Buying books on a budget? Consider a library


Chloe Williams

A student surrounded by books bought over the semesters. To save money, students can look toward Sims Memorial Library or their local libraries to borrow books.

Whether students are reading for pleasure or trying to meet deadlines for class, books are an essential and costly part of college life. 

While some texts are not too pricey, the costs can add up over one or multiple semesters, especially when the book is either supplemental or not part of the textbook rental program.  However, in these cases students across majors can head to the library to see if their textbook is available. If the book is part of the rental program, students will still be charged the $50 book rental fee for the course, so a trip to the library would not be necessary.

Many English classes require multiple books for the class that typically are hard to find, even in the Sims Memorial Library’s sizable stacks. Or, they may be available through the retail University Bookstore, but are not cheap. One way the library combats this is through Interlibrary Loan. Patrons can use the no-cost service to borrow books, journals and even electronic items from libraries all over the world when they need access to resources that are not held in the on-campus library. Many libraries in North America work together to facilitate interlibrary loan

At Sims Memorial, students, faculty and staff can request materials from other libraries, but it may take a while for the item to arrive. These patrons can also bring their SLU ID to check out books, calculators, Chromebooks and other types of equipment. Along with this, people can print documents and have a quiet place to study and work. 

Aside from the on-campus library, public libraries in the area are another option for students seeking to save a little dough on books. Assistant professor of English Dr. Gina Filo recommended trying local libraries as a life-long library user herself. 

“I read for pleasure as a way to learn about the world, to relax, to see yourself and to develop understanding and empathy for experiences unlike your own, but in more pragmatic terms libraries sometimes have books in their collections that are also course materials. Many libraries have great audio offerings, so depending on the type of text you might be able to get an audio copy in addition to the print edition if you prefer listening to reading visually. They also offer free internet, a quiet work environment and geographical flexibility, given that each library system has a number of local branches,” Filo explained. 

Nathan Heck, the branch manager of the Hammond Tangipahoa Library location, added the library has an extensive digital collection of e-books along with audiobooks available through apps. To find virtual resources, people can look under the 24-hour library section on their website

While he mentioned the library does not have a formal connection with the English department, they are happy to request needed material by students, since like Sims Memorial Library, the local library offers interlibrary loan.

“Students can use libraries for materials and recreation. With a library card, students have access to our physical and digital materials. We submit requests for materials we do not own and we’re happy to help you research a topic,” Heck said. 

Senior English major Sarah Wichterich found this aspect of libraries helpful recently. 

Wichterich shared, “I asked the Hammond library to get a particular book for me to check out to use for extra credit in my course. I think being able to request specific books when they don’t have it on hand is an amazing option.” 

The process for obtaining a library card is simple and free; according to Heck, it takes nothing more than a picture ID and a current Tangipahoa Parish address. This type of process is generally the same across the state. 

For non-resident students, they can receive a free student card by bringing in their school ID. Filo also said many libraries, including Hammond’s, offer an online card, allowing users to check out digital collections through their country or state. 

When it comes to advocating library use for students, Wichterich said, “I strongly encourage utilizing libraries as it not only strengthens the union of the community but it’s also cheaper. You’ll save yourself time and money if you check the library first, as it is free and easy to get a library card.” 

Similarly, Filo said libraries are a place where you can, at no cost, simultaneously engage the global community and the local community through the books and informational access they provide. 

Heck included that along with books, the Hammond Branch library hosts events for adults such as painting classes, book clubs, board game nights, career assistance and more. The schedule for these events can be found here.  

In addition to this, Heck wanted to emphasize librarians are here to help. 

“If you have a question, just ask. I promise we’re not the uptight, cardigan wearing librarians of fiction that only exist to shush the protagonist. Although we do wear a lot of cardigans. Helping a patron find the perfect resource, whether it be for research or leisure, is what we do and we’re thrilled to do it.”