With the rising cost of textbooks, many instructors are redesigning their courses to be textbook-free or low-cost. An important part of this process is reviewing the licensed materials (periodicals, eBooks, online videos) that librarians have purchased for you and your students to use.
- Does the material adequately address the course objectives?
- Does the material provide enough scope, background information and connection between concepts?
- Can I locate enough high-quality material on the subject?
- Can I locate a single source as a textbook replacement or will I need to combine a variety of sources to reproduce information covered in a traditional textbook?
- Has the material been used in other college-level courses? Reviewed by peers/academics?
- Have I verified that I’m using legally available material?
- Am I duplicating or reproducing material that is under copyright by mistake?
- Does the format of the material suit the needs of my students?
- Will students be able to print out materials (legally and logistically) if desired?
- Does the format or availability of the materials comply with the ADA?
Printable Checklist (PDF)
Most traditional textbooks that are used in CCV and Vermont Tech courses are not available in the library collection or available as eBooks through library databases. The Hartness Library Collection Development Policy states that:
“Items that all students in a class will be required to use at the same time, that cannot be legally copied
or rebroadcast under “fair use” provisions of the copyright law, are considered textbook-type
materials; the library cannot acquire class sets of such materials. Students must acquire
The library’s eBook databases may, on occasion, include a traditional or supplemental-type textbook that has been licensed for multiple-user access or has been made available for that purpose by the publisher. For the most part, we are not able to negotiate with eTextbook vendors to make specific titles available or purchase access to titles that publishers have established as textbooks. The library may consider purchasing these within the guidelines of our Collection Development Policy.
Most traditional textbooks provide “big picture” concepts and some of the synthesis between those concepts. If you are considering replacing your traditional textbook with open access materials or library eBooks, then using encyclopedias, subject dictionaries and other reference works may provide some of this top-level or introductory information. These sources provide excellent entries for definitions, terminology, historical overviews, etc… and are typically one paragraph to one-page in length. A full list of our reference databases is on the Encyclopedias & Reference Works page of the library website but we suggest starting with these collections depending on the length and scope of the material needed:
There are also encyclopedias and reference eBooks in our EBSCO databases – this link to a search for the term encyclopedia is a good way to see what is available. Add a broad search term (e.g. psychology, history, law) to that search to explore further titles by dicipline. You can also run a search using the word dictionary in the EBSCO collections listed in the section about eBooks below.
When you locate an eBook or eBook chapter you want to use, first verify the number of users who can access the eBook simultaneously – eBooks housed in the EBSCO databases may have a limited number of users, but eBooks from other databases (ScienceDirect, JSTOR, Very Short Introductions) have an unlimited number of simultaneous users. The Table of Contents is an easy way to see a chapter list or scan for relevant sections to use in a course. The Permalink that is provided in the Tools menu can be used to connect students to the whole eBook or, once you have clicked inside a specific eBook, to link students to a specific page. Here is an example of what those features look like for an eBook housed in an EBSCO database and there is additional information about bookmarks and permalinks below.
If the eBook has a limited number of users, it may not work as a required course text. Here is a list of databases that provide unlimited user access to eBooks:
You can search for specific periodicals by title and link students to individual newspapers, magazines, or academic journals. There are also suggested or featured periodicals on the library’s Subject Guides.
As with the eBooks above, you need to use Permalinks for articles and videos to make sure your links remain stable and to comply with copyright restrictions. Review the information about permalinks and bookmarks below.
(Select “VSC Login – CCV & Vermont Tech Faculty & Staff”. Please note that users will need to use or create an EBSCO account to use some features of this resource.)
Printing & Duplicating
Students can print out chapters and sections of library-owned eBooks, but not entire eBooks. Faculty members intending to photocopy pages for classroom use need to review Fair Use guidelines and the considerations of brevity, spontaneity and cumulative effect.
Help from Librarians
Librarians can help you search for potential replacements or supplemental materials for your course. Contact your Academic Program Liaison Librarian for recommended library databases, open access materials/OER and search strategies to make sure you have explored all that may be available. You can see suggested library materials and OER by subject area through our Subject Guides. Librarians can also help you test permalinks and bookmarks to the material to make sure you are connecting your students to the content in the way that supports Fair Use.