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Textbooks in the Library: Availability and Options

How the Library can and can't help with student textbooks.


Q: Does the Library have textbooks?
A: Sometimes

The Library does not buy every textbook being used at CSUF.  The Library’s mission is to support CSUF’s curriculum with supplemental  resources beyond textbooks, not be a warehouse for textbooks.  However, sometimes you can find your textbook-- either as a print book or e-book.  To check:
Search the library's catalog, OneSearch. You can type in the title, author, or ISBN #.  But review the displayed results carefully!  Textbooks often have varying titles or ISBN #s  Also, check the edition!  Your current textbook may be the 6th edition (2019), but the library's copy may only be the 2nd edition (2004).  That's a 15-year difference, and risky to study from. 
Check if your instructor put a copy on Reserve.  Some instructors put a copy of the textbook on "Reserve" in the library, for short-term (usually 3-hour) use.  Although this doesn't help for studying at home, it is at least an option.  At OneSearch, type your instructor's name and choose the "Course Reserves" option to see if your textbook is there.


Borrowing from other librariesPrint: If the Pollak Library does not have your textbook, other libraries might.  When searching the library's OneSearch catalog (advanced search: set to "All CSU"), you can see if your textbook is available at another CSU campus library.  If it is, you can borrow it directly from OneSearch, and it will be shipped here (for free) for you to pickup at the library's Circulation Desk.  However, keep in mind it is not always likely your request will be successful.  Other CSU libraries frequently put "local campus use only" restrictions on new textbooks.  Similarly, in the WorldCat catalog, you might see your textbook available at a non-CSU library (UC campus, private university, public library). You can try requesting it as an Interlibrary Loan request, but again, it is not always likely that it will be loaned, for the same reason ("local campus use only" restrictions for new textbooks).  There is also a cool browser extension—which you can add to Chrome or Firebox—that will show you all local public libraries that might have your textbook: laptop with free e-book on the screen

E-book: Public libraries often have huge collection of e-books, all free to read!  Find your hometown public library here and sign up.  However, e-books in public libraries are not usually academic textbooks.  So, you can search some sites (legal sites, not pirated download sites) that specialize in collecting e-textbooks, listed here.  


The CSUF Titan Shops bookstore has a “Lowest Price Guarantee”: shop online sites for the lowest price…
then show that price to the bookstore and they’ll match it, PLUS give you 25% of the difference. Details are here: 


The CSUF Titan Shops bookstore offers textbook rentals on many textbooks. Renting is significantly cheaper than buying, especially if you don’t plan to keep the textbook for future reference. Details are here  If the CSUF bookstore doesn’t have your textbook for rent, there are many textbook rental vendors online:Books for rent


The CSUF Titan Shops bookstore offers many textbooks as e-books.  E-books are cheaper than printed textbooks.  You can see if the bookstore sells your textbook as an e-book here:  If they don’t have your book as an e-book, the vendors below sell e-book textbooks. Warning: check the terms of e-books carefully before purchasing; many cannot be returned/refunded.

Ÿ hands holding e-book reader



There are a growing number of online sites to buy textbooks.  The following sites below are known to be legitimate search sites.  When buying online, keep in mind hidden costs.  You may find a low price, but shipping & processing costs might add between $5-$20 more.  Also, check their return policy; will they pre-pay the return-postage if they send you the wrong edition?  If not, you’re stuck with paying. This is another reason to consider the Titan Shops Lowest Price Guarantee. - draws from its own inventory, plus 1000’s of affiliates.  Now rents books too.Online textbooks - likewise; its own inventory & affiliates.  Now rents books too. - one of the largest online textbook sites; rent/buy/sell textbooks - also large; buy/sell/rent textbooks. Free shipping on orders over $25 - buy, sell, or rent textbooks. Free shipping on orders over $50 - same; serves as a broker; brings you 1000’s of sellers at once - same; serves as a broker; brings you 1000’s of sellers at once - same; serves as a broker; brings you 1000’s of sellers at once - same; serves as a broker; brings you 1000’s of sellers at once - same; one of the largest online bookstores - same; one of the largest online bookstores - claims to only sell books in-stock (no delays/false promises) -  claims to offer real-time price comparisons - another buy/sell/rent site - classifieds (at your own risk)


All non-CSUF sites listed in this guide are for informational purpose only.  CSUF & the Pollak Library do not endorse or affiliate with any of these sites.
© CSUF  August 2021   Compiled by Librarians Rob Sage & John Hickok 

General Purpose Guide