Affordable Textbooks? You Have Options!

According to this New York Times article, college students spend between $700 and $1000 per year on textbooks. Yikes! I was an English major in college, so I was lucky to be able to find at the library many of the works we studied. But for those gen ed courses, it killed me to have to spend as much as $50 for a textbook at the bookstore (I know, it seems like nothing now…), especially since I knew I wouldn’t want to keep the book and would be lucky if I could get a third of its value back by selling it back to the bookstore afterward. At the beginning of each semester, students swarm to the Research Assistance desk for help finding copies of their textbooks in the library. Sometimes they luck out, often with a slightly older edition, but we don’t generally purchase textbooks for our collection because a new edition comes out each year, and, well, they’re expensive. Given the choice between spending $200 on a textbook that might be used by one class, for one semester, and putting that money towards, say, an online resource that would be used by the entire campus, you can see why we usually don’t choose the textbook. (We do always ask faculty to consider putting copies of their textbooks on reserve, though! Here’s our full policy on textbooks.) The textbook publishing industry thrives on producing a new edition every year, and encouraging professors to adopt that new edition for classroom use instead of the older edition that’s often nearly identical. Until very recently, publishers reaped huge profits by bundling what are called “ancillary materials” with textbooks — you know, the CDs, the study guides, the stuff you often don’t use. They packaged that stuff with the textbooks in order to justify charging a much higher price than the book alone would cost. However, in July 2010, a bill introduced to the Senate in 2007, Senator Dick Durbin’s College Textbook Affordability Act, finally went into effect. Among other things, it requires publishers to offer for sale just the textbook, as well as the “bundled” version with all the other stuff included. If you don’t see a non-bundled version of a textbook for sale at the bookstore, talk to your professor! After all, even though the publishers are now required to offer them for sale, you can bet they’re still marketing the bundled versions to faculty. You can also check out sites that allow you to rent textbooks by the semester or shorter periods of time — they’re kind of like Netflix for textbooks. That NYT article linked above will point you towards some of these sites. I haven’t had any personal experience using them, so I can’t vouch for them, but I hear good things. There are also growing collections of free online textbooks — take a look at this list of provider sites. Our own mathematics professor David Massey has even written a free online calculus textbook! Interested in getting involved in the movement for affordable textbooks? Try starting here.

Students at the Library

This post is not about students who use the library. We all know that tons of students find us useful. This post is about students who work here; some have for many semesters, others have begun only recently. Most are work study students, several are co-ops. Below are their profiles, with pictures. (Co-op Jordan Hellman, 2013) (Graphic Design Co-op Steve Olimpio, 2013) (Work Study student Kristin Richardson, 2011) (Erin Beach, Resource Sharing) (Vicky Lucas, part time worker, circulation) (Joyce Lin, DMDS co-op) If there is anybody I missed who wishes to be profiled, please let me know. I’m sure there are. (Unfortunately for my ego, I can’t profile myself. No longer a student.)

Snell Library: 20th Anniversary Director’s Cut

Want to be a library star? This year marks the 20th anniversary of Snell Library, and we intend to celebrate. At the epicenter of our celebrations will be a web video that we need your help with. We’re inviting all current NU students who love the library for an on-camera interview this summer as part of the project. We want to  talk to you about what makes the library special and why you keep coming back. This could be you. Please contact Programming and Communications Comittee chair Tom Urell at or 617-373-8346. Please keep in mind that this project is still in development, so we may not be able to answer all questions as of now. Thanks, and we hope to hear from you!

DMDS Exhibit Showcases Sierra Smith, Photographer

Come to the DMDS to see the photographs of Sierra Smith, Journalism, ’14. This video highlights most of the photographs in the show. Curated by DMDS co-op Abigail Ochse, Digital Arts, ’12, this exhibit displays an expressive potpourri of vibrant images covering a range of subjects. Regarding her creativity, Sierra Smith wrote: “I don’t know if I’ve been working long enough to develop a style, but my work does tend toward the artistic, rather than the journalistic. It’s often fairly colorful, too. Though I would say I’m pleased with my portfolio, it’s been mostly limited by my camera; I’ve been using the same one for years, and it’s not exactly something a photographer would flaunt. Because of its quality, my work is often narrowed into a single style. However, it also forces me to compensate by looking for things that another photographer with better equipment may not see. While he’s letting the camera dictate his photograph, I’m letting my artistic vision do the honor.” Come see the show in person through the summer. If you are interested in exhibiting your work in the DMDS next fall, please contact Debra Mandel

Recording Studios open for business at the DMDS

The Digital Media Design Studio (DMDS) has two recording studios available for student use. Based on your equipment needs, you may be required to book an appointment with a DMDS staff person while using the audio and video recording studios. Studio Guidelines 1. No food or beverages are allowed in the studios. 2. All users of the studios must have a current NU ID. Audio Recording Studio- Room 208 The soundproof studio seats up to five people comfortably. Software includes GarageBand and Logic Pro. Hardware includes a MacPro, a 4-channel Mackie mixing board, an Oxygen 8 USB midi keyboard, and a condenser microphone. Video Recording Studio- Room 210 The soundproof studio accommodates individuals and small groups. A green screen is mounted on the wall. A professional quality three-point lighting kit is also available for use by appointment only, in the DMDS. The Video Recording Studio can be used simultaneously with the Audio Studio, depending on your production needs. Copyright and appropriate use Use of the DMDS is governed by NU’s appropriate use policy and by copyright law. For more information consult this link: