Making Course Readings Available

Course readings are integral to most classes so it’s important to know how best to make them readily available for your students. This tip sheet and the supporting materials will hopefully make the process easier. It outlines the options, including the pros and cons, for the most common types of reading materials.


The simplest case is when the reading materials are entire books. For these there are two straightforward options:

  • Ask the Odyssey Bookshop in the Village Commons, to stock and sell the book to the students.
    This is quite straightforward and raises no copyright concerns - it may create a money problem for the students. It does require some leadtime (a few weeks) in ordering. Contact the Odyssey for more information on procedure.
  • Ask the Library to put the book on Reserve.
    For an individual book, that the Library owns or can reasonably purchase (or that you provide), this is also uncomplicated and there are no copyright concerns. You can even ask the Library to order an extra copy if it is for a large class. It’s certainly cheaper for the students, though it does limit their access as compared to each of them having a copy. And again, you need some leadtime (especially if the book is to be purchased) to allow the Library to process your request. For more information, check out "How to Submit Print Reserves" or contact the Reserves Office (x2433).

Note that except in rare circumstances, copying whole books would be a serious copyright violation.

Articles or Chapters

For individual articles or book chapters, your options increase but so does the complexity. Although you can use the original source (e.g. the journal issue itself or the whole book), it would be much more common to use a photocopy and that’s where concerns about copyright start to come in. Assuming the use of copies, there are three primary choices:

  • Place a copy on Reserve in the Library.
    The Library is aware of the copyright concerns. Where required they will request copyright permission so that you needn’t worry about it. As with books, the Library does require some leadtime for processing your Reserve requests and you need to give the Library a copy of the article(s) to use. Items should be submitted by Aug. 1st (fall) or Jan. 1st (spring) in order to be ready when classes start. Mid-semester additions can usually be made within a week. Generally the downside to this option is the somewhat limited access for the students. To ameliorate this, the Library has instituted a second option:
  • Place a copy on Electronic Reserve.
    The Library, through the LITS Digitization Center, can scan the article, creating a digital copy that will be e-mailed to you and can then be posted to Moodle. See "How to Submit E-Reserves" for more information on the process.
  • Digitize a copy and put it up in your course website.
    On the up side it offers full control and therefore more flexibility/spontaneity in assigning or changing readings. It also offers your students quick and easy access. On the down side, there are some definite copyright concerns to remember here. Posting copyrighted material on an open website would clearly be a violation (so you would need to restrict access), and copying/scanning a large portion of a work remains problematic even if access is restricted. But, if you stay within& reasonable bounds, current thinking, though not yet proven in court, is that this would comply with the spirit of Fair Use.


Beyond an individual article or book chapter there are coursepacks. There are serious copyright concerns involved with coursepacks since they are specifically prohibited in most interpretations of Fair Use. Essentially you need to have copyright permission on each piece to compile a coursepack which adds considerably to both the time needed and the expense. Often the royalties/permission fees charged will end up doubling the cost of the coursepack. Aside from that important consideration, however, your options are similar to those for books and single articles. Note that if you place the individual readings on reserve (or e-reserve) there are less concerns than if you want to keep the readings together as one large compiled document.