VCU Libraries is faculty’s campus partner for selecting and sharing course materials. Drawing on expertise in collections, copyright, and more, libraries faculty and staff can help instructors thinking about textbook affordability, find the right materials for class and ensure those materials are shared legally. Information on this support and more can be found on the library’s course materials selection and sharing information page.

Finding freely available versions of textbooks

For those assigning scholarly works as their textbooks, VCU Libraries may own an ebook version of your course materials. While our collections guidelines prevent us from purchasing traditional textbooks (e.g. Algebra 1, Introduction to US History), VCU Libraries owns a number of ebooks with unlimited user licenses that can be used as course content. Only unlimited user ebooks are recommended for use as required course content, because all students will be able to access the title, no matter the size of the class. Other ebooks function like their print counterparts and only allow a limited number of users (typically 1 or 3) access at a time. If it is not clear how many user licenses are available for an ebook, please reach out to your subject specialist or the open educational resources librarian. VCU Libraries also recommends checking to ensure that ebook links work before each subsequent semester of usage. VCU Libraries’ print books can also be placed on course reserves to ensure they are available to students.

If VCU Libraries does not currently own an ebook, faculty are first encouraged to consult the VIVA Faculty Portal, which is part of a state-funded initiative to provide no-cost and barrier-free access to course resources for students. Ebooks that are successfully purchased through this resource will be added to VCU Libraries’ collection. If the title cannot be found through the portal, you may submit a purchase request to VCU Libraries to see if it can be directly purchased.

If VCU Libraries cannot purchase an unlimited user ebook of your ideal materials, we recommend investigating whether a suitable resource is available as an open educational resource (OER). OER are teaching/learning materials that are free to access (digitally) and have open licensing that allows for unrestricted use, retention, sharing and editing. VCU Libraries supports faculty finding, customizing and creating OER. To learn more, review our OER guide.

If you’re looking for other types of materials to assign in your course, we also recommend checking out the VCU Libraries’ streaming media collections or digital collections.

Sharing copies with students

Those using materials available in print with students primarily in Richmond may consider donating a copy of their textbooks to VCU Libraries course reserves. Our reserve program allows students to check out course materials for a limited period of time.

If an instructor would prefer to share a book digitally, VCU Libraries can provide guidance on how to evaluate whether you are legally sharing resources with students, including whether your sharing qualifies as fair use. VCU Libraries always recommends sharing links with students, especially with library materials, to avoid possible copyright infringement.

Categories Digital collections, Open and Affordable Course Content, Scholarly communications