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Library Resources & Services

For Students - Accessing Textbooks

If you are looking for a textbook, please know that our Reserves Room is closed, but you can:


  • Reach out to your professor first - find out if they have already figured a way to get you the required readings.





Unfortunately, the library often does NOT have an online version of textbooks (though we have many other kinds of online books). But you can do a quick search on OneSearch to check.

NYPL logo

Queens public library logoBrooklyn Public Library logo








The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library might have an ebook.

They also might have a book that you can pick up through their "grab-and-go" service (see the libraries' websites for more information on how to pick up a book there.) But please note : they are NOT likely to have many college textbooks, but they may have other kinds of books (like novels or non-fiction books written for the general public.)

You can sign up for a free account with all three of the public library systems - you do not have to live in any particular borough to belong to that library. Click here for more info on the New York Public LibraryBrooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library.

Internet Archive logoThe Internet Archive might have an ebook, and (new for spring 2021) you can now borrow online versions of some of Hostos Library books from them.

You can also search their collection of ebooks directly here. 

CLICK HERE for more info on using Internet Archive.



Buy or rent


BE CAREFUL! There are many websites out there claiming to sell or rent textbooks cheaply; some are misleading, poorly organized, or have terrible customer reviews.


In fall 2020, we looked at 52 different websites and chose the best sites we could find, listed below.


We can't promise that you will have a good experience with any specific business, so please do your research before you take a chance on a too-good-to-be-true price


Sites like Trust Pilot, Reseller Ratings, and Sitejabber are places to find customers' reviews. Of course, please remember that some people are more likely to write a review when they have a complaint, and some reviews might be false ones, either by a company to promote their own site or to criticize a competitor’s. Still, if there are many reviews and you can see patterns in the kinds of good or bad things described, that can give you a rough idea of the website’s reputation.


(Option 1) Direct sellers/lenders :

companies that sell or rent books directly to you

Hostos bookstore logo Akademos (Hostos Bookstore) sells new and used books through the mail and rents ebooks. (Except for their “marketplace”, which is a platform, see below.) 
Booksrun logo Booksrun sells and rents used books through the mail and rents ebooks (please note that this site adds items to your cart if you click on them for more information – so look very closely at your cart before you hit “pay”).
Textbook solutions logo Textbook Solutions rents used books through the mail. 
ecampus logo Ecampus sells used and new books and rents physical books (they rent ebooks by using Vital Source). They also have a “marketplace” platform (see below)
Vital source logo Vital Source rents and sells ebooks that you read on your computer or device.
Red Shelf logo RedShelf rents and sells ebooks that you read on your computer or device.

(Option 2) Platforms:

websites where many different sellers come to sell

Platforms are sites like ebay – it’s not ebay itself selling to you, but an independent seller who uses ebay as a place to list their items. These sellers could be anyone with an account and a username.


Because sellers could be anyone, the individual seller's reputation matters a lot. Platforms that show you actual reviews give you better information than just showing 1-5 stars. 

Tip: if the username sounds like it's an actual bookstore, it might be (local stores also sell things online!) So you might be able to go directly to the bookstore’s website--if they show contact info like a phone number and email, it may be easier to reach them if there's a problem.

Valore books logo Valorebooks is well organized, has a good reputation, and is very good about showing you seller reviews (look under "Item Details" to see the "provider"), but it may not have as many textbooks as the others below.
alibris logo Alibris has a lot of textbooks, but shows less information about their sellers, so really look to see who is selling you the book.
ecampus logo Ecampus has a marketplace platform in addition to selling books directly. They have a lot of textbooks, but they do not explain their 1-5 star ratings for sellers or allow you to see actual feedback.
hostos bookstore logo Hostos Bookstore (run by the company Akademos, also called also has a “marketplace” option for some books that is a platform. They show only a 1-5 star system that they do not explain; you can see reviews for some sellers but not others, for no apparent reason.
(Option 3): Price comparison websites

There are a lot of websites that do not sell books directly, but allow you to compare prices. They are not hard to set up and allow their owners to profit (they get money when people click on links through their site) without having to do work like actually sending or receiving books.

These websites are not all the same quality - some say they put the best prices up top, but a closer look shows that this is not true. Some are "affiliates" of Amazon, so Amazon results will always be up top no matter what. Some may be slow or confusing in how they display choices. 

textbook rentals logo is a good price comparison website (there are many other sites with similar names). They seem to be better for physical books, used and new, than for ebooks.

Publishers' websites

These are only helpful for the textbooks that these companies publish themselves, but sometimes they have a good price.


For Faculty - Reserves Scanning

Faculty! If you have required textbook readings, please let us know if you'd like your readings made available for free for your students--please see the form below to do so. 

