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I need a book for my teaching and/or research, but my university's library doesn't have this book. I don't think I'll use it enough to justify spending money out of my own pocket to own it. What other ways should I try? I searched Internet, there is no "free" (in whatever sense) PDF of it either.

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If you need it for your work then it should be justified to ask your department to purchase it and charge the cost on its budget. I did this with a book I needed a couple of months ago. – Miguel Nov 22 '14 at 10:41
up vote 20 down vote accepted

Ask your university librarian.
Usually universities libraries collaborate with each other. They can look whether the other universities have the book (I know this happens within Canadian universities)..

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This is is called inter-library loan and most academic libraries participate in an ILL network. – Ben Norris Nov 20 '12 at 2:04
Depending on the school, they may have access to both ILL and a more specialized network, like BorrowDirect ( – ARM Feb 5 '15 at 18:13

Usually I try to

  1. Aks to profs. at the university. Most are happy to lend them for a short time.

  2. Public libraries can be nice, but for some scientific literature I must admit they are not optimal

  3. A somewhat grey area is buying them used books online. A online interface to physical 'used books' shops is use often is Buying them a tenth of the price with shipping from Asia most of the time in comparison to the price at the university bookstore does feel like cheating but meh.

The last option could become illegal in the US depending of this court case, but for now it seems legit.

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Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, the court case you cite, was decided 6-3 in favour of Kirtsaeng: in summary, if you are the legal owner of a copy of a copyrighted work (e.g., a book or DVD) in the USA, you have the right to sell it, just as you do everywhere else in the world. Buying second-hand books online is in no way "grey". – David Richerby Nov 23 '14 at 12:03
@DavidRicherby The problem is that a few publisher don't sell used books but print new copies and sell those as used book, this is where the grey area comes from. – Zenon Nov 23 '14 at 20:43

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