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SOU textbook-sharing program becomes a victim of budget cuts

ASHLAND — A program that allows Southern Oregon University students short-term access to expensive textbooks at the Hannon Library is scheduled to end June 11 because of budget constraints, university officials said.

Since 2002, a copy of every textbook that costs $100 or more has been given to the library by the SOU Bookstore and placed on reserve for students to check out for library use only for a maximum of four hours.

The Bookstore/Library Textbook Share Program started as a response to students' concerns about the high cost of textbooks. Students who aren't able to afford their textbooks are able utilize the library copy.

Bookstore director Tannia Shewman said the bookstore can no longer afford to purchase and donate a copy of every textbook for the program.

"We have tried to keep the program alive, but at this point, there is just no budget," Shewman said.

Neither students nor faculty were notified of the decision to end the textbook program.

"There was no discourse or dialogue about the decision," said Brent Cummings, circulation student coordinator at the Hannon Library. "If the process could've been communicated better, it might have allowed students who utilize and care about the program to offer solutions on how to save it. Students are frustrated and angry at the process."

"It's really crazy to hear," said Danny Quilici, a video production major. "I know a lot of people who rely on it. Some people can't afford all of their books, so they use the Text Share."

With a course load of at least three classes, full-time students could pay $300 or more for textbooks each term. Certain textbooks, such as accounting and chemistry, are more than $200 each.

Library Dean Paul Adalian said he would like to see the program continue.

"We recognize its importance and are willing to put in the time to keep this program as a resource," Adalian said. "If the bookstore allows us to keep the old books that they've already donated, and we can figure out a way to keep adding new books, possibly through the student fee committee or another group that could provide funding, then we could turn this into a positive situation for everybody."

"It's a really popular program and a lot of students are surprised and upset," said Bill Herman, library reserves coordinator who works closely with the bookstore for the Textbook Share Program. "We are still hoping that something can be done."

"I used the Text Share for my math class last term," said freshman Kasey Siliga. "I ordered the book online, and it wasn't here yet, so I was able to check out the book at the library and do my homework. I was able to take it out for two hours, which was more than enough time."

Since news of the program's termination has been making its way around campus, a Facebook page called "Save SOU text-share!" has been started in hopes of creating student awareness.

To find out more information, contact Adalian at adalianp@sou.edu.

Ashe Lyon is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at ashe.lyon@gmail.com.

Kasey Siliga a freshman at Southern Oregon University has used the library text book lending program but is philosophical about its demise, ìcollege is expensive.î Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell