Penn State Libraries offers course reserves mostly online during pandemic

July 13, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State University Libraries is licensing more e-books, and its course reserves materials will be available to students mostly online. Penn State instructors are encouraged to request course reserves as soon as possible, and libraries personnel are available to help instructors identify electronic resources for their courses. 

The University Libraries will adopt a 96-hour quarantine period (updated as of July 24) for handling print or physical materials, based on the REopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM) Project’s research-supported guidelines. The REALM COVID-19 Research Project is being conducted by the global library cooperative OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences and the provide nonprofit applied science and technology development company Battelle

Many books, particularly textbooks, are not for sale to libraries as e-books, even if they are available to individuals. Normally. print textbooks would be available for a two-hour loan period through the University Libraries’ Course Reserves. Unfortunately, the Libraries’ ability to provide this service is limited during the pandemic because of necessary materials quarantining periods. Although libraries employees hope to make some print course materials available in the future for a 24-hour loan via curbside or walk-up pickup, those details have not yet been determined. 

If at all possible, the University Libraries administration encourages University instructors to assign materials already freely available online or licensed through the University Libraries catalog to help minimize Penn State students’ textbook expenses. 

University Libraries personnel can assist instructors in locating textbook alternatives from both existing libraries e-resources and open educational resources (OER), and assist in placing selections of material held by the libraries or provided by instructors through electronic reserves. 

graphic explaining COVID-19 and publisher challenges libraries face and alternatives to providing access to textbooks

Many textbook publishers will not electronic versions of textbooks to libraries. As a result, Penn State University Libraries is not able to buy 75 percent of the digital textbooks on the market. Access to textbooks and video in Penn State University Libraries’ collection during the COVID-19 pandemic is even more challenging than usual, given the need to quarantine materials for 96 hours. Instructors are encouraged to consider alternatives to traditional textbooks, from Open Educational Resources to high-quality streaming video, and can email l-oer-at-penn-state@lists.psu.edu to request help with OER. A transcript of this graphic available for accessibility purposes is available at https://copyright.psu.edu/transcript-of-textbooks-and-the-libraries-image.  Read the related article.

IMAGE: infographic by Rachel Perry

Questions are requested to be directed as follows:

Additional information about e-books and other course materials also is available through an E-books FAQs page for students and instructors

Last Updated July 28, 2020