Opinion: Teach-your initiative – professors and faculty should put more required class materials on reserve in the library

Kevin Sheridan and Kevin Sheridan

American River College has a program in which professors can put their required textbooks on reserve in the library for students to use if they have not already purchased the book.

This program, which operates on a voluntary basis, allows these books to be more readily accessible to students, helping students going without significantly. A concentrated effort by faculty and professors to increase participation in this program should be focused on.

A larger portion of ARC courses’ reading materials being made available for rent would further help students to gain access to the books they need, something that becomes all the more important when it’s common-knowledge that many students have problems affording them now.

The current system in place has helped students not only gain access to materials they would have otherwise just done without, but has aided in their ability to pass their classes.

Capitalizing on the success is simple – professors at ARC should increase their efforts even more in getting their course materials available for reserve access..

According to a report from CNBC, college students pay an average of $1,200 on books and supplies, with a single book costing an average of $200.

American River College students are no exception to this statistic, and many cannot afford to purchase the books or online supplemental materials they need for a class.

Steven Suarez, a student at ARC who is majoring in Business Administration, says that professors having more books on reserve would help students who are otherwise cash-strapped.

“I’ve noticed with my own experience, (with) students who add late, it’s not economically possible, so I feel like having a textbook on reserve is really helpful,” Suarez said.

Putting these books on reserve is currently a voluntary service, but professors who choose to take part say they do so to help students.

Kirsten Corbin, an English professor at ARC, says she puts her required books on reserve for this reason.

“We put our books on reserve … mainly for those students who don’t have the finances to buy the books at the beginning of the semester so they still have access to the book and can still do the assignments that we’re asking them to do out of it until they can get the finances to get the book on their own,” Corbin said.

One of the obvious drawbacks of using textbooks on reserve is that you cannot take the book home with you, and it is only available to you for an hour at a time.

The system can be refined, however, and currently having a textbook for only an hour is better than not having one available at all.

Another factor that needs to be looked at concerns the online course materials that are sometimes required by professors for students to take their class.  Working out rental deals of some kind with the companies, while difficult, would prove beneficial in the long run and increase availability to students across the board.

Several higher-level classes at ARC require the purchase of such material, but even general education courses may require them as well.

Noah Decker, a professor at ARC who teaches Nutrition 300, notes in his class syllabus that the purchase of an account with WileyPlus is required for the course.

WileyPlus is one of many online-supplemental materials that may be required to successfully take a course, and with WileyPlus running $80.50 according to WileyPlus’ website, there will be students who would benefit from it being more accessible on campus.

At a time in history when education is more important than ever for those who seek to improve and secure their financial future, professors and administration should work on creating partnerships and striking deals with course material manufacturers to more readily get these materials in the student library.

The cost of education is ever-increasing, and with no end in sight to the rising rates of tuition, books, and online course material, there is no better time to focus efforts where they should have been all along – helping students succeed at college, regardless of their economic standing.