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Library Services - Spring 2021


In order to equitably meet the needs of students learning both remotely and on campus, library course reserves will be a digital only collection this year. Upon faculty request, library staff locate, identify and purchase course materials available electronically to the fullest extent possible through purchasing e-books, scanning, and purchasing digital site licenses (DSL).

PLEASE NOTE: Not all materials are available in a digital format available for library purchase. Library staff are able to scan sections of books for online reserves as long as Fair Use Guidelines are met. Subject Liaison Librarians can suggest alternatives when a title is not available online.



  • If you want only a portion of a work scanned, use the Electronic Reserves form.
  • If you would like the entire electronic book available, use the Library Acquisition Request form and make sure to note at the bottom which course it's for.
  • For streaming video, use the Video Streaming Access Request Form if the library already owns the DVD (check the catalog). If the library does not already own a DVD of the title, please use the Video Acquisition Request Form instead and note that the title is required for reserve. If you have questions about streaming video or would like suggestions for videos available on a topic, please contact Gretchen Lieb, Film and Video Librarian.
  • For digital copies of scores and recordings, please contact Sarah Canino, Music Librarian.

Please Be Aware

  • Copyright law still applies. Therefore, the library cannot legally scan and make entire books available. If adjustments need to be made in order to comply with Fair Use Guidelines, library staff will contact you to and work to find a solution.
  • Many e-textbook publishers provided free access to their titles last spring in light of the public health crisis. Most of these offers for free access have ended and will not continue into the upcoming academic year.
  • Our print textbook program is on hold. Digital copies of textbooks are often not available in digital format for institutions.
  • Contemporary fiction is often not available in digital format for institutions. 
  • Access to library e-books is often limited to a certain number of simultaneous users. The library purchases unlimited access whenever possible, but some publishers consistently limit e-books to 1 or 3 users at a time.


  • Submit your requests for required course materials as early as possible.
    • Library staff will assess the online availability of the requested materials, scan where necessary and possible, and let you know if a title is not scannable or available digitally. These steps take time, and we anticipate more requests than usual. 
    • Submissions received after the beginning of the semester will be processed as quickly as possible on a first-come, first-served basis. If you submit a request after classes have started, please allow at least 7 days before assigning the material.
    • Specify exactly what part of a book will be assigned for a course if you are not using the entirety of a text.
    • Recommended and supplemental materials can also be requested, and we will readily scan single book chapters, journal articles, and non-copyrighted material, such as exams, lecture notes, syllabi or U.S. government publications.  Please include the "needed by" date on the request form accurately to help our staff prioritize tasks and ensure that essential materials are available when you need them..  
  • Use what the library already has available online.  
    • Vassar Library has a vast collection of e-books available through the library catalog. Search the library catalog and limit the results to "online materials," or search Discover in the advanced mode and limit to "items with full text online."
  • Be prepared to investigate alternatives.
    • If we are unable to procure digital access to a title, consider alternatives. For example: use a scannable portion of a book (approx. 10%), find an alternative book, or use a collection of articles, chapters, and essays available electronically. Your subject liaison librarian will be happy to consult with you about this and help you find alternatives.


The Vassar College library staff are indebted to the Mt Holyoke College LITS staff for creating a guide describing online reserves resources, copyright restrictions and Fair Use guidelines in the context of physical distancing. Their description has helped us articulate our own resources and policies.