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Textbook sharing program gains popularity

College students in South Korea are running a free textbook rental program as part of efforts to reduce the burden of buying increasingly expensive academic books used in classes.

The program named “Dream Library” has become a representative textbook-sharing channel for Sogang University in Seoul, with more students joining the project that spurs used textbooks to be used more effectively and extensively on campus. 
Sogang University students wait to borrow used textbooks at the “Dream Library” in Seoul on Sept. 5. (Sogang Student Club Union)
Sogang University students wait to borrow used textbooks at the “Dream Library” in Seoul on Sept. 5. (Sogang Student Club Union)

The free textbook lending program, organized by Sogang’s Student Club Union, allows members to become both donors and beneficiaries. One can obtain a Dream Library membership by donating a single textbook to the program. The qualified member then can borrow as many as three books per semester, which should be returned by the end of final exams.

“When engineering majors take the Principles of Economics class, most of the textbooks they used end up gathering dust after the semester ends. It is better to turn in books for those who need them,” said Song Yun-suk, 22, the president of Sogang student club union, in an interview with The Korea Herald.

The program was carried out from Sept. 2-17 ― the first two weeks of the semester when students scramble to buy or borrow textbooks required in classes they attend.

The Dream Library program was initially established with the help of SK Communications in the second half of 2011 but has since been managed by the students themselves.

The number of members has grown to about 500 students, with not only students, but also professors at Sogang donating a total of some 250 used textbooks to the program this semester alone.

At minimum, college textbooks cost 20,000 won, and students tend to spend about 100,000 won-200,000 won per semester to get all the necessary primary textbooks and secondary reference titles.

The program has clear merits, but running it is no easy task. Song, chief of the student club union, said more support is needed to expand the list of textbooks in the library, especially popular yet expensive titles.

By Yoon Ha-youn (yhayoun@heraldcorp.com)
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