even though I’m sure a lot of time and effort was put into the Textbook Liberation Project, many students were helped in however many different classrooms, learning many different subjects – it makes me wonder how easy it would be for someone to search for these books on their own. Thankfully, there are sites like to help you through the process.

Even still, the one problem I have with the article is that if USF was really behind the Textbook Liberation Project, they would have gladly linked to the sites that Cirillo was given on his flyer.  It just goes to show that the whole college thing is really about money. Which is unfortunate, but it is the safest way to a better life for yourself.