Recommendations for Faculty/Instructors Regarding Spring Course Materials

Yale Library has several recommendations for faculty as they prepare for Spring term. High among them is that planning for courses begin as soon as possible.

Thanks to the Poorvu Center, Canvas is open for use earlier than ever before. Faculty may begin adding Spring 2021 course reserves as soon as they have access to Canvas. Through Course Reserves, instructors can utilize Library subscriptions and can request scans of limited portions of works from our physical collections.

Course Reserves will process requests whenever they are received, but to minimize the deluge of requests at the start of Spring we strongly recommend requesting items needed at the start of the term before November 30. This will allow time to source electronic items for purchase, digitize content where possible, and to find alternates if necessary. Turnaround times vary, but it can take four to six weeks to obtain some content.

To provide more equitable access for students, faculty are encouraged to use library-licensed and open-access materials whenever possible. HathiTrust’s emergency temporary access service will continue through Spring term. As happened during the Fall term due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, physical reserves will not be offered in the Spring term.

Considering the inaccessibility of physical reserves, those assigning textbooks and e-books should be aware of the restrictions and limitations the Library faces in accessing and obtaining certain electronic content:

  • Many textbook publishers refuse to license e-book formats to libraries. Pearson, Cengage/Gale, McGraw Hill, Macmillan, Norton, and Oxford University Press are examples of textbook publishers whose e-books are extremely difficult to license or typically not available for libraries to purchase.
  • Many publishers of fiction and popular nonfiction will not license multiuser e-book copies to libraries, and some do not offer any e-book licensing to libraries. Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster are among the publishers whose books are almost impossible to license.
  • Limits on concurrent users of e-books (including those accessible via HathiTrust) constrains the library’s capacity to simultaneously serve the course needs of all students, particularly with large courses and expensive books.

While copyright and access barriers prevent the library from providing all requested course materials, library experts can help find and acquire electronic materials, or search for alternatives where necessary. The Library will make the best possible efforts to help fulfill pedagogical needs.

Subject specialists can help by:

  • Identifying materials that are available electronically
  • Identifying open educational materials
  • Suggesting alternate content

Course Reserves staff can help by:

  • Purchasing electronic content if available
  • Scanning portions of works for access through Canvas course sites
  • Providing links to books via HathiTrust’s temporary access service
  • Providing access to licensed library resources

More Information:

This document modifies and adapts content from the University of Michigan and Emory University.

By Sandra Aya Enimil, Copyright Librarian and Contracting Specialist, Yale Library

The information presented on the Conversations on Copyright blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The Copyright Librarian and Contracting Specialist does not act as legal counsel to the university or any members of the university community.

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