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Meeting the Textbook Needs of Engineering Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Considerations for the Collection Conscious Librarian

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.928.1 - 25.928.12



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Paper Authors


Theresa M. Calcagno George Mason University

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Theresa Calcagno is the Liaison Librarian to the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Prior to that, Calcagno was a Research Librarian for an engineering project consulting firm.

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Jessica Bowdoin George Mason University

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Jessica Bowdoin is currently the Head of Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery at George Mason University. She has served in this role since June 2008. She was previously the Distance Education Librarian and Head of Interlibrary Loan at East Carolina University, and a Reference Librarian at the College of William and Mary. She obtained her M.S.L.I.S. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Meeting the Textbook Needs of Engineering Students In Summer 2009, the Head of Interlibrary Loan (ILL) at [University Name] analyzed ILLborrowing statistics from the previous academic year and found that forty-six of the top fiftyrequested titles had been requested by multiple students in the School of Engineering. Furtherresearch revealed that: • all of the titles were engineering textbooks; • the library already owned the majority of these titles; and • the courses using these textbooks were primarily in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The Engineering Textbook Reserves Program was conceived by the IT/Engineering LiaisonLibrarian and Access Services staff, including Reserves and ILL, as a result of this analysis. Theprimary goals of this program, which was implemented during Fall Semester 2009, are to: • increase access to high demand engineering textbooks by more effectively utilizing existing library resources and services; and • help alleviate engineering student demand for textbooks by placing them on reserve without faculty intervention. Each semester, textbooks that are deemed high demand are identified using information fromthe University Bookstore. In addition, ILL tracks incoming requests to identify other engineeringtitles for inclusion in the reserves program. The IT/Engineering Liaison places reserve requestsfor the books, notifies the faculty that their textbook is on reserve and requests they notify theirstudents that the course textbook is on reserve. The program has been very successful from the Libraries’ viewpoint. Over the past foursemesters, a total of seventy-one different titles have been placed on reserve for seventy differentcourses (86% graduate level). These books have been checked out over 1500 times during thisperiod. Through careful monitoring of the engineering reserves, sixteen titles that were neverborrowed were identified and removed from reserve. The program’s goal of increasing access tohigh demand engineering textbooks has been met. Students now have more equitable access tothese textbooks than was offered in the past through a circulating copy and copies borrowedfrom other libraries through ILL. The Engineering Textbooks Reserves Program has been a cost saving program for the[University] Libraries. The Libraries estimate a cost savings of $12,600 in ILL borrowing costsfor engineering textbooks since Fall 2009. The cost of new or updated editions of textbookspurchased for the program ($3617) has been minimal, accounting for approximately 2.4% of thetotal discretionary funds available for Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineeringpurchases from FY 2010 through FY 2012. The need for this program is reassessed at the end ofeach semester and as long as the demand exists, the [University] Libraries will continue to offerthe Engineering Textbook Reserves Program.

Calcagno, T. M., & Bowdoin, J. (2012, June), Meeting the Textbook Needs of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21685

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