Library Textbook Policy

Policy No.: 2



Last Revision:  August 2012

Responsible Executive:  Associate University Librarian, Collections

Title:  UBC Library Textbook Policy

Background & Purposes:

The UBC Library purchases materials which support the teaching and research interests of the University of British Columbia. It is the general policy of the University of British Columbia Library not to purchase copies of textbooks that students are expected to purchase for use in a particular course.   Graduate level materials may be added on a case by case basis if the materials support long term research or cover new emerging research areas.

Not all texts used for instructional purposes are textbooks.  Many scholarly monographs lend themselves to classroom use but they are not considered ‘textbooks’. The library collection is intended to provide research materials and other resources which supplement the learning experience taking place in the classroom.



A textbook is defined as “An edition of a book specifically intended for use of students who are enrolled in a course of study or preparing for an examination on a subject or in an academic discipline…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. Reit , Libraries Unlimited (Last updated November 19, 2007).

Governing Principles:

There are a number of reasons the UBC library does not purchase textbooks:

  • One copy will generally not suffice for an entire class and buying multiple copies for all classes that need them is prohibitively expensive.
  • The library has traditionally been resourced to purchase material for research and to supplement that used in the classroom, not basic curriculum material.  Purchase of textbooks would fall outside of the library’s traditional mission and beyond our current level of funding.


Exceptions to this policy will be considered on an individual basis by the appropriate subject librarian.  Possible exceptions include:

  • A faculty member may make a specific request and is willing to acquire a copy for reserve
  • A faculty member may place his/her personal copy of a textbook on reserve.
  • A faculty member may request a textbook which he/she has written be purchased and placed on reserve.
  • Subject librarians may determine and purchase a textbook which significantly supports teaching/research interest of the University of British Columbia.