Vol 12, Issue 5
This semester I could not afford my textbooks. There were only two of them as well! Criminal Law and Procedure came in at $124.95 new (members save $8.75!), while Corporations could be fetched for a nifty $165.00 – if I wanted the corporations legislation bundle (because who doesn’t) it would set me back $221.39. That’s a new textbook total of $189.95 on the lower end and a whopping $346.34 as a Co-op member for the higher. Trying to find these books in the library high use section has been a nightmare – students have an understandable tendency to borrow them for months at a time.
Now, I’m lucky enough that the reason I could not afford textbooks is because I spent all my reserves on going to Geneva for the fantastic Institutions of International Law course (plug). My financial instability is the result of my first-world adventures and not because I am from disadvantaged life circumstances. I do not regret my decision in the slightest, but it is worth noting I had a decision to make. I could go overseas or I could afford to have a book dedicated to director’s duties. I feel, in the grand scheme of things, I chose correctly. Others are not so lucky. From my ivory tower I can whine all I want about the two textbooks I couldn’t afford, or I could look back in fond memory on the travels I did, and yet further back on the 20 odd textbooks I already own. Many students simply cannot imagine even having that choice.
I have recently been elected as an Editor for the Melbourne Journal of International Law. One of the platforms I ran on with my two ticket compatriots was the creation of a practical library for MJIL Members. The library would consist of textbooks lent to the Journal by Members who were further along in their degree, to be borrowed by other Members. The idea being that eventually, students need not all purchase books but can instead rely on the Journal to catch them when their semester ends up a financial pickle. We are just starting to populate the library; we have some 20 odd textbooks from Members that will help coming MJILites (that’s what we call ourselves) through future semesters. The library is primarily based on a trust system, and will consist of the following rules:
There will be a book sign-out sheet for books removed from our office, and a numbering system to better organise the books. It’s not a perfect system. Textbooks can get outdated very quickly, and demand for textbooks is high. That said, it’s something we hope to work out over the coming year so that our Members can feel that tiny bit more secure.
My appeal is this: set something similar up in your own student association. It requires a bit of management, trust and effort but ultimately it improves the wellbeing of your society. It might stop absurd textbook prices weighing on your Members minds or help them avoid the financial burden of a somewhat irrelevant textbook.
There are definitely other uses for your old textbooks. You can sell them, donate them to the fantastic LSS textbook donation program or use them for kindling. There are also cheaper ways to find textbooks if you’re looking for something more permanent – the LSS Book Fairy program, purchasing second hand books or sneaking online to download an e-copy (the last of which is by no means condoned by myself or MJIL).
Textbook or otherwise, I have felt since the early days of my time at MLS that my wellbeing support is in the hands of the student body and not through MLS programs. If you are fortunate enough that you have textbooks to spare, consider establishing a little student library of your own – you are more than welcome to use the above format.
Eliah Castiello is a second-year JD student and one of the editors of MJIL, a far less reputable publication than De Minimis
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