UWP textbook rental saves students megabucks

November 26, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE - A typical college student pays for tuition, housing and food. There may be enough money left over to put gas in the car and maybe buy a sub or pizza once in a while.

But there's something else very important to worry about: textbooks. Without them, there's not much point in going to class. So, where's the money supposed to come from?

For University of Wisconsin-Platteville students, the textbook worry is a no-brainer.

Here's how it works: All currently registered undergraduate and graduate students, including those enrolled in continuing education, may use books from the Textbook Center. The center, located in the lower level of Doudna Hall, is supported entirely by student fees, which are included in the cost of tuition.

About 40,000 books valued at $1.5 million or more are handed out each semester, said Mary Larson, UWP's Textbook Center director and manager.

But the books must be returned at the end of the semester in good condition. In the event of a course drop, textbooks must be returned immediately.

If students do not return their textbooks, they are billed for the full price, said Larson. "That can go as high as $700," she said.

Larson offers advice to keep damage charges low or non-existent: "Don't put water bottles or a banana in your backpack with books," she said. The most common damage is from water, she added.

Pets can wreak havoc on books as well. "Dogs and puppies chew books," said Larson. "Once we had book pages nibbled by a hamster."

Larson ably manages UWP Textbook Center and sets the pace for college textbook rental. "I get calls from other universities on how to set up a program, or asking other questions."

UWP has a long and venerable history of textbook rental, offering the service first in 1866 when the campus underwent a name change from the Platteville Academy to the State Normal School. Textbooks were furnished to students for $1 to $1.50 per term.

Since 1990, UWP has offered textbook rental on a regular basis, and graduate student textbook rental since the mid-1990s.

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