Course Reserves Policy

 Physical Reserves – Service Definition

The River Campus Libraries Course Reserves Service allows course instructors to identify physical materials for which the Library should provide controlled access during the semester. Placing items on reserve removes them from the general circulating collections and assigns shortened loan periods to ensure availability of high-demand items to the maximum number of borrowers possible. Items are placed on reserve at the request of course instructors and are limited to print and multimedia materials (DVDs, CDs, etc.) used in a course that are in the collection or eligible for addition to the collection. Items are removed from Course Reserves and returned to the regular library collection at the end of the semester during which the course is offered.

Scope of Service:

In order to facilitate access to materials on reserve, course instructors may request that library staff:

  • Place the following item types on reserve at one of the River Campus Libraries Service Desks:
    • items held in the library’s circulating collection
    • high demand non-circulating items in the library collections
    • an instructor’s personal item
    • a physical document, provided by the faculty member
  • Purchase obtainable materials to add to the library collections and place on reserve at one of the River Campus Libraries’ Service desks
  • Reactivate past course reading lists (created Fall 2019 and afterwards) and place items on these lists back on course reserve


Electronic Course Resource Support – Service Definition

The River Campus Libraries can assist instructors with identifying electronic resources used in courses and will ensure, whenever possible, that the library’s licenses for the selected online resources adequately provide access for the number of students enrolled in the course and are being used in compliance with any use limitations associated with the resource licensing.

Library staff will assist instructors in creating stable links to give students access to electronic resources owned or licensed by the library. Additionally, library staff can provide instructors with guidance in storing and providing access to electronic resources not owned by the library. The library cannot commit to storing or archiving materials that are not owned or currently licensed by the library.

Instructors may add electronic readings to Blackboard courses as links or PDFs. The River Campus Libraries strongly encourage faculty to link to resources rather than uploading a PDF in order to ensure copyright compliance. Linking to electronic readings also allows the library to collect accurate usage statistics for our electronic resources, which inform our decision-making processes for the purchase and renewal of subscriptions. Library staff will coordinate with the University IT Blackboard Support team to provide additional support for instructors who require assistance with adding links and course readings to their Blackboard courses.

Scope of Service:

In order to facilitate access to course resources, instructors may request that library staff:

  • Confirm the availability of electronic readings via the library’s current subscriptions and ebook holdings, including confirmation that the licensing agreement will accommodate adequate access for the number of students in the course whenever possible
  • Assist in creating stable URLS to access electronic course resources owned by or licensed by the library
  • Add links to library-owned electronic resources to the list of Course Reserves items viewable through the library catalog
  • Schedule an appointment to consult with their subject area Outreach Librarian to assist in the identification or acquisition of resources to use in support of course curriculum
  • Assist in identifying and gaining access to Open Access resources for use in courses
  • Facilitate a referral to the University IT Blackboard Support Team for consultation and assistance adding links to course readings to courses


Request Submission Guidelines

Requests for Physical Reserves

In order to ensure efficient processing of requests, The River Campus Libraries only accepts Course Reserves requests via electronic submission (online form or email).

Online Form

The preferred method for this is the use of our Online Form. Citations for items should include title, author, edition, year, call number, and format.


Course Reserve Requests may also be submitted via email to Requests submitted via email should include:

  • Course Title
  • Course Number (eg. ENG 101)
  •  Instructor Name
  • Instructor Email
  • Year and Semester of Course
  • Library Where Reserve Items Should be Shelved
  • Full Citations for Physical Items to place in reserve, including title, author, call number, edition, year, call number, and format.

Requests missing complete citations may take additional time to process.

Submission Deadlines

To guarantee Course Reserve materials are ready for access by the first day of classes, requests must be submitted four weeks prior to the beginning of the semester. All requests will be processed on a first come, first served basis, with every effort being made to have them available for use as soon as possible.

The time required to process reserve requests varies with the workload of the unit, the availability of materials, and the accuracy of the information supplied. Most requests submitted during periods of lower demand (such as mid-semester) will be filled within seven business days, but additional time may be required for items that need to be recalled or purchased.

Course Resource List Reactivation Requests

Instructors may request the reactivation of course reserve lists for courses taught from the Fall 2019 semester onward. Requests for reactivation should be sent via email to at least four weeks before the beginning of the semester.

When a reactivation request is received, library staff will contact the course instructor to verify the list of resources is accurate.  Once confirmed, Library staff will move the physical materials to the Course Reserves collection and re-enable temporary circulation restrictions. Materials on these reading lists will display in the list of Course Reserves items viewable through the library catalog. Please note that reactivation of course reading lists does not cause the reading list or links to resources to display in the Blackboard course.

Required and Recommended Materials

Library staff may request instructors with lengthy or complex reserve lists limit their lists to required materials when constraints on reserve space and staff time make fulfillment of requests difficult.

When a syllabus or reading list is submitted, Library Staff will attempt to place all required materials on reserve. Recommended materials may also be placed on reserve at the request of the instructor, but will not be prioritized for processing and may take longer to be added to the reserves collection.

Reserves Locations

The River Campus Libraries maintain reserve collections in all library locations. In general, the preferred reserve location for library materials is the library where most of the subject materials are held (the owning library), unless a different location is more convenient for the class or instructor. Audiovisual reserve materials are maintained in the Art and Music Library.

