This guide was written and compiled by:
When academic instruction changed to a fully digital environment during the pandemic, library e-books further evolved into an acceptable, usable format in the classroom. However, there are still many questions related to availability, type, access, and use of e-books. This guide will explain some basic information about Library e-books, like the different types and the limits to acquiring them, as well as e-book user access, downloads, and printing, and e-textbooks/e-reserves.
Table of Contents:
What is the difference between a proprietary institutional e-book and a non-proprietary digitized or scanned e-book?
A proprietary institutional e-book is a functional product, hosted and sharable across campus, usually with digital rights management (DRM) restrictions determined by the publisher and distributed by a vendor. However, a new subset of proprietary library e-books with no DRM restrictions is becoming available. DRM-free e-books are device and accessibility friendly. Once downloaded, they are owned forever. Such books have unlimited user licenses, making them an asset for faculty and their courses. The Library has already invested in these books and will acquire more as availability allows. In some cases, proprietary institutional e-books may simply be web pages of links and text on a publisher platform.
A non-proprietary digitized or scanned e-book can be defined as either self-created, out of copyright or with little copyright, and/or easily shareable. Higher quality digitized e-books can be found on sites like Project Guttenberg and Internet Archive, while lesser quality scanned books under copyright can be found on sites like Open Library. In general, a book under copyright cannot be fully scanned and distributed legally, although there are some exceptions for libraries.
For more further information about e-books, visit these Library research guides:
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What factors may limit the Library in purchasing e-books?
Not all print books are available as e-books, and for those that are, the Library is limited in its acquisition based on several factors which include:
Faculty can recommend an e-book for the Library’s general collection by submitting a Library Materials Request Form.
When the Library purchases an e-book, can it set the e-book's user options?
Can e-book content be downloaded and/or printed?
What are the general advantages and disadvantages of Library e-books?
Are e-textbooks available at the Library?
Unfortunately, many recent-edition course textbooks are unavailable to the Library as e-textbooks because textbook publishers often do not permit libraries to purchase e-book copies of their traditional print publications. In fact, at least two-thirds of current edition textbooks are simply not available for institutional e-book purchase. However, the Library has a more successful chance of acquiring non-traditional course-required readings as e-books.
Examples of publishers that libraries can have difficulty obtaining the latest editions of e-textbooks from include:
It is recommended that faculty wishing to use e-books for courses complete a Reserves Request Form so that e-availability and best access to content can be determined.
What if an institutional e-textbook is not available for a course?
The Library has success with finding current edition digitized textbooks on Open Library. It is a free service available with account creation through a check in, check out system. The site operates through controlled lending practices managed by libraries.
The Library’s new E-Reserves system can offer online digitized versions of chapters or small portions of text from print books purchased or owned by the Library. Course packs can also be digitized and made available in this manner. If the course pack is not copyrighted, the entire course pack can be digitized. To explore E-Reserves options, please submit an E-Reserves Request Form. For further information about E-Reserves, visit the link below.
The Library’s primary mission remains supporting overall curriculum content. When faculty inform the Library of specific course materials to be placed on Course Reserve or E-Reserve for students, the Library can support specific course content through a variety of options and services.
What are the benefits of OER e-textbooks?
Open Educational Resource (OER) e-textbooks allow educators to access, re-use, and redistribute resources with little to no copyright restrictions. OER textbooks are essentially non-proprietary digital e-books that can be self-created, distributed, uploaded, and re-created, if the original creator is noted. CSI OER e-textbooks can be linked into the library catalog and can potentially be uploaded to other systems such as E-Reserves and CUNY Academic Commons.
The benefit of OER e-textbooks for faculty is the ability to manage and create their own specific course content. The benefit for students is significant cost savings. For more information on implementing OER for a CSI course, visit these Library research guides: