Student pleas prompt early book list release

Beginning next semester, Geneseo, incited by student persistence for public availability of textbook information, will release the long-awaited book list in the form of a comprehensive and centralized Web site.

"For years, students have come to me to have access to a book list for classes," said provost Katherine Conway-Turner. "I'm confident that what we have out there is going to be a good product for our students and our faculty."

The Web site, books.geneseo.edu, is still currently under development, but according to the site's designer Paul Jackson, Computing and Information Technology assistant director for Information Systems, faculty members can enter the textbooks for their spring 2009 classes on Oct. 15. That information will then be available for students on Dec. 1 but is subject to change until Dec. 15.

"It will be a learning experience this semester," said Jackson.

Jackson and Conway-Turner both acknowledged that the project will have kinks to work out, but stressed that they look forward to feedback. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the Web site with Conway-Turner on Nov. 5 at 6:15 p.m. in the College Union Hunt Room at the Student Association meeting.

The Web site's developers have already used suggestions from faculty members. One professor proposed a "no text required" feature and another asked for a mechanism to let students enrolled in courses know if any changes are made to the book list during the 15-day period in December. Both of the ideas have been incorporated in the site.

The application will work with the MyCourses Web site to automatically display each student's courses and books upon login. Students will also be able to view required texts for classes they are not enrolled in. In addition, the Web site will include a "book release schedule" which will display dates for when students can access information.

According to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor Web site, edlabor.house.gov, the push toward information accessibility is nationwide. The Higher Education Opportunity Act, which seeks to "give students detailed information on the textbooks their courses require, so that students can shop around for the best deal possible," was passed by the House of Representatives on July 31 and signed into law on Aug. 14. According to Conway-Turner, Geneseo began the book list project before the HEOA became a factor.

Conway-Turner said that the college has not released a list sooner because they wanted to do it the right way - by ensuring the satisfaction of students, faculty and even the vendor, Sundance Books.

"We wanted to ease the process of the vendor receiving the information," she said, still noting the importance that students be given the option to purchase their books elsewhere.

"In some aspects I think it's going to be a good thing," said Jim Matson, Sundance Books Textbook Outlet manager. "I think it will affect sales in some ways, but I don't know how it's going to go."

"I think it's really cool," said junior Elise Kroll. "Having a book list available to students gives them the opportunity to save money on books."

"My experience with Sundance involves being part of a continuous cycle of students getting ripped off," said sophomore Laura Marrin. "I'm very excited that in the future, students won't be forced into shopping there by anything other than convenience."

Sociology professor Steve Derne said he was concerned about the increased possibility for students to buy books from other vendors.

"Sundance Bookstore plays an important role in ensuring the availability of proper textbooks books," he said. "As an instructor, I notice many problems arising from purchasing textbooks from online sellers." Derne was also concerned about the loss of a local bookstore he described as "good for the campus community."

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