Associated Students offers plan for more access to textbooks at SMC

At the Associated Student Board meeting on Monday Oct. 3, A.S. Director of Instructional Support, Marco Vivero, proposed purchasing more textbooks as a student resource to be put on reserve at the Santa Monica College library. Vivero conceived of the idea when he was approached by a student who was unable to get a necessary textbook at the library.

This prompted Vivero to address the A.S. Board with a possible solution: more textbooks on reserve at the SMC library.

“The average student spends about $900 per year on textbooks, which is nearly 20 percent of tuition and fees at a four-year public institution.” Said Vivero. “Moreover, textbook prices are rising at about four times the rate of inflation.”

According to, with the rising cost of textbooks, more students are not able to afford supplies vital to their class success.

“The library has seen an increase in student requests for textbooks, and I believe this increase parallels the increase in textbook prices,” said the SMC Dean of Library Services Mona Martin. “Some students use the library’s copy of a textbook more at the beginning of the semester, until they acquire the funds to purchase their own copy, but other students rely on the library’s copy of the textbook for the entire semester.”

The A.S. is attempting to tackle this issue and is investigating the purchase of textbooks to be put on reserve in the Santa Monica College library. “This is generally a need because students need books,” said Vivero. “We at A.S. are looking for ideas to solve the problem.”

If this plan is approved, A.S. would ask the Santa Monica College District to contribute half the cost of the project.

Textbook purchase priority would be given to high-enrollment and high-demand classes with an emphasis to help students gain access to more expensive textbooks and general education courses.

Instructors would also be asked to refrain from changing their textbooks unless absolutely necessary.

Many instructors who receive an extra copy when purchasing will put it on reserve at the library.

But many textbook publishers are becoming more frugal with free copies and the prices continue to rise.

“If an instructor provides a copy of the textbook that is being used in his or her class, we happily add it to our collection,” said Martin. “Instructors have been very generous in providing copies of their textbooks to the library, but not every instructor has an extra copy.”

Some instructors do not provide a reserve copy of their textbooks, and this leaves students who are unable to afford the books little access to the material.

In the past, A.S. has purchased textbooks for student use in the library, but the program did not continue.

Ideally, this program would be open to all SMC students, including those who opted not to pay the $19.50 A.S. fee.

This issue may bring some concern to students who do pay all of their fees in exchange for the “benefits,” such as riding Santa Monica Big Blue Bus for free and discounted movie tickets.

This plan may also affect the SMC bookstore, whose business may change as a result.

Although it is in the beginning stages, A.S. plans to meet with the SMC Academic Support, the Bookstore, and the Library to create a plan that can be properly implemented and utilized by students in need of textbooks.

A.S. President Harrison Wills presented the beginnings of this plan at the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 4, where he was encouraged to look into previous efforts to alleviate this problem and return with a detailed proposal.