Access to Course Materials for Fall 2020

During the summer, the University has had access to the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service, which provided access to scanned copies of many of the print volumes in the library. Under the terms of this access, we will no longer be able to provide access to this service once the building opens to students on August 24.

For the safety of our employees and students, we are not providing print course reserves this Fall Semester. Library faculty and staff are working hard to provide alternative access to the print course reserves collection. A significant portion of the books on reserve are print copies of required textbooks and other materials frequently assigned for courses. Library employees have continuously explored approaches to how we acquire course materials to ensure that students have access in an online environment. This work is complicated by publishers who do not provide electronic purchasing options for libraries. Many existing course materials are unavailable to any library, regardless of budget, in formats other than print. Publishers have built their profit models around selling course materials directly to students. We know that the cost of textbooks and other course materials are a barrier for students.

Despite the library’s desire to make copies of textbooks and course materials available to assist those students who are unable to purchase their own, the following publishers do not make e-book versions of their publications available to libraries:

  • Pearson
  • Cengage
  • McGraw Hill
  • Oxford University Press 
  • Many health sciences texts

Therefore, in courses that have adopted textbooks by these publishers, students who do not purchase or rent the book will not have any alternative access to the book via the library.

What are the alternatives?

Use Faculty Select: We are working with instructors to explore and find viable alternatives. Instructors can use Faculty Select to identify and adopt for class use:

  • Open educational resources (OER). OERs are freely available educational materials that are openly licensed to allow for re-use and modification by instructors
  • Instructors can select existing multi-user, DRM-free e-books in the relevant subject area from the library’s e-book collection for course use. Or, instructors can request the library purchase one. Many academic e-books aren’t considered textbooks and are therefore available for the library to purchase.

Instructors are also encouraged to:

Any instructors teaching a fall course are also welcome to contact the library at any time for support with sourcing their course materials. Reach out to your librarian.

Thank you to our colleagues at the University of Guelph for documenting the challenges of purchasing ebooks. Text also adapted from Grand Valley State University.

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3 Responses to Access to Course Materials for Fall 2020

  1. Dr. Gerry Neumark says:

    As a faculty member conducting research, I have several books which are now overdue. I took them out when the library was still open to faculty. I would like to continue using these books if possible. Is there a way that I can renew the books? What do you recommend at this point?

  2. Laura Burtle says:

    Since the library was closed this summer, we changed due dates for books to 6/15/2021 for GSU faculty.

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