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Finding and Accessing Content for Courses: Free, Open, and Affordable Resources: Textbook Purchase Recommendation

University Libraries' Textbook Purchase Program

We want to help faculty find no- and low-cost alternatives to high-priced course materials. But NIU Libraries and the Textbook Task Force also purchase some required textbooks based on faculty recommendations. Print textbooks purchased through this program will be put on two-hour reserve at the Circulation Desk for student use in the library. We also purchase ebooks, but only those available with library-licenses which allow for unlimited users. Because of limited funds, we may not be able to acquire every textbook requested. Please submit your request, using the Textbook Purchase Recommendation Form.

Criteria for Textbook Purchasing 

  • Priority is given to high-priced books or materials which will be used in high-enrollment courses or courses with multiple sections. 

  • Precedence is given to materials that will be utilized for several semesters. 

  • Undergraduate and graduate course materials are eligible. 

  • Texts with single-user codes will not be purchased unless the faculty member notes that materials accessible only with a code will not be used in the course. 

  • Course packs and customized textbooks are not eligible for purchase. 

  • Loose-leaf and spiral-bound texts, which are easily damaged, are not eligible for purchase. 

  • Multiple copies of textbooks will not be purchased. 

  • Ebooks with licenses that do not permit unlimited users will not be purchased (note: submit your request and a librarian will check what licenses are available for the title).

  • Not all materials requested will be purchased; selection is contingent on the available budget. 

Textbook Task Force

Task Force to Improve Access to Textbooks


  1. Develop a plan for adding textbooks to Founders Library Reserves on a sustainable basis.
  2. Create a resource for NIU faculty about the impact of expensive textbooks on students that includes resources for discovering high quality low cost or free alternatives to textbooks.
  3. Provide information and resources for students about how to find and access their textbooks.
  4. Draft a white paper that summarizes how academic libraries across the spectrum are addressing the high cost of textbooks both independently and in cooperation with other departments within the institution and make recommendations for implementation in the libraries at NIU.


Textbook Task Force Members

Leanne VandeCreek, Associate Dean, Public Services 753-9804
Wayne Finley, Associate Professor and Subject Specialist for Business 753-0991
Larissa Garcia, Associate Professor and Subject Specialist for Art; Family, Consumer & Nutrition Sciences 753-4822
Michele Hunt, Assistant Professor and Acquisitions Librarians 753-6985
Jim Millhorn, Associate Professor and Subject Specialist for History 753-1054
Dee Anna Phares, Assistant Professor and Subject Specialist for Psychology;
Leadership, Educational Psychology & Foundations; Women's & Gender Studies; Juvenile Collection (Chair) 753-1770
Sara Richter, Library Specialist, Print Reserves Processing 753-9813