Textbook data available sooner

To comply with law, MIT will collect textbook information

To comply with a national law, MIT will make textbook information available before the pre-registration deadline in coming terms, according to a presentation delivered at April’s faculty meeting by Vice Chancellor Steven R. Lerman ’72.

Textbook information, including ISBN and retail price, will be available by through the online catalog on That information will be made available to the Coop bookstore at MIT, as well as to outside services like Coursepicker and Bookpicker, Lerman said.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires that by summer 2010, MIT and other federally-funded universities to increase the transparency of textbook information.

Lerman said that full compliance with the law will require the faculty to make available their textbook choices by the pre-registration deadline, rather than in a syllabus distributed on the first day of class in September.

In the event that a faculty member has genuinely not yet determined textbook selection for a course, Lerman said, the law permits a class to list its textbooks as “to be determined.”

Faculty will now find it easier to report their textbook choices. Instead of having to tell the Coop and the MIT Libraries separately, faculty will now fill out a single web form.

As of last month, the schedule called for pilot testing of the system during the month of May, with a production version complete by June 15.

In the past, students have sometimes had difficulty getting textbook information for courses without going to The Coop, which has given the Coop a sales advantage.