An Undergraduate Student Government initiative aims to decrease textbook costs for students.
Friday, April 12, 2024

A new initiative by University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government is providing free textbooks for students in some classes, with hopes to grow the program.

“The textbook drive is part of a bigger effort to make textbooks more affordable, which then helps make college more affordable,” says Amira Qidwai, a second-year student and USG director of academic affairs. “Textbooks are another big purchase on top of what students already are paying to go to college, especially out-of-state students. We feel this is a valuable investment.”

Donate your textbooks this finals week

During finals week, May 6—10, you can donate your textbooks in one of 12 USG textbook donation boxes. Boxes will be located at:

  • Front desks of Burge, Catlett, Currier, Daum, Hillcrest, Mayflower, Petersen, Rienow, and Slater residence halls
  • Front desk of the Main Library
  • Front desk at the Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence
  • Iowa Memorial Union welcome center

The textbook drive is part of USG’s ongoing effort to ease textbook costs for students. In spring 2023, USG members amassed a collection of about 300 textbooks to then provide the books to other undergraduate students free of charge.

Over the course of the 2023-24 academic year, USG has given 146 textbooks to students in a variety of classes. This effort equaled about $5,000 to $10,000 in textbook savings for students, depending on if students would have rented their books or purchased them new or used.

The program also does not require funding beyond the supplies used to advertise the service to students and catalog donations.

In addition to books collected last academic year, USG members put out about 20 donation boxes across campus during finals week of the fall 2023 semester. Students donated in the boxes about 50 textbooks, which were catalogued by USG over winter break.

Before the start of each semester, students can look through a spreadsheet of textbooks listed on the USG website and request books, which are catalogued so students know if a textbook matches the correct edition needed for a class. Books can then be picked up at the USG office in the Iowa Memorial Union. Along with their textbook, every student receives a bookmark containing information about donating the books back for future students.

Textbook donation boxes will make another appearance across campus during finals week, May 6 –10, to continue the drive into the next academic year.

The textbook drive has also been incorporated into USG bylaws to continue after current USG members have completed their terms.

“This will be a continuous responsibility for people in my position at USG going forward,” Qidwai says. “Whoever comes next will have all the tools they need and a record of all the books.”

Qidwai says USG plans to start the request period for textbooks before the 2024-25 school year begins and make a bigger push for donations using social media and digital signs across campus. 

“We’re still looking to expand donations,” she says. “We have a very diverse collection of books on so many topics, but I would like to have more books for general education classes that a larger number of students take. The drive is something we’ve been seeing more people talk about and tell their friends about it. It’s gotten a lot of positive feedback.”