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Continuity Planning: COVID-19

Resources for transitioning to distributed online learning and teaching.

Library eBook/Textbook Access

Physical textbook checkouts will not be available Spring 2021. However, we are trying to provide online access to as many textbooks and course materials as possible. Please check the Course Reserves list to see if your textbook is already online and available. If not, please email us. This page includes some general information about eBook access that may be helpful in understanding the many different factors involved.

Why can't the library provide access to any (or all) of my assigned course materials?*

The library can only purchase ebook copies of materials made available by publishers. Unfortunately, most traditional textbook publishers do not sell electronic versions of their works to libraries for institutional licenses and access. 

The library is very interested in working with faculty to explore alternative course materials to help save your students money or facilitate their access to materials, we would be happy to collaborate with you and help you. Please see the Faculty section of this guide.

What can our library do to help with course materials?*

  • Find electronic resources that the library can license or purchase in place of the print copies usually placed on reserve.
  • Provide you with options such as finding and using electronic materials we have already licensed.
  • Work with the Accessibility Resource Center to create scans of textbook chapters (up to 15% of a textbook or more with the publisher's permission) for instructors to post on Canvas.
  • Help you investigate or adopt open educational resources (OER).

Why is the library suspending print reserves for our students?*

With the safety of our students and library staff in mind, we will be suspending our print reserves this fall due to COVID-19. The very nature of our print reserves pose a problem because they are high touch and high use items. We understand this is not only an inconvenience to everyone but may disrupt students’ access to assigned course materials; however, we must prioritize the health of our community and work to prevent the spread of the virus.

Why can’t the library just subscribe to VitalSource and/or RedShelf for e-textbooks?*

The library can only purchase ebook copies of materials made available by publishers. Unfortunately, most traditional textbook publishers do not sell electronic versions of their works to libraries for institutional licenses and access. In practice, this means that by and large the library cannot acquire electronic textbooks from major publishers, such as Pearson and Cengage to name a few, even if these materials were made temporarily available for free on VitalSource.

You may have heard of a textbook business solution from VitalSource called "Inclusive Access". In this business model, materials are adopted across an entire university and sold to students at a discounted price, usually negotiated by the university, the campus bookstore, and textbook publisher or provider. While inclusive access can offer cost savings and day-one access to students, access to materials in this model is temporary, and students are billed automatically for textbooks unless they opt out. In this model, textbooks are still purchased by students, and the library does not play a role in providing access.

For further reading, we recommend the chapter "Inclusive Access: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why?" in The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in the Higher Education Environment: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples.

Why did we have temporary access to VitalSource and/or RedShelf?*

Since we in the Libraries are aware that students depend on access to textbooks, the Pepperdine Libraries decided to share and promote the news announcement of temporary free access being made by VitalSource, RedShelf, and other publishers following the unprecedented shutdowns in response to COVID-19. 

The VitalSource Helps program was established "for students separated from previously acquired course materials mid-semester due to campus closures that occurred at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis. This program was designed to help students that were active-in-term when their campus closed and is made possible by the generosity of a diverse coalition of more than 350 leading content providers." The company has also stated "[w]e are unable to extend the initiative to institutions with terms that began between March 16th and the program end date of May 25th, 2020." 


*These FAQ are reused here with permission from Pepperdine University Libraries Library InfoGuides' Library Course Material Support for Summer & Fall 2020 Faculty Guide (June 12, 2020).