This is one of the top questions we get during the first week of classes, and we understand why: textbooks are ridiculously expensive. Why wouldn't you check them out for free if you have the option?
So here is the answer: maybe. Here is what you can do to find out.
1. Search the library catalog by the book title or the author. We do not make a habit of ordering textbooks for our main collection, so it is unlikely that you will find one that you can check out for four weeks. Textbooks are updated too often and we prefer ordering books that will stand the test of time and support the ongoing research and study needs of the university. Occasionally, however, a textbook makes it into our collection, so you should search the library catalog. Make sure you take note of the current call number and location. Some books used for classes are temporarily placed at the Reserves desk, which is option #2.
2. Search the course reserve system by instructor or course. A professor may have placed a personal copy at the Reserves desk on the first floor of the library. Items on Reserve may be used for a limited period of time -- usually only a few hours and usually only in the library -- to allow you to read a chapter, take notes, or make a few copies. Items on reserve can also be found in the library catalog by title or author, but if you don't know this information, the course reserves system is useful.
3. While we often don't have textbooks in our collection, we do have many of your supplemental readings, such as novels, plays, and non-fiction books. Check the catalog and take note of location information. Some of these materials are also placed temporarily at the Reserves desk.
Note: Although we're telling you how to find out for yourself, feel free to ask for help at the Reference Desk or through our IM, email, or phone service.