Does the library have textbooks?

Mason Libraries’ TextSelect program provides required textbooks for only selected required classes and materials are available on a 2-hour reserve.

As a general rule, Mason students are responsible for their textbook purchases which may be accomplished through the Mason Bookstore.  However, before you purchase, if you are interested in availability to borrow from the library, you can:

  1. Search the catalog.
    • Please note the call number, the actual library (there are five!) and whether it is on reserve
    • Some books used for classes are temporarily placed on Reserve, or may be in a Reference Collection.
    • To help address the cost of required textbooks, the University Libraries does purchase selected textbooks (TextSelect) that meet certain criteria. See information about TextSelect and suggest a textbook for purchase
  2. Search the e-book collections.
  3. Search the Course Reserves system.
    • A professor may have placed a copy on Reserve. Items on Reserve may be used for a limited period of time -- depending on the professor's instructions -- to allow you to read a chapter, take notes, etc.
    • Items on reserve can also be found by searching the Mason Libraries catalog.

Hints & Tips

These are some simple tips to obtain your textbooks effectively and efficiently...

  1. Library books...for all to share
    Books borrowed from the library are guaranteed for 4 week check out period (at a minimum) -- after which they can be recalled for another borrower to use. It is probable you're not the only one trying to get a copy of the book from the Library.
  2. Plan ahead
    Why? Maybe a book isn't needed until halfway through the semester, and you can afford to wait a bit on buying that particular book. Maybe the online service that has your book is down. Maybe there is no on-line vendor with your book.
  3. Check Your Syllabus!
    Why? Sometimes you really don't need the whole book, may be just a chapter or a portion of the book.
  4. Always keep track of your books
    Why? Because bad things happen. You might lose your textbook, it might get stolen, or any number of unfortunate events.
  5. Search by ISBN
    Why? The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the code for that specific book you need. Newer/older editions usually have different content, and the specific book your class requires may have something you need particularly for that class. Don't know the ISBN? Contact your professor!

Other Options

Textbook Rentals/Online Textbooks

These are newer options for our students who wish to get their textbooks for a reduced price.

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you read the full FAQ and Agreement before renting any textbooks or buying electronic copies.

Things to consider for Online Textbooks...

  • If the vendor requires a separate program (ie, not web browser based viewing) to actually get to your books
  • If access is perpetual (for all time!) or only for the semester (temporary access)

Things to consider for Rented Textbooks...

  • If the vendor has a specific return-by date and what the penalties might be
  • If the vendor has specific criteria by which they accept the book back (no damage, certain paperwork, etc)


A new option for Mason students are eTextbooks, available through the Campus Bookstore Website.

These are potentially money and back saving options for many students, but there are important elements to know!

  1. You can only use them on full computers. Currently, you cannot use iPads or other tablets, other mobile devices or smartphones, to view the material. 
  2. You can only use them on up to two (2) computers. This means 'sharing' the material is ill-advised.
  3. There are no refunds once you have downloaded the textbook, or used the access code, even if you end up switching courses.
  4. Printing out parts of the textbook is restricted with a finite limit on how much you can reproduce from the eTextbook. Only print out parts of the book you explicitly need for other purposes.
  5. Access to the material is limited to a strict license duration. iYou would have to re-rent the same material for another semester if you needed it longer. If you may need the material beyond the very specific dates listed in the license, buy the book.


From http://infoguides.gmu.edu/textbooks by Chris Magee