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Textbooks, workbooks, and Course Reserve

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Course Reserve policies can become complicated when it comes to textbooks, workbooks, and printed coursepacks. First, you need to consider the law and policies relating to the use of these items on an electronic course reserve system. Then there is the matter of general library collection policies for these kinds of material. Finally the practices of putting these items on physical reserve in the library must be addressed.

Putting textbook, workbook, and licensed coursepack materials on electronic Course Reserve is problematic at best. One of the major arguments for finding Course Reserve to be fair use is that it is transformative in the sense that the original material was not meant for educational use. Textbooks and workbooks are clearly intended for educational use so the amount that could be considered fair use is much smaller than other works. Additionally since workbooks are disposable pages from them could easily be considered replacements for legitimately purchased copies of the entire work and should not be put on electronic course reserve. Coursepacks are problematic in the sense that the right to use each work in the paper coursepack was purchased for use only in a physical format; this did not include the right to produce digital copies that do replace the sale of the coursepack itself. Material not in the coursepack could be placed on electronic reserve, but readings is the coursepack should be avoided.

Two questions that come up when processing a book request for Course Reserve is does the library own the material and should the library own the material. Textbooks tend to be expensive, quickly replaced by new editions, frequently stolen, and lack future research interest. However a case can be made for their purchase and if the library owns a copy it probably can be put on Course Reserve. Workbooks, coursepacks, and custom textbooks however are almost never purchased for any library’s collection. Coursepacks and custom textbooks are designed to have a short lifespan of use, often only a semester, and would need costly rebinding to survive in on a library shelf for many years. Workbooks by their very nature are to be marked up, written in, and generally treated in a way that most libraries would consider to be damaging, in addition to the fact that most are bound in a manner that almost insures a short lifespan.

Usually an instructor must own a legally produced copy of the textbook, workbook, or coursepack to be put on Course Reserve. Using an instructor owned copy does mean that a copy will be available for student use regardless of the individual library’s collection policies. Generally it is a sound idea to use a short loan period and keep the materials in the library if possible. These materials may have to be repurchased by the instructor if it is stolen or damaged, most libraries do not take responsibility for copies put on Course Reserve.

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