Textbook Purchasing Guidelines

As a general rule, the University of Tennessee Libraries does not purchase assigned textbooks for addition to the UT Libraries collections. Materials are added to the collection, on a case-by-case basis, only if materials support research and learning in general. 

Reasons textbooks are not purchased:

  • One copy is generally not sufficient for an entire class, and buying multiple copies is prohibitively expensive. 
  • Textbooks are generally expensive and constantly updated, and repetitive purchasing of largely duplicative content is not a good use of our resources. 
  • Most publishers do not sell e-textbooks to libraries, and we do not have the physical space to house a growing collection of print textbooks that are likely to be quickly superseded. 

Possible exceptions: 

  • An instructor may place a personal copy of a textbook on reserve. 
  • Faculty may request that the Libraries purchase a single copy of a textbook and place it on reserve. 
  • Faculty who have authored a textbook may request that the Libraries purchase and place a copy on reserve. 
  • Subject librarians may determine that a textbook significantly supports the university’s teaching/research interests. 

Textbook alternatives: 

UT Libraries tries to provide digital content that is free from digital rights management* restrictions. Librarians work with instructors to explore and identify viable e-textbook alternatives, including: 

  • E-books, journal articles, streaming media, and other digital materials that are already in the Libraries’ collections. 
  • Open educational resources (OER)—i.e., materials that are in the public domain or that are published under an open license that allows free use and sharing. 
  • Scanned chapters and articles from print materials (subject to copyright limitations). 

To compare options, see the Libraries’ Faculty Choice website. 

*Digital rights management are restrictions publishers place on content to protect copyright and prevent sharing. These restrictions limit the number of simultaneous users allowed to access the content as well as the number of pages a user may copy, save, download, or print. 

Contact your subject librarian for assistance with sourcing your course materials. Or submit a request through the Suggest a Purchase form.