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Textbook alternatives can save students lots of money

By Ian Gerig

OK, consider: 98 cups of Starbucks coffee, 59 gallons of gas, or one textbook?

This is what $126 can buy an average Chemeketa student in 2015.

If students purchased a textbook at the college Book Store at the start of the fall term, at best they can receive half their money back at the end of the term: $63.

“I feel like it’s a monopoly,” Jasmine Lauretta, a third-year transfer student, said. “The book companies are just going to keep making new editions that you’ll have to buy.”

But what if students could not only purchase their textbooks for less but also be able to recoup more of their losses at the end of the term?

What is thought to be a dream is actually reality.

The student Book Exchange is a free, student-ran service. It allows students to sell their used books to other students at a price that the owner sets.

The bottom line: Students can get more money back on their used books.

“I got about $70 for my religions textbook last year at the book exchange,” Riley Johnston, a second-year student, said. “The Book Store would’ve only given me $45 for it, so I’m really glad I read about it.”

Yesica Navarro, the head of Student Retention and College Life and a former Chemeketa student, remembers the Book Exchange from her college days and has helped expand the idea into the Chemeketa Lending Library, a service that rents out textbooks to students for free.

“We have a lot of students who have financial need, and our department is big on meeting the needs of our students,” she said. “If they don’t have a book, how can they be successful in school?

“So we started the Lending Library for our student leaders five years ago and then extended the service three years ago to the rest of the student body.”

The Lending Library completes about 400 transactions a term, which roughly translates to $50,400 per term saved by students.

For those keeping score, that’s enough to purchase two 2013 Dodge Ram pickups.

While the books are rented to students for free, a few requirements are necessary to use the service.

Navarro said that for the first three days of the term, priority is given to students who earned a 2.75 or better grade-point average for the last term completed.

“Then, after the third day, we offer it to all the students,” she said. “We want to see your GPA, your class schedule, a transcript, and we want you to have an education plan on file so that you know what your path is to graduate.”

While Navarro is pleased with the use that the Book Exchange and the Lending Library receive each term, she said that the staff members in her department are considering ideas to additionally promote the services in the coming years.

Lauretta offered a suggestion.

“I think they should hand out information about it,” she said. “If you send students an email, they would know more about it. It’s just the way the world works now.”

However the services are promoted in the future, Navarro wants students to remember that the college understands the financial burdens that students face.

She also said that while the services were meant to help alleviate that burden, they were not offered as handouts.

“Sometimes students go through hard times,” she said. “Instead of people seeing this as a hand down, see it as a hand up. Sometimes students need some support, and hopefully when they become the professionals they strive to be, they can give back to the community.”

More information on the Book Exchange and the Lending Library can be found in the Multicultural Center in Bldg. 2.

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