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I've been teaching a few years now and the number of older editions of textbooks is beginning to pile up in my office. There is no policy at my university for disposal of old textbooks. These books were purchase with department funds and it troubles me to throw them away. They content is still relevant as the newer editions are not ground-breaking in material.

My questions are as follows...

  1. Please share how you deal with older editions of textbooks?
  2. Is there a policy at your institution (if so please share) or do you have a personal way of dealing with this problem (again please share)?
  • You might be interested: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/123244/… – Allure Jun 26 '19 at 10:12
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    I keep mine, very handy as some NEW versions drop perfectly good practice questions as part of the new version editing process... – Solar Mike Jun 26 '19 at 10:15
  • Are there any used bookstores (or even "thrift shops") in your area to which you could denote (or sell cheaply) the books? – Dave L Renfro Jun 26 '19 at 13:14
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    Point of information: Is the faculty/department not supplied with gratis desk-copy textbooks from the publisher? I thought that was customary; maybe I'm wrong. – Daniel R. Collins Jun 26 '19 at 14:47
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    @DaveLRenfro That option might be problematic for books purchased with department funds. – Anyon Jun 26 '19 at 15:27
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At my school the custom seems to be just leaving them in a stack in the hallway next to one's office door. Anyone walking by can peruse through them and take anything they want. At some point the janitorial stuff disposes of the stack as rubbish.

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    I've seen this custom too – user2768 Jun 26 '19 at 15:08
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    I've seen this too, mostly when a professor retires or moves office. Then there can be a respectable pile of books with a note saying "free", and often an email to students in the department (depending on the nature of the books, it might only be sent to graduate students). – Anyon Jun 26 '19 at 15:29
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At my institution the library of the university accepts donations of books, especially if they are in decent conditions. It seems like the best possible destination for your books since it seems that your institution paid for them, and in this way you'd be "giving them back".

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I've been teaching a few years now and the number of older editions of textbooks is beginning to pile up in my office. [The] content is still relevant as the newer editions are not ground-breaking in material.

Do you need the latest versions? Perhaps reduce the frequencies with which you acquire textbooks.

There is no policy at my university for disposal of old textbooks. These books were purchase with department funds and it troubles me to throw them away.

Is there a policy for the disposal of university/departmental assets? That might be worth checking. That said, it probably doesn't apply to low value assets such as textbooks.

Please share how you deal with older editions of textbooks?

  1. Donate them to the departmental or university library;
  2. Offer them to students, especially those that are struggling financially.
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    Eventually older editions are harder to get for students. So after a while the newer edition will be the one used by students. It is very helpful for me as a teacher to have the same edition as the students. So, yes I often need the newest edition. – Maarten Buis Jun 26 '19 at 10:06
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    @user2768 it is useful to have the same version, as students now seem to need precise direction to diagrams or topics ie page 44, diagram on top left. In the past one could suggest find the chapter on XXX and the diagram about YYY and they would... – Solar Mike Jun 26 '19 at 10:17
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    @user2768 you may well believe that, but what they demand and what faculty are then told to provide is something else... – Solar Mike Jun 26 '19 at 10:28
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    @user2768 Do you teach? Do you have a set course textbook? What happens when version 2 is no longer available and the publisher supplies version 3? You have to go with it... – Solar Mike Jun 26 '19 at 10:32
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    @user2768 libraries can also dump old versions... – Solar Mike Jun 26 '19 at 11:03

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