As a general policy, MSU Library does not purchase textbooks for the collection. The Library may acquire textbooks selectively for the collection if they have long-term research, study, or archival value.

What is a textbook?

Textbooks are materials that generally are designed to be used by students for introductory, intermediate and advanced courses of study; include discussion topics, problems and study questions at the end of individual chapters; and may be published in subsequent editions.

MSU Library also uses a third-party bibliographic service, GOBI Library Solutions, to identify materials classified as textbooks.

Why doesn’t MSU Library generally purchase textbooks?

Montana State University Library purchases materials that support the teaching and research mission of Montana State University. We work with our librarians, faculty, researchers, students, and community members to build collections that matter to our patrons. All purchasing decisions are informed by our collection development policy, budget, and physical space constraints.

Textbooks present challenges to library collection development:

  • Textbooks are frequently updated with new editions.
  • Textbooks are designed for one-copy per student, whereas it is generally our policy to maintain a single copy of resources.
  • The Library’s budget and physical space constraints make it impossible to maintain a comprehensive collection of materials required for all courses.

Are there exceptions to this policy?

The Library may acquire textbooks selectively for the collection if they have long-term research, study, or archival value. Sometimes texts required for a course may already be part of the library’s collection because they meet the criteria of the Library’s general collection development policy, not because they are required for specific courses. Examples of textbooks that may be added to our collections include but are not limited to:

  • Textbooks authored by MSU faculty, housed in Special Collections, University Publications
  • Graduate-level textbooks with significant research and study value
  • MSU faculty may donate a single copy of a textbook they have purchased themselves to be placed on Reserve

Occasionally, MSU Library receives requests to acquire online textbooks for students with specific accessibility requirements. In such cases, the Library will suggest the student submit their textbook request directly to the Office of Disability Services. If the Office of Disability Services is unable to obtain online access to a textbook, the Library will work with them to facilitate access when possible.

Why can’t I request a current semester textbook through Interlibrary Loan?

MSU Library does not borrow required class textbooks via Interlibrary Loan or Resource Sharing. Your textbooks are designed to give you the basic framework for your classes, while the library's collections and services provide supplementary materials to augment your textbook. The MSU Library provides in-depth research assistance and information for your class, lab, studio, and field work. Additionally:

  • Most of our partner libraries do not lend textbooks.
  • Most libraries do not purchase textbooks.
  • The very few libraries that do have textbook collections reserve them for their campus use only.
  • Interlibrary loans are typically not for an entire term.
  • Failure to return items when due will result in fines, suspension of borrowing privileges, blocked registration, and may jeopardize future borrowing by the MSU library from that lending library for any MSU student.