Textbook Acquisition Policy

It is the general policy of the University of Virginia Library not to purchase copies of textbooks.  We define a textbook as a monograph specifically intended for work in a classroom environment and have adopted the following specific definition found in  ODLIS —Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz , Libraries Unlimited (last updated November 19, 2007) : “An edition of a book specifically intended for use of students who are enrolled in a course of study or preparing for an examination on a subject or in an academic discipline…sometimes published in conjunction with a workbook, lab manual, and/or teacher’s manual.”   This policy does not apply to supplemental reading materials, most of which would ordinarily be acquired for the collection as a matter of course. 
There are a number of reasons we do not purchase textbooks:

  • One copy will generally not suffice for an entire class and buying multiple copies for all classes that need them is prohibitively expensive.
  • Textbooks are generally expensive and are constantly updated, so repetitive purchasing over time would be required once started.
  • The library has traditionally been resourced to purchase material for research and to supplement that used in the classroom, not basic curriculum material.  Purchase of textbooks would fall outside of the library’s traditional mission and beyond our current level of funding.
  • Space considerations make it impractical to maintain growing collections of textbooks in library stacks.
  •  Exceptions to this policy will be considered on an individual basis by the appropriate subject librarian.  Possible exceptions include:

A faculty member may make a specific request and is willing to put the book on reserve for an entire class.
Subject librarians may determine that a textbook broadly supports the University of Virginia’s teaching/research interests.