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The H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library

Textbook Acquisition Policy

Purpose of policy

This policy outlines the standards and procedures that the Penn State Law H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library (“Law Library”) follows regarding textbook acquisitions.

Acquisition of textbooks

This policy outlines the standards and procedures that the Penn State Law H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Law Library (“Law Library”) follows regarding textbook acquisitions.

It is the policy of the Law Library not to purchase copies of textbooks.  A textbook is defined as:

“An edition of a book specifically intended for the use of students who are enrolled in a course of study or preparing for an examination on a subject or in an academic discipline, as distinct from the trade edition of the same title, sometimes published in conjunction with a workbook, lab manual, and/or teacher's manual.” ODLIS —Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science by Joan M. Reitz, Libraries Unlimited (last updated January 10, 2013)

This policy does not apply to supplemental reading materials, most of which would ordinarily be acquired for the collection as a matter of course, or to textbooks received as gifts, which are added to the Law Library collection at the discretion of the Law Library faculty and staff.

The Law Library does not acquire textbooks for the following reasons:

  • One or two copies of a textbook will generally not suffice for an entire class.
  • Buying multiple copies for all classes that need them is prohibitively expensive. Because textbooks are often in high demand, they go missing and are very expensive to replace.
  • The Law Library has traditionally been resourced to purchase material for research efforts and to supplement materials used in the classroom, not basic curriculum material.  Purchase of textbooks would fall outside of the Law Library’s traditional mission and beyond our current level of funding.

Interlibrary loan and textbooks

Textbooks should not be requested from other libraries through interlibrary loan services. In addition to the reasons mentioned above:

  • Textbooks may not be available for loan from other libraries and the request may go unfilled.
  • Students often need textbooks for longer than most interlibrary loan periods allow.
  • Books or materials borrowed from any Penn State library or any other library, including textbooks, may not be marked up in any way. If a student borrows a book or other material, including a textbook, and it is returned with mark-up, the student will be charged to replace the item.

Course Reserves

If a specific textbook is needed for a particular course, a faculty member may choose to place a personal or department copy of a textbook in course reserves. The textbook will be returned to the faculty member at the conclusion of the course. In lieu of the entire textbook, the faculty member may put a copy of only one chapter on reserve. Law Library staff can assist with obtaining any copyright clearance needed. It should be noted that the course reserve service aims to provide supplementary materials for instruction and education, not basic texts required for the entire length of the class.

Review copies

Faculty needing textbooks for review or for other uses by department staff may request review copies directly from the publisher or acquire the needed materials with non-Law Library departmental funds.

Reference to Affiliated Policy

This policy supplements the Law Library Collection Development Policy. It is meant to be used in conjunction with that policy in order to provide further information as to our specific collection development policy relating to textbook acquisition.