Circulation of Reserve Items

By default, items on Course Reserve circulate for a period of 3 hours for films and 2 hours for all other materials. Alternatively, instructors may request materials circulate under one of the following additional options: 3 hours, 1 day, 3 days, 7 days. Course Reserve materials carry an overdue fine rate of $1 per hour overdue for hourly loans, and $1 per day for daily and weekly loans with a maximum of $30 per item.

At the end of each semester, physical materials on reserve will be moved back to the circulating collection and their normal circulation rules will be restored.

Personal Copies

Instructors may submit personal items to be placed on reserve with the understanding that they will be processed for use (which may include application of labels) and that the library is not responsible for their loss or damage. Library staff will attempt to acquire copies of these items for the library collection whenever possible. When a copy of the same title is purchased for the library’s collection, this copy will be placed on reserve and the instructor’s personal copy will be returned to them.


In order to maintain compliance with copyright restrictions, instructors must supply all photocopies of copyrighted material, including a complete citation for the resource. Instructors should provide only as many copies as are absolutely required to meet the demands of the class. This has been widely defined as one copy for every twenty students except in extraordinary cases.

No more than one chapter of any given book may be photocopied and placed on reserves, although multiple copies of a single chapter or excerpt may be placed on reserve.

It is illegal for the library to repeatedly place the same photocopies on reserve each semester. Therefore, the library will return all photocopies to the instructor at the end of each semester.

Purchase Requests

Materials included in a Course Reserves request that are not already part of the River Campus Libraries’ collection will be ordered for the library collection whenever possible.

Instructors may also contact either Course Reserves Staff or their Outreach Librarian to request the purchase of materials for a course.

Items purchased for course reserves will be given priority in the library’s acquisitions process, but may take longer to obtain and prepare for reserves than items already in the library’s collections.


Requests for Electronic Resource Support

Instructors may contact either Course Reserves Staff or their Outreach Librarian to request support for acquiring or accessing electronic resources. Library staff will facilitate the provision of services outlined above in the Electronic Course Resource Support section of this policy, either through the River Campus Libraries, or through collaboration with other University of Rochester departments.

To include electronic materials owned or licensed by the River Campus Libraries on the list of Course Reserves items viewable through the library catalog, instructors should request this on the online submission form or via email. Including electronic resources on the library catalog’s reading list will not cause links to the resources to automatically display in Blackboard. Links to online resources must be added to the Blackboard interface by a course instructor.


Copyright Compliance

Materials may be placed on reserve through the University libraries only in accordance with the University of Rochester Copyright Policy.  Faculty members, instructors or other authorized personnel should carefully review any copyrighted material to be used and determine whether they need to seek permission from the copyright owner. Materials will not be put on course reserves without the copyright owner’s permission unless the fair use factors are met, or unless some other legal exception to the permission requirement applies.

The following rules also apply:

  •  All use of materials placed on electronic reserves will be at the initiative of faculty solely for the non-commercial, educational use of students.
  • Materials to be copied or scanned for electronic reserves will be in legal possession by the library or the faculty member (by purchase, license, fair use, etc.) or some other unit of the University.
  • There will be no charge for access. The charge for copies made by students will be limited to the nominal cost of photocopies or laser prints.
  • Any copyright notice on the original material must be included in the material copied or scanned. Appropriate citations and attributions to source must also be included.
  • When possible links to sites where material already is legally available (e.g., article databases) will be used instead of scanning or making a digital copy.
  • To the extent applicable and feasible, use of copyrighted materials on class web pages, in coursepacks, or otherwise outside the course reserve system should follow the above rules.


Related Services

Library Staff can assist instructors in obtaining additional course support services related to, but not included in, the Course Reserves service. Instructors may direct requests for these services to Course Reserves Staff or their Outreach Librarian, who will assist with the request or facilitate a referral to a partner department as appropriate.

Librarian Consultation

The Outreach Librarians of the River Campus Libraries are happy to assist instructors in a range of course planning activities, including selecting resources used in courses, determining availability of these resources, and obtaining access to course resources.

Blackboard Support

Instructors requiring assistance with course building or adding resources in Blackboard may contact the University IT Blackboard support team. Library staff are happy to assist in connecting instructors with these support services and help instructors communicate their needs regarding access to library materials with the Blackboard Support Team.

Captioning and Transcription of Course Materials

Instructors who have received a Request for Accommodation from a student enrolled in their class may request that audio and video files required for a class be captioned or transcribed. The River Campus Libraries have coordinated with the University of Rochester’s Office of Disability Resources to provide this service, and library staff may consult with staff in this office to determine the most effective way to provide student accommodations.

Service Guidelines:

  •  Requests for captioning and transcription can be directed to the Course Reserves Staff at or to the Office of Disability Resources, which will make any necessary referrals to our service.
  • Captions may be added to videos either submitted to the library as a video file (mp4, avi, wmv, etc.) or hosted on YouTube. Other online video hosting services are not compatible with the services provided by our transcription and captioning vendor, 3Play Media. Captions can not be added to videos available only in physical formats such as DVD or VHS.
  • Transcription of audio files requires the submission of an audio file (mp3, wav, wma, etc). We are unable to transcribe hosted audio content or audio available only in physical formats such as CDs.
  • This service is currently limited to course materials and does not extend to the captioning or transcription of lectures or class presentations.
  • Requests for captioning or transcription may take up to 7 days to process. Instructors are encouraged to submit requests in a timely manner.
  • Once transcription or captioning is complete, library staff will send the instructor a link to the captioned video and/or a PDF version of the transcription, depending on the needs of the requesting student.