The English department book exchange bookshelf begins to fill up. (Photo Kate Konchar)
Books sit on the English department book exchange shelf. The book exchange offers students free books, but asks that students leave another  book when they take one from the shelf. (Photo by Kate Konchar)

Walking on the fourth floor of Elizabeth Hall, students might stop to pick up a book from a new bookshelf. Signs on the shelf read “books,” “textbooks,” “magazines” and the most prominent, “Take a book. Give a book.”

This last sign says it all. The English department has begun an open book exchange in which students, faculty and staff can leave books they are done with and take a new one that interests them.

Judy Elsley, an English professor and administrator of the honors program, initiated the bookshelf out of inspiration she has had on trips. When staying in hotels, she has found bookshelves where vacationers will leave their books for other people to pick up.

“I thought, ‘why not try something here at Weber like this?’” Elsley said. “All of us in the English department are readers. We love books, and we usually have far more books than we can make room for.”

Faculty members often receive sample copies of textbooks for the classes they are teaching. The professors might not necessarily ever have a use for these books, so they sit on the shelves. With the English department book exchange, the faculty now has the option to leave those textbooks on the shelf for students to use.

The basic guideline of the book exchange is to honor the spirit of the bookshelf. The key word is “exchange.” In order to take one book, you must leave one book. If you’re cleaning out the bookshelf and selling them off somewhere else, you’re not honoring the intent of the bookshelf.

The purpose is that people will donate and take books for their own pleasure. If someone has finished a book that they don’t want to keep forever, they can leave it on the shelf for other people to read.

“Everybody should own books and have easy access to books,” Elsley said. “They are yours take. There are no catches.”

The hope for the book exchange is that anyone will bring in any type of book they are finished reading and add to the collection.

Elsley would like to see the bookshelf grow, and for the content to expand. Currently, about three people have donated, and the shelves are just starting to fill with English books. She would like to see history books, Spanish books or childrens’ books added to the mix.

The book exchange is primarily directed towards students, though only faculty members have donated so far. Anyone on campus can stop by to check out the collection, and to donate a new variety of tastes.

The bookshelf is stationed in Elizabeth Hall indefinitely.

“We’re in the business of books,” Elsley said. “Let’s let that last forever.”

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