How Swarthmore helped me build my huge book collection

One of the main things I was worried about coming into college was the prohibitive costs of textbooks.  As an incoming math major, I was especially worried, because math textbooks are notoriously expensive. Luckily, at Swarthmore, there are some programs that make getting your own textbooks more accessible!

One of the most underrated resources for books on campus is Worthmore. It’s pretty well-known that you can go to Worthmore for hangers, desk lamps, fans, mirrors, and even some small appliances. However, less people know about Worthmore’s free bookstore in the back of Underhill library. Since it’s in the back of Underhill, you can go any time the library is open, even if the main Worthmore location isn’t open. The books are organized by course number, so it’s easy to find what you need. Every semester, I’ve been able to find the textbooks I needed for my math classes through Worthmore!

Another great resource is the textbook affordability program (aka TAP). With TAP, you get $700 in credit at the Swarthmore Campus & Community store which you can use to buy course materials. The program is relatively recent, so I didn’t use it until my junior year, but every year since Swat introduced TAP, I’ve spent nothing on textbooks. I took a course exploring Black women’s history through the lens of food and literature, so I purchased a lot of cookbooks and memoirs at the school bookstore. After the semester ended, I was able to take the books home and experiment with some of the recipes. 

Finally, around the end of every semester (especially spring semester), Swarthmore’s Facebook group is flooded with students either cheaply reselling books or giving them away for free. This is a good way to get textbooks, but it is also a great way to get books that you might not read for class but still are interested in checking out. For example, I picked up a copy of Eve L. Ewings Ghosts in the Schoolyard, which I had been meaning to read, from someone else who had read the book in a previous clas. 

Since I save so much money through TAP and Swarthmore’s cash-free campus, I actually have some spending money to go out on adventures in Philly, buy bubble tea in Media, walk over to Target and buy random chotskies, and even buy tickets to indie shows at Union Transfer. And even if I didn’t feel like spending “real human money,” I can still have a good time eating out and buying fun snacks in the Ville– I can even use my points at the Swarthmore Farmers Market! Looking back on my time at Swarthmore, I’m grateful for all the things I’ve been able to access on and around campus for free. 

Leave a Reply