Policy UL-AD18 Course Reserves

Main Policy Content


  • Purpose
  • Background Information
    • Definition
    • Purpose
    • Types
  • Guidelines for Implementation
    • Copyright and Electronic Reserves
    • Copyright and Photocopy Reserves
    • Copyright and Streaming Audio
    • Streaming Video
    • E-Books
  • Cross References
  • Additional References


To state the University Libraries' position on course reserves.



Library course reserves are materials selected by faculty to support their class assignments.  Materials are owned by either the Libraries or the instructor.  Library materials are usually moved from the general collection to the course reserve location and available for restricted loan while specific courses are in session.   Instructor-owned materials no longer needed for course reserve are returned to the instructor.  Library-owned materials are returned to the original collection.


The purpose of library course reserves is to make a limited number of copies of high-demand materials available to multiple users within a narrowly defined group of users, typically students.  Materials may be placed on course reserve for University courses, seminars, and other instructional groups, but always at the request of faculty.

All materials placed on course reserve are acquired by the Libraries for non-profit, educational use by members of the Penn State community and with the understanding that individual copies will be made available to multiple users.  With journals, the Penn State University Libraries frequently must pay a premium institutional subscription price, which may be many times an individual subscription price, for the privilege of supporting multiple academic users.


Library course reserves typically fall within two broad categories:

  • Traditional reserves – may include physical books, journals, photocopies of exams or course syllabi, video and audio media.
  • Electronic/digital reserves – may include electronic formats such as scanned .pdf, .html, .doc, .ppt and streaming audio and video files.


In general, copyright is a concern whenever copyrighted materials are reproduced without authorization by the rightsholder in any physical or digital format.

Copyright and Electronic (Text-based) Reserves:

  • Electronic reserves is an extension of traditional print-based library services and will be provided in a manner that respects fair use rights, the rights of copyright holders, and current copyright law.
  • All materials will be placed on reserve at the request of faculty only for the noncommercial, educational use of students.
  • All materials placed on reserve will be reproduced from copies lawfully obtained by either the requesting faculty member or the library.
  • Only limited amounts of copyrighted material may be reproduced for reserve.  In general, limits on materials placed on electronic reserve are 15% of any single monograph or two articles from any single issue of a journal.  Requests for materials in excess of these limits may be refused by the Libraries.
  • Students will not be charged for access to reserve materials.  The charge for copies made by students will be limited to the cost of reproduction.
  • All files will include a complete citation and notice of copyright as the first page indicating that they may be subject to copyright restrictions.
  • Authentication via IP address and University ID and password will be required for access to reserve files.  Readings will be accessible only by course number, course name or instructor name.
  • Licensed full-text or electronic audio resources will be used in place of reproducing copyrighted material whenever possible.

Permission will be sought for text-based materials used in subsequent courses by the same instructor for the same course.  The University Libraries will request permission for all materials through the Copyright Clearance Center when necessary.  

Copyright and Photocopy Reserves:

The University Libraries is committed to complying with all applicable laws regarding intellectual property, including the full exercise of the rights accorded under the "Fair Use" provision of the 1976 Copyright Act. For electronic reserves, a comprehensive and central reporting process exists to monitor copyright status and to seek permission and pay royalties when necessary. Because no such monitoring process exists for photocopy reserves, such photocopies must be limited to materials for which permission is implicitly provided (e.g. sample exams, syllabi, and class notes created by the instructor requesting reserve service), or for which permission is unnecessary (i.e. public domain materials). Even in these cases, physical photocopies should only be placed on reserve in circumstances when electronic reserve is not a viable option.

Copyright and Streaming Audio:

In addition to a variety of licensed digital audio content, the Music and Media Center offers a service to reproduce audio recordings in digital streaming format for course reserve. This service is provided in accordance with the Statement on the Digital Transmission of Electronic Reserves issued by the Music Library Association. Authentication via IP address and University ID and password is required for access to audio reserve files.


As with streaming video, the library licenses a wide variety of e-books that may be placed on course reserve and will purchase e-book licenses if available upon request. Before placing an e-book on reserve, however, staff should review the resource license terms and user interface to identify potential issues that may limit simultaneous access by multiple users or restrict downloading and printing. Acquisitions and Serial services staff can provide license terms. Any access or usability restrictions should be discussed with the requesting instructor before placing an e-book on reserve.

Copyright is not a concern when using UL licensed e-books. E-books purchased by instructors for personal use on e-book readers, tablets, etc. should not be placed on course reserve.


Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced especially the following: 

UL-ADG11 -- Copyright Guidelines for Electronic Reserves (staff only)


Course Reserves Services

Effective Date: December 11, 2006
Date Approved: June 17, 2013 (Dean's Library Council)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • June 17, 2013 -- Revised to include Photocopy Reserves, Streaming Audio, Streaming, Video and E-Books.
  • December 11, 2006 – New policy

Last Review Date:  June, 2013