Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Barnes and Noble@VCU, VCU Libraries is able to notify faculty on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses when a book they are assigning is available as an unlimited user ebook. Although purchasing traditional textbooks (e.g. Algebra 1, Introduction to US History) falls outside of our collection guidelines, we have many scholarly books that are already being assigned as course materials. This project allows students to freely access their course materials without faculty having to make any changes to their course plans.

As required by the VCU Textbook Sales and Adoption policy, Barnes and Noble generates a centralized listing of assigned textbooks and other course materials as reported by faculty. Through a partnership with the bookstore, VCU Libraries compares this comprehensive list of adoptions to our ebooks and identifies those that are available as unlimited user licenses. While most ebooks function like their print counterparts and only allow a limited number of users (typically 1 or 3) access at a time, unlimited user ebooks ensure all students will be able to access the title, no matter the size of the class. When an unlimited user ebook is identified, the faculty is notified and a link to the resource is shared, with hopes the information will be passed along to students via syllabi, Canvas or email. Emails are sent in August for the fall semester, in December or early January for the spring semester, and in May or June for summer sessions.

This academic year, VCU Libraries is also partnering with VIVA, the Virginia Academic Library Consortium, on their Curriculum Driven Acquisitions program. Through this program, VIVA reviews bookstore adoptions and is able to purchase additional ebooks for use in courses. Faculty assigning newly purchased titles are emailed through the same notification process.

Library ebooks as course content

Even if you did not receive an email notifying you that an ebook was available for your course, you’re welcome to reach out to the open educational resources librarian or your subject specialist to see if it is available as an unlimited user ebook or if VCU Libraries can purchase it as such. You are also welcome to check 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.

Please note that only unlimited user ebooks are recommended for use as required course content. If it is not clear how many user licenses are available for an VCU Libraries ebook, please reach out to the open educational resources librarian or your subject specialist. 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. Learn more about VCU Libraries’ support for using ebooks as course content.

If you’re looking for other types of materials to assign in your course, we also recommend exploring the VCU Libraries’ streaming media collections or digital collections or looking into open educational resource (OER), or teaching/learning materials that are free to access and allow for unrestricted use, retention, sharing and editing.

Image by V. Nong, used with Unsplash License

Categories Open and Affordable Course Content