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PCC project looks to cut cost of textbooks for students

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A test program to reuse college textbooks could save Portland Community College students a lot of money and help the environment.

PCC reference librarian Tony Greiner is leading the green textbook project at Cascade.

Beginning fall term (Monday, Sept. 20), the PCC Cascade Campus Library will have on reserve at least one copy of every required text being used on the campus (705 N. Killingsworth St.). Thanks to this trial project, textbooks will be on a two-hour checkout for all students. The project was made possible thanks to $25,000 from the campus Green Initiative Fund (made up of student fees and directed by students), which is an effort to make PCC more environmentally sustainable, and a total of $5,000 more by Cascade Campus President Algie Gatewood and Dean of Instruction Scott Huff.

“The idea is that, by having a copy of all required books on reserve, some students may choose to not purchase a textbook, and instead rely on the library copy to do their homework,” said Tony Greiner, reference librarian at Cascade who is spearheading the trial program. “A textbook normally has a life of about three years before a new edition comes out, and we teach four terms a year. So even if only one student per term decides to use the library copy instead of purchasing one, at the end of three years we will have reduced the amount of books printed, shipped and then recycled in a landfill by a factor of 12.”

Greiner said that another benefit of this initiative is having these books available will mean that students who cannot afford their textbooks (or who have not received their financial aid checks at the start of the term) will be able to do their homework assignments and readings while waiting for their financial situation to improve.

Greiner shows a Cascade Campus student one of the books that will be used in the new project.

“While one copy of the texts will not meet all the possible demand, the project should be an aid to student success and retention,” he said.

If the trial proves successful, Greiner said he and the committee will look for a permanent funding source. Greiner said the per-term cost of the program would drop considerably because it will need to replace the texts only for those courses that have changed books.

“At the end of the fall term, and again at the end of the academic year, this project will be evaluated to see if it should be expanded, modified or discarded,” Greiner said.

To learn more about the college’s sustainability efforts, visit: http://www.pcc.edu/about/sustainability/

To learn more about the PCC Library, visit: http://www.pcc.edu/library/

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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