Tell your LUCC representative to support legislation that seeks to compile an online book list.Much has been written and little has been done about the noncompetitive textbook purchasing situation Lawrentians find themselves faced with. We needn’t describe the problem in too much detail since all community members, faculty and students especially, have experienced the problem firsthand.
The dilemma of online purchasing is among the most frustrating stemming from the larger problem: since only Conkey’s collects ISBN numbers for each course’s textbooks, students must choose to 1) buy materials from Conkey’s 2) inundate professors with requests tenth week of the term prior or 3) risk going bookless for the first week or two of classes. In this dilemma, the
Conkey’s monopoly is further solidified, unremedied even by the opportunities of the internet age.
To break the Conkey’s monopoly and allow for efficient, organized, timely online textbook purchasing, we cannot turn to Conkey’s. Conkey’s is a business interested in making money, as it should be expected to be. Sadly, we cannot look to LU administrators, either. Compiling a list of ISBN numbers falls under no specific jurisdiction, and there are likely community-relations concerns in jeopardizing a sure source of business for a neighbor to the university who has, in a significant sense, linked its
That leaves the students. Many student organizations have organized textbook exchanges for decades (in the past couple of years, the Yuais and Lambda Sigma have each advertised events of this variety). These have been good starts, but no exchange can be expected to mobilize the student body in any cohesive sense, let alone stay one step ahead of the rough-and-tumble world of university publishing, wherein enterprising firms “revise” $100+ textbooks, releasing new editions sometimes at an annual clip.
One organization could set such a list up, though, and that’s LUCC. Such a move would be an important step in asserting the relevancy and efficacy of what has been of late a beleaguered and oft-affronted organization.
LUCC is armed with the power to allot our money, and this would be an effective and-once initial logistics and proposals were first reviewed-tremendously viable program for the whole of the student body, for the humanities, music, and science students alike.
Several web services more than happily assist in storing ISBN information in a database, linking to multiple, competitively priced outlets, and making it easy for student organizations to work with professors to keep such lists current. The only difficultly then would be coordinating with professors.
Conkey’s, though, manages to coordinate with professors just fine. Creating a pre-term clearinghouse for ISBN information, while perhaps requiring that syllabi be firmed up a bit sooner, would centralize requests to a professor. LUCC organizers ought to work with the Dean of the Faculty’s office to fully understand how the professor-Conkey’s relationship plays out, and then emulate that. Perhaps professors would merely “cc” letters or emails to Conkey’s to a designated LUCC contact.
What do the professors get, besides students who grumble a bit less? Professors can then expect students to, once classes are chosen, be prepared with course materials first week, ready to jump into the exciting business of teaching and learning.
Students ought to be sick of the financial games and implicit corporate back-scratching that make first and second week such headaches for students and faculty alike.
Some in LUCC have bantered about ideas about solving the problems, but putting legislation and programs in place, and soon, would be a crucial first step for asserting LUCC’s relevancy for solving the problems of students and serving as our legislative voice.