By Lauren Cabral
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS - The Lampasas Public Library will buy a set of textbooks for courses being offered in the spring 2011 semester by the Lampasas County Higher Education Center.
Administrators said students will be able to read the textbooks in the library, saving themselves the cost of expensive textbooks.
"We're thrilled," said Amy McDaniel, administrative assistant at the higher education center. "It's a really generous gift, and it will help students."
Shanda Serbia, Lampasas Public Library director, said more than $800 was spent on the textbooks. Funding for the project came from the city and the Library Advisory Board.
"I'm just really glad that we can do this," Serbia said. "This wasn't really budgeted for, but it's important enough that we made it happen."
One copy of each of the books required for courses at the Lampasas County Higher Education Center will be available as reference materials before classes begin Jan. 10. They will not be available for checkout to ensure that all students have access to them.
Serbia said the library considered the higher education center an important service to the city and wanted to help advance its mission.
"I think it's a really good service for area students. We felt like this was a good way to help support what they're trying to do," she said.
Lampasas is the only public library in the area to purchase a set of textbooks for courses offered through a college.
Barbara Merlo, director of marketing and outreach at Central Texas College, said the reason other public libraries in the region have not taken similar actions is likely due to the large number of courses CTC offers.
"It would be really expensive, and it would be hundreds of classes," she said, noting classes and books needed for them change frequently.
Merlo said CTC does have a lending library that allows students in career and technical classes who meet economic guidelines to request and check out books.
However, the program is funded by a grant and will be available until money runs out.
Texas A&M University-Central Texas does not have textbooks in its library either, though it does offer grade school textbooks used in its teaching curriculum.
"I do know that several of the A&M universities do have textbook programs that they put textbooks on reserve for students at the library," said Mark Harris, director of library services. The program is free for students. Harris said he has written a proposal to bring a similar program to TAMU-CT.
"That's what I would like to implement here, but we just haven't gotten the funding for it yet," he said.
Copperas Cove Public Library Director Margaret Handrow said the library does not purchase textbooks, and it is against many libraries' policies to do so.
"Most libraries in the country don't buy textbooks, including universities," she said. "They'd probably come back with answers written in them, if they came back at all."
Handrow said the cost of textbooks and the fact that they are frequently updated are two reasons why libraries don't buy textbooks.
"Each year, textbooks have to be approved and updated, so keeping up with the latest textbook that's being offered, that can be a nightmare within itself," she said.
Many textbooks have been donated to the Killeen Public Library, said Director of Library Services Deanna Frazee, but the library has never purchased textbooks for its collection.
She said there are many supporting documents and reference books in the library's collection that students use.
"Ours is very much geared to be supplementary as far as what we purchase," Frazee said.
There is an interlibrary loan service available for students; the library can request books from all over the world that then will be shipped to Killeen, she added. The student pays the postage fee and can then check out the book.
Lisa Youngblood, library director of Harker Heights Public Library, said it has very few textbooks.
"Right now, we don't really have a way to get all the coursework from a college to get everything individually," she said.
Contact Lauren Cabral at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.