The South Puget Sound Community College Running Start has revised its book loan program in order to serve a larger percentage of low-income students.
The program’s purpose is to offset textbook prices in order to make college a viable option for those who would not be able to afford it previously. Individuals who qualify for free or reduced lunches at their high school can apply for the book loan program ran by Nathan Levans, the Running Start coordinator.
“The two biggest barriers that we have identified are the cost of textbooks and transportation.” said Levans, when asked about problems low-income Running Start students face.
The transportation challenges are minimized by the free bus pass students can get with their SID card, but textbook costs remained an issue.
Previously, the book loan was a first-come-first-served program. This lead to only a few people getting the books they needed, since the budget would run out before the end of the list.
Collected data reflects this. Last year, 80 Running Start students were eligible for the program and textbooks were loaned to only 12 students. This year there were 98 students who were eligible and 37 applied for the program. However, in all, 46 students received books as nine students who applied late or didn’t qualify for the program were still able to have their needs met.
In previous years students would get vouchers and go to the bookstore to get their books. This created a sense of ownership, so few books were returned. Now that process has changed. This year students are held accountable for the books they are loaned by signing agreements to return the books after finals week.
The library system allows for the wealth to be spread over the entire book loan list. Levans is able to go through and look at the needs of the entire applicant population and buy books that will be useful for the majority of the students. After every applicant is loaned one book, Levans can go back over his list and loan more books until his textbook library is used up. This new system allows for 85% of the students book needs to be met. With the new system, Levans is hoping for an increase in demand that is matched by an increase in resources donated.
In Levans’s office there is an entire bookshelf of books that were not needed by the applicants this quarter. These books could still be loaned to another student even if they do not meet the book loan criteria. “There is no sense of them sitting on my bookshelf all quarter,” said Levans, “I know someone can be using these.”
Correction November 7, 2014: The headline of the printed version of this article incorrectly refers to the program as a book exchange. The program is a book loan program since no books are being exchanged, they are loaned by a signed agreement.