Navigating Course Material Services at IU Libraries

In response to the ongoing global public health crisis, universities across the country are embracing remote learning models that utilize digital resources. With most instruction occurring virtually, IU students need easily accessible and affordable digital course materials now more than ever. If you are experiencing challenges obtaining course materials, the IU Libraries Scholarly Communication Department provides resources to help instructors in all disciplines find and evaluate digital course materials. 

Student reading a book in the library
Image courtesy of Indiana University.

In a recent video, our graduate assistant Matt Vaughn outlines the options and services that instructors have for selecting course materials. These include:

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are digital course materials that you can legally customize to fit your needs. Open textbooks can help alleviate the burden of textbook costs for students and provide faculty with content that can be customized for their courses and used freely. The library can assist you with finding, evaluating, and creating these freely available materials. To learn more about OER options, explore this resource guide or contact Scholarly Communication Librarian Sarah Hare.

Temporarily Available Academic Resources – In addition to traditional open educational resources, many vendors and publishers are making scholarly content temporarily available for free during the ongoing pandemic. Discover these ever-changing materials here.

Analyzing Resources for Fair Use 

Another option to consider, especially if you normally use a physical book in your course or your students frequently utilize course reserves in person, is fair use. Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. 

Fair use is important if you are considering scanning large portions of a book or journal for your students to access in Canvas. Generally, we recommend that you link to electronic book chapters, but you can upload PDFs of journal articles after you have downloaded them from a library database. IU has resources to help instructors analyze their intended use of copyrighted materials and to make informed decisions about use. For more information, explore this resource guide or contact Naz Pantaloni, Copyright Program Librarian.

Scanning Print Materials

After confirming that copyrighted materials may be used via fair use analysis, the Document Delivery Service unit can help you create digital scans of print materials for Canvas use via the Request Article Delivery program. You can use this service by accessing your Interlibrary Loan (ILL) account and completing the request form.

Finding and Acquiring Library Databases and eBooks

Lastly, IU Libraries may be able to obtain new materials to support your courses. Instructors can request that the Libraries purchase an eBook, a journal subscription, or access to an electronic resource via the Request A Purchase Form. It is important to note that you will need to send students to the eBook publisher’s platform to read these books, and publishers sometimes impose limits on printing and the number of simultaneous users. 

A number of library databases also include media particularly relevant to classroom use. Kanopy, for example, provides access to a wide range of films and documentaries. It can be helpful to discuss eBook and database options with your subject librarian in order to ensure long-term access for your students. 

For more information about these digital resources, visit the IU Libraries services page, contact your subject librarian, or reach out to the Scholarly Communication Department at iusw@indiana.edu.