Book lists finally added to fall schedule of classes

Because of a technical glitch that went unnoticed by administrators, book lists were not initially available on the fall 2010 schedule of classes, despite the university’s announcement that lists would be added for all courses.

The university announced in February that book lists would be available for all courses in the fall schedule of classes in compliance with a new federal law that goes into effect in July and requires all schools to publish textbook information in their course catalogues. The move, administrators said, was intended to help students monitor their textbook costs as they selected courses for the upcoming semester.

But when the schedule of classes went online in early March, the book lists were nowhere to be found.

“There was an error generated by having more than one registration term active at one time,” said Ken Servis, dean of academic records and registrar. “We had registration open for summer 2010 and fall 2010, so the system didn’t display the book lists for fall.”

Once brought to the attention of administrators, the error was fixed at noon on Monday. Since then, the lists have been accessible via a small textbook icon next to each class on the online schedule of classes. It includes each textbook’s title, ISBN and new and used prices.

Though not all students had noticed that the book lists were absent, many are glad to have the chance to view them now.

“Now that they’re there, they’re really helpful,” said Samantha Howell, a sophomore majoring in international relations and political science. “I tend to buy all my textbooks online, and the lists make that process a lot easier.”

For students, the technical error was fixed just in time: Registration for undergraduates begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“Thankfully, nobody had registered yet, so it doesn’t really make a difference,” Servis said. “It’s the first time we’ve had two terms open for registration, which is why there was a glitch.”

Lisa Zhao, the vice chair and textbook campaign coordinator for USC’s California Public Interest Research Group said it is important that the problem was fixed in time for registration.

“Students have a right to know what textbooks they’re using and how much they will cost before they register for classes,” she said. “I’ve had to drop classes because the textbooks were so expensive, and the book lists stop that from happening.”

Though the technical glitch has been resolved, many classes are still missing their book lists. This year, teachers were required to submit their book lists by Feb. 22, six weeks earlier than the previous deadline, and Servis said many professors missed that deadline.

Zhao said she thinks it is important that all professors take the time to determine their book lists early.

“The [new] requirements also make sure professors know about the prices of their own textbooks,” she said. “A lot of the time they don’t know how expensive their textbooks are. Hopefully now they’ll be more conscious.”

Aside from costs, the textbooks help students decide on classes based on their academic interests.

“It definitely helps a lot of people choose which classes they’re going to take,” Zhao said. “Students need to have a good overview of how many books they’re going to read and whether they’re interested in those books. If they’re deciding between two classes, a list of material helps weigh out which to take.”