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Copyright Basics

Textbooks & Copyright During COVID 19

The library will not be able to provide reserve textbook access to students in the fall 2020 semester. 

We sincerely regret not being able to facilitate reserve collection borrowing, since we know many students rely on textbook reserves to complete their courses. Providing open access to information is at the core of libraries’ values. 

Unfortunately, there are several reasons the library will not be able to offer traditional reserve collection resources this fall:

  1.  We cannot lend out physical reserve items via traditional or curbside service: the latest scientific guidance on reopening libraries safely recommends that highly-circulated materials be quarantined for 3 days after use. That means each time a reserve item is borrowed, it would be out of circulation for 3 days before another student could borrow it. This is impractical and would not provide equitable access.
  2. We are unable to scan or copy needed portions of a textbook to distribute via curbside service or electronic delivery: it would be a violation of copyright law for library staff to do so.
  3. We cannot scan portions of a textbook to make available in D2L for students: that would also be a violation of copyright law. 
  4. In many cases, it is impossible for libraries to purchase electronic copies of textbooks. Many of the largest textbook publishers - including Pearson, Cengage, McGraw Hill, and Oxford UP - simply do not allow libraries to purchase their textbooks in electronic format: their profit models are based on selling directly to students. 

For more information on how the textbook publishing market impacts students and libraries, please see these statements from the GVSU Libraries and University of Guelph Libraries.  

  1. We are currently investigating services that would allow us to provide student access to electronic textbooks, but those vendors are still negotiating with textbook publishers and do not yet have a viable solution for libraries. 

We recognize that students will be negatively affected by these circumstances, so we recommend the following:

  1. Contact your textbook vendors and request they make content freely available online to your students, as many of them (including Norton) did in mid-March when the college first closed. 
  2. Consult this LibGuide with information about copyright and providing access to class materials online
  3. Contact your library department liaison: if your course uses books that are not classified as textbooks, the library may be able to purchase additional copies of non-textbook ebooks and add them to our ebook database collections. 

Please contact your library liaison with questions or concerns. We sincerely regret this situation and hope to work together with faculty, administration, vendors, and publishers to find a solution for student textbook access.