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Course reserves FAQ

How soon can I request reserves for an upcoming class?

Our staff begin processing requests for upcoming semesters midway through the current semester. You can submit requests before then, but they will not be processed immediately. Reserves become active and available beginning on the first day of the semester.

MIT Libraries has a digital copy of an article/chapter that I want to make available as a class reading – how do I do this?

We recommend that you post a link to the article/chapter, rather than uploading it. See link to articles online for tips (students may need to authenticate for access). Alternately, most of our subscriptions also allow course readings to be directly uploaded into a course site.

If the Libraries has a physical copy, you can request a scan of an article/chapter – see scanning requests for course reserves. You are responsible for determining that assigned readings can be provided in compliance with copyright law – see electronic course reserves guidelines.

If you have further questions, contact the Libraries’ scholarly communications team at Ask Scholarly Communications.

What if MIT Libraries doesn’t have a digital copy?

You can request an article/chapter through Interlibrary Borrowing (ILB) via ILLiad – see “make a new request” in the ILLiad lefthand menu. For more information, see the library’s Interlibrary Borrowing web page.

If you’re already in an article database such as Web of Science, look for the “Get this at MIT” button, then choose the option for “Request via ILB/Illiad.”

If you need more than one chapter or a whole e-book, you can suggest a purchase. Availability depends on publishers and distributors.

I’m uploading my own copies of articles/chapters. How do I make sure I’m in compliance with copyright and intellectual property laws?

See electronic course reserves guidelines section on fair use guidance. If you have further questions, contact our scholarly communications team at Ask Scholarly Communications.

Can I put a physical copy of a book on reserve?

If physical books are important for your teaching, email our course reserves team at and we’ll put a physical copy on reserve if available. If you don’t request a physical format, we’ll default to providing digital copy if available, in accordance with our digital-first practice.

Please note that while we can put textbooks on reserve, we cannot put workbooks on reserve due to fair use restrictions on consumable materials.

Can I upload a large portion of a book?

If your course readings include a substantial portion of an entire book, we may not be able to provide a copy for upload within the bounds of copyright law. Instead, consider making the book required reading via MIT Coop AIP (Adoption Ingest Portal). The Libraries will automatically purchase a digital copy if available, or a print copy for physical reserves.

Alternatively, you can use suggest a purchase to request an e-book if available. E-books can be linked from the course site – see link to articles online for tips (students may need to authenticate for access).

Textbooks that I need are expensive and I understand that open resources may be available. Can you help me identify these?

If you want to use Open Educational Resources (OER) as alternatives to expensive textbooks, contact your subject librarian. Here are some useful links:

Are library services different for required readings and recommended readings?

Yes. MIT Libraries automatically adds a copy of every required reading to course reserves. We do not automatically add recommended readings. If you would like to put a recommended reading on reserve, you must make a specific request by sending an email to

I have a personal copy of an item I’d like to put on reserve – can the library handle that for me?

The Libraries can buy books that will be heavily used. If necessary, however, we can accept personal copies for course reserves. Please bring the item to the library service desk where you would like the item to be placed on reserve. It can take 5-10 business days to process an item. The MIT Libraries cannot be held responsible for personal copies that are lost or damaged.

If I’m the author of a book, can I put it on reserve?

This depends on the contract with your publisher. The MIT Libraries can work with you to make the book available to students. Please contact Ask Scholarly Communications.

I want to use an older, out of print text as a required reading. How would I get this on reserve?

Please email and ask that it be put on reserve. If we don’t own it already, we’ll try to purchase it.

My question is not addressed here. Who can I contact for help?