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Virtual Library & Student Resource Guide: Free Textbook Options

Free Access to Textbooks

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, textbook publishers, large and small, have made their textbooks free via different platforms. Below is a list of the most popular providers. Check back to this section often, we will continue making updates as more resources become available:

  • RedShelf:  Textbooks free until May 25. You will have to create a free account, using your student email address and designate your school as Los Angeles City College. More instructions below in this page. 
  • VitalSource: Textbooks free until May 25. You will need to make a log-in with your student email address to qualify. More instructions below in this page. 
  • Cengage UnlimitedResources for Students. Cengage is offering free access to its ebooks and study tools through the end of the semester. 
    • Online and offline access to ebooks via the mobile app is also included. Students will need to renew trial access every two weeks, but there will be no request for a credit card or messaging about payments.
    • For students who are not currently using Cengage Unlimited and have not otherwise activated a trial with within the last 75 days, they should go to www.cengage.com, create an account using their LACCD student email, and choose “Start Trial”. Please find student directions here.
    • For students who have purchased Cengage Unlimited, they can continue to use Cengage Unlimited with no interruption in service, and they will extend access as needed, based on the situation at your institution (i.e. more days are added to our spring semester).  For these students, there is no action item at this time.
    • For general student support, please go to this site.
  • The Library Staff has put together a list of which textbooks are available in RedShelf and VitalSource by Course and Instructor for Spring 2020. It was a long list to go through, so if you don't see your book you may still want to check directly on the platform. 

  • Please note:
    • Some textbooks, specially packaged for LACC, may have different titles than the textbook offered via the bookstore. If you need help finding the textbook, please contact a librarian via the Ask a Librarian chat service (library website or home page of this guide).
    • More textbooks are becoming available every day via these platforms. Most of the major publishers are represented but smaller publishers are being added daily as they give their permission.  

VitalSource Instructions

VitalSource is providing temporary free textbook access through May 25th, 2020. You can access up to 7 free online textbooks.

Registration Instructions:

  1. Go to https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com and create a VitalSource account using your LACCD student mail address. You must use your student email address to get access to this resource.
  2. Check your email for a verification email.
  3. Click the link in your email to finish signing up.
  4. Once you're signed in, click on the link for your book, or search for your book in the search bar at the top of the screen.
  5. Click on the picture of the book, and then click "borrow."
  6. You'll see a notification that reads "This book has been added to My Library." Click "Open Book" to read your book. There are options to print, bookmark, and virtually highlight the pages. There is also an app available, which you can learn about on the site.
  7. You're all set! Just log in to your account whenever you need access to your textbook.

Need help? Watch the Getting Started With Bookshelf video or check the VitalSource Bookshelf Support page for more information.

Adapted from El Camino College Library Guide

RedShelf Instructions

RedShelf is providing temporary free textbook access through May 25th, 2020. You can access up to 7 free online textbooks. 

Registration Instructions:

  1. Go to https://studentresponse.redshelf.com and make an account using your LACCD student email address. You must use your student email address to get access to this resource, and select [Los Angeles City College] under "search for school".
  2. Check your email account for a verification email.
  3. Click the link in your email to finish signing up.
  4. Once you're signed in, click on the link for your book, or search for it in the search bar at the top of the screen.
  5. When you see your book, click "View Details."
  6. Click "Add to My Shelf" and you will be redirected to your "My Shelf."
  7. Click "Start Reading" and the book will open up in your online browser. There are options to print, download portions of the book, bookmark, and highlight the pages.
  8. You're all set! Just log in to your account whenever you need access to your textbook.

Need help? Watch the RedShelf Tutorial Videos or check the RedShelf Solve page for more information.

Adapted from El Camino College Library Guide

Contact Us:
Library (323) 953-4000 ext: 2400 * Reference (323) 953-4000 ext: 2406 * Circulation/Periodicals (323) 953-4000 ext: 2395
mlklibrary@lacitycollege.edu