Meeting the Textbook Needs of Engineering Students




Calcagno, Theresa M
Bowdoin, Jessica

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American Association for Engineering Education (ASEE)


In early 2009, the Head of Interlibrary Loan (ILL) at George Mason University analyzed ILL borrowing statistics from the previous academic year and found that 90% of the fifty most borrowed titles had been requested by students enrolled in the Volgenau School of Engineering. Further research revealed that: • 100% of the titles requested by engineering students were identified as IT/Engineering textbooks according to the Departmental Textbook lists kept by the University Bookstore; • the Mason Libraries already owned 76% of these titles; and • 83% of the courses using these textbooks were either in the Computer Science or Electrical and Computer Engineering departments. As a result of this analysis, the Engineering Textbook Reserves Program was conceived by the IT/Engineering Liaison Librarian and Access Services staff, including Reserves and ILL. The primary goals of this program, which was implemented during Fall Semester 2009, are: • to help alleviate engineering student demand for textbooks borrowed through ILL by placing these titles on reserve; and • to increase access to high demand engineering textbooks by more effectively utilizing existing library resources and services. Over the subsequent four semesters, seventy-one different titles have been placed on reserve for seventy different courses (86% of which were at graduate level). These books have been checked out over 1,500 times. Through careful monitoring, sixteen titles that were never borrowed were identified and removed from Reserve status. The program’s goal of increasing access to high demand engineering textbooks was met and since Fall 2009, Mason Libraries realized a savings of approximately $16,800 in ILL borrowing costs for engineering textbooks. The purchase costs for new or updated editions of textbooks have been minimal. The total spent, $3,130.68, is approximately 3.0% of the total discretionary funds allocated for Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering purchases for FY2010 and FY2011.



Library course reserves; Engineering; Computer Science; Inter-library Loan


Calcagno, Theresa M. and Jessica Bowdoin. “Meeting the Textbook Needs of Engineering Students.” Paper AC2012-5576. Published in the Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, 119th Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, June 2012.