I host regular webinars about the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, helping librarians and others understand how controlled digital lending works, and how their library can make their print collections available to users online. The question of how to safely handle course reserves is clearly among the top priorities for academic librarians as they approach fall semester, just a few short weeks away. At nearly every webinar session since early March, and certainly every session this summer, librarians have raised the question of how controlled digital lending can work for course reserves.
We’re getting such a large number of inquiries on this topic that I thought it would be helpful to outline how Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program and controlled digital lending can help your library with course reserves this fall, and where we may have limitations in supporting your full suite of needs.
What are course reserves?
Course reserves are books & other materials that instructors and students need for particular courses. Materials are requested to be put “on reserve” by the instructor. The library sources those materials and either provides digital access (born digital or scanned) or physical access to the items.
- If physical, the library holds a copy behind the circulation desk or in a special room (like the beautiful Course Reserves room in Webster Library at Concordia University, above), and students check out & read the book for a limited period of time. After that time expires, the work is returned and made available for the next student.
- If digital, the item goes into the library’s e-reserves system and/or the course learning management system, such as Google Classroom, Blackboard, or Canvas, where it can be accessed by students enrolled in the class.
What’s the challenge with course reserves this fall?
Academic libraries have remained open and operational throughout COVID-19 closures, many working with limited-to-no onsite staff. Their operations were already digital, but distance learning and health and safety issues related to lending physical materials have put a renewed emphasis on digital delivery for fall semester. As libraries work to meet the needs of students and faculty returning to instruction this fall—either in person, online, or hybrid models—the demand for new ways of managing and serving course reserves is significant.
How can Internet Archive help?
- Our lending library of 1.5M digitized books is available to your patrons right now. Our books are available to borrow by anyone with an email address and an internet connection, with a simple signup form.
- By default our books circulate for one hour, following the usage pattern of our own users and HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service. When we have additional copies, books can also be checked out for 14 days.
- If your library joins the Open Libraries program, we can process your course reserves list (either in MARC format or just a list of ISBNs) and give you back links to the books we’ve already digitized. You can incorporate those links back into your catalog, course reserves system, or learning management system.
- To be clear, you don’t have to join the program to access our books. Anyone can link to our books right now. If you join, we’ll analyze your records for matches and give you back links. You can also opt to put one copy of your matched books into controlled digital lending so that we have an additional copy to lend, but again, that’s not required.
- If we don’t have a book you need, you can help bump it up higher in our acquisition wish list by completing this Course Reserves request form, which will ask you to submit the book’s ISBN, title, author, year published, and anticipated # students in the course.
- If you have a book that we don’t have, and you want to make it available to users to check out online through controlled digital lending, we can work with you to upload your book into our CDL environment. Please read our program limitations below, and reach out to learn more.
Internet Archive’s controlled digital lending service is not a perfect match for all course reserve scenarios. You should consider the following program limitations as you plan for fall semester:
- Your patrons will have to create an account at archive.org to check out books. We don’t connect to eduroam or Shibboleth for single-sign on. (If you’re interested in helping us implement and integrate a Shibboleth connection let us know.)
- You can’t limit users for a particular book to students at your school or students in a particular course. We lend to anyone with an archive.org account.
- We don’t have a calendaring and notification system for one hour loans. Our one hour borrows are first come, first served. We do have waitlists and a notification system for 14 day loans.
- Books added to CDL or requested to be added to CDL must be published in 2015 or earlier. If you have special needs for accessible texts for more recent books, please reach out.
We understand that our implementation of CDL won’t work for every course reserves use case. We offer our collection to assist libraries and schools in connecting students with books this fall semester. We are guided by our library’s mission to provide “universal access to all knowledge,” especially as library service and educational systems are disrupted due to COVID-19. If you have additional questions about how we can help that are not addressed here, please reach out.