Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Utilizing Library Resources for Free Access to Textbooks

Have you ever thought about the portion of your budget that might go toward having access to the textbooks you need? Well, there might be a couple of saving options like buying used books, borrowing from a friend who had the course before, or renting a book. However, none of them are free and in many cases, they might be relatively expensive in a way that even buying the used ones or renting them may not be so different from the new books.
But, you may not need to pay for your textbooks. All you need is some patience, planning, and knowing where to look for them! I want to share how I utilize a combination of library resources to have free access to the textbooks I need. These resources are the University of Michigan Libraries, the Interlibrary-loan (ILL) system through the university library, and the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL).
The University of Michigan has an extensive catalogue of all types of materials including textbooks. You can easily search the catalogue upon visiting their website. It shows you all the copies (either online or paperback) and you can request to pick them up at any UM library you choose.
If for whatever reason you could not find the book you want, you can request it through the Interlibrary-loan (ILL) system for which you simply fill out a form and the university will obtain the book for you from any library throughout the country that has a copy available for checkout.
In both cases (UM library and ILL) you will receive an email when the book is available for pick-up. You simply go to the library you selected as your pick-up location and check-out the book with your MCard at the information desk.
The last resource, that I personally use a lot, is the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL). There are several branches in the city from which the Traverwood branch is closer to the north campus and can be accessed by taking the Ann Arbor city bus (“the Ride”, free to UM students upon presenting your MCard) route number 22 which has a stop at Pierpont Commons on north campus and a stop at/close to the library. The Downtown library is the one close to the central campus and can be reached by walking or taking any city bus that has a stop at the Blake Transit Center (BTC) which is within 2 minutes of walk from this library branch.
The library membership and use of materials are free for people who live inside the Ann Arbor city limit. You can register and get a card at any branch by providing a photo ID and a proof of address. Having a card, you can request any material through the library website or check them out by visiting a branch. You can also request the book (either through your online account or in person) so that they can borrow it for you from another library, just like how the ILL works.
A nice feature of being a library patron is that you can use your membership information on some eBook provider websites that have a contract with this library like OverDrive. Upon visiting the website, you can search for and find your library (Ann Arbor district library) on its list and simply login using your library card number.
Final points:
1. It takes time and effort so DO NOT GIVE UP EASILY!
2. Take good care of your AADL card and report a lost/stolen card AS SOON AS POSSIBLE so that they can block your card.
3. Beware of the fine for late return of library materials.
All in all, these might seem harder than buying or renting a book but will save you a lot on the long run!

Written by Shiva RaissiCharmakani
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Iran
Master’s Student in Sustainable Systems

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