In defense of course reserves: A review of California programs

Caleb Nichols

Abstract

In his 2015 opinion piece “No reservations: Why the time has come to kill print textbook reserves,” Librarian Donald A. Barclay makes an argument for getting rid of what has become a standard service in many academic libraries: course reserves. Barclay claims that textbook costs are out of control, and that while reserves programs are resource-intensive, they do little to ease the financial burden of most students. While it is true that maintaining a healthy reserves collection can carry significant costs, the claim that students aren’t helped by reserves collections doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Furthermore, reserves services do more for campus communities than simply save students a few dollars each term. Thoughtfully managed course reserves programs not only help mitigate the ever-increasing cost of textbooks, they also bolster student and faculty engagement, create opportunities for library outreach, and are one of many ways libraries are staying relevant and student-centered in the 21st-century academic ecosystem.

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