As a courtesy, the Reserves unit is providing scanned copies of required textbook readings to teaching faculty to post to Blackboard. Doing so will enable your students to access your required readings for free, while the library's physical reserves are closed.

To request scanning, please submit the Reserve Textbook Scanning Request Form.   Please allow up to five (5) days for processing.  All submissions must comply with copyright law and fair use principles. 

  • Please fill out the form properly. All required fields must be completed.
  • Please enter the ISBN number with digits only, no dashes (-). [i.e., 13 digits 9781524763169 or 10 digits 1524763160]
  • Please list either chapter numbers or page numbers.   [i.e., chapters 2,5,9, and 10 OR  p.47 or pp.12-34]
  • Please remember that the syllabus file size is a maximum of 10MB. If the PDF version is too large, please try MS Word.
  • Please submit the syllabus for the current term. Please do not submit the fall 2020 syllabus for the spring 2021 term.

**If the text is not already owned by the Library, an order will be submitted for purchase. However, we cannot promise or guarantee when or if the item will arrive in time to be processed for the course.**

Please send any inquiries to Mrs. Santa Ojeda, Reserves Manager at

For Faculty - Improving Students' Access to Textbook Materials

Textbook Solutions – Supporting Better Student Access to Course Materials


As many faculty are aware, a lot of Hostos students have difficulty accessing course materials due to the high cost of many commercial textbooks. During the COVID-19 emergency, they lost access to a lifeline—the Hostos Library’s Reserve Textbook Collection. When the Library is able to safely re-open, we will not be able to offer the short-term loans of reserve textbooks because of the time needed to quarantine between check-outs.

Some Ways the Hostos Library Can Help:

ZTC/OER Textbooks

For several years Hostos faculty have been adopting, or sometimes even developing new "Zero Textbook Cost" (ZTC) or "Open Educational Resources" (OER) textbooks. These ZTC/OER textbooks are all electronically available and free to Hostos students. So far, we have published 37 OERs created or adopted by Hostos faculty, from Allied Health to the Visual & Performing Arts Performing Arts.

In recent years faculty from across the nation have been busy writing or curating quality ZTC/OER textbooks, many of them developed for student populations from community colleges. I have developed an online guide with some places to start searching for OER materials.

Electronic E-books

the Hostos Library provides access to about 700-thousand e-books. Many of these are available to an unlimited number of users at a time, making them great candidates for use in a course. You can begin exploring e-books with a keyword search in OneSearch (be sure to use the "Full Text Online" and "Books" filters). The library can help you decode the subscription type to determine availability for course use.

Other Materials

You can use OneSearch or access individual library databases to discover articles, book chapters, videos, reports, and other kinds of materials that are available free to Hostos students via subscription.

Maximizing Access to Your Commercial Textbook

If you will continue to use your commercial textbook, you can scan individual chapters that will be required for your course, and upload these to Blackboard for your students. NOTE: you may upload only one chapter at a time, and take down the previous chapter before posting a new reading.

  • Check out the Library's Reserve Scanning Project - set up to help fill a need during the COVID-19 emergency, since physical library books are not available.

For More Information and Help:

If you need support identifying, collecting, or provide access to any of these textbook alternatives, please email Linda Miles (, or reach out to the library faculty member designated as liaison to your discipline.

Details on using RedShelf

You must set up a free account with your Hostos email to rent or buy books from RedShelf. 

RedShelf create an account


When you fill in the information, use your Hostos email address and find Hostos in the list of colleges:

How to make a RedShelf account 


They will send you a confirmation email with a "VERIFY ACCOUNT" LINK you must click.

Please note - during the Spring of 2020, RedShelf was offering free access to textbooks - there will NOT be free access for Fall 2020, but it is still worth checking and comparing prices. 

Details on using Vital Source

You must set up a free account with your Hostos email to rent or buy books from VitalSource

Go to: and sign up for an account.

use Hostos email to create account

For more information, see this FAQ on the VitalSource website.

Please note: in Spring 2020, Vital Source offered free access to textbooks. Access will NOT be free in Fall 2020, but if you need to buy the book, it is worth checking and comparing prices. 

Details on using Internet Archive

You must set up a free account to read books from the Internet ArchiveInternet Archive is free, but there are sometimes waitlists to borrow books. Here is their Frequently Asked Questions page.

During COVID, while the library is physically closed, some of our books may have an Internet Archive link. It will look like this in OneSearch - click on the blue text that says "Internet Archive". 

Internet Archive link


If you are not logged in, you will not be able to see all the pages of your book. You must make an account and log in to read the whole book. 

When you try to borrow a book, you will see this screen - click on "create an account"

Internet Archive login screen

You can use any email address to make an account. 

internet archive sign-up

You will receive a confirmation email--you must click on the link in order to finish setting up your account:

verification email with link