Getting Textbooks

Make sure you have reliable access to all the textbooks required for your courses. 

Buying textbooks

You can search and shop for textbooks in John Jay's Online Bookstore. Books can be bought new or used, as rentals, and/or as ebooks. The campus pickup location is L2.66.00 (mailroom) in the New Building, open M–F 9am–5pm.

CUNY offers a Textbook Savings page, which lists other textbook retailers and websites.

Borrowing textbooks in the Library

The Library owns some, but not all, textbooks. You may be able to borrow textbooks required for your courses from the Library.

Is the book is available from the Library? Search for the title and/or author in OneSearch. (How?)

How to find a book's call number: If we have the book, it will be listed with a section and call number in OneSearch, like this:

 Available at John Jay Reserve Room - 3-hour loan JC578 .R38 1999b

How to use Reserve Room books: Request Reserve books at the Reserve Desk (to the right after entering the Library) by giving the library staff member there the call number. Reserve textbooks may only be used in the Library for 3 hours at a time. Be sure to avoid overdue fines. You can scan (free) or copy (15¢/pg) portions of the book. You can check out a Reserve book multiple times throughout the semester. 

How to check out a Stacks book: Some books may be located in the Stacks section. They can be checked out and taken home.


  • Write the call number on your syllabus, since you will need it every time you ask for the textbook.
  • A call number contains letters and numbers. It is not the same as an ISBN.
  • Pay attention to the book’s edition, which should be listed in OneSearch search results. Your instructor may require or recommend a different edition than what the Library has. If in doubt, ask your instructor whether the Library’s edition will suffice for your schoolwork. 
  • Portions of books may be copied or scanned on the machines in the Reserve Room or on the second floor of the Library. Never scan or copy a complete book, since that would be a copyright infringement.

Zero textbook cost courses: Did you know that you can find courses in the course catalog that don’t require you to buy textbooks? These “Z” courses are specifically listed to help you find affordable classes. Here's how to find them.

Last updated August 8, 2018