Increasing academic accessibility for our students involves making good choices about the materials assigned to them. 

Course Materials Critical for Your Students to Have

In anticipation of each new semester, consider how much your course materials cost your students and how you might mitigate those costs by selecting readings or other materials that can be accessed at low or no cost. Do students need to acquire a personal copy of each critical material or would sharing a copy or borrowing a copy from the library work just fine? If they can borrow a material, you will need to contact the Library.

Does the College Library own copies of each book you are assigning?

Yes, the library owns all my critical course materials.

  • Put the books on reserve: A few weeks before Week 1 of the semester put those books on reserve. When you find your assigned books in Library Search and click on the button to “put on course reserve,” the library staff will take it from there. 
  • Make enough reserve copies available:
    • If only one Library copy is available: If only one physical copy of each assigned book exists in our library, consider spending department funds, your own funds, or library funds to purchase an additional copy that can also go on reserve. 
    • Putting your or departmental copies on reserve for a semester: If you have extra copies of an assigned book or supplementary books you or your department would like to add to the library’s reserve collection just for the upcoming semester, bring those materials to the Circulation Desk and complete a simple form there to get them entered into the reserve system. 

Putting library copies or your own additional copies of required books on reserve instead of loaning them to individual students for a long period of time expands access to a larger number of students who might need them.

No, the library doesn’t own all my critical course materials.

  • Request the Library purchase the materials: As soon as possible, make a quick request for the library to purchase the books you are assigning. If a book is important enough for you to assign to your students, it is important enough to be a part of our library’s permanent collection. You can signal on that purchase form just how quickly you need the book to arrive, and you can arrange to have the book placed on reserve for your course immediately. Our library colleagues make this acquisition process very easy.

Acquiring Alternative Formats 

Ask the Library if they can acquire alternative formats: In addition to reserving the print copy of the book you are assigning, why not ask the library to acquire as well an electronic version of it, if one exists. That way, even more of your students can access a reserve copy when needed. 

Guide to open access sources: For books and other resources that are open-access (accessible through a free, web-based repository), the library has created a helpful guide. For guidance on using open-access or Open Educational Resources, please contact Kellam Ayres, Library Liaison and Open Education Specialist.

Is a full material critical to assign or only sections?

Consult Library Staff on options for sections of materials: Do your assignments involve students reading entire books? Or are you limiting the reading to a few chapters? Depending on the size of the reading assignment and the copyright rules, our library staff may be able to scan and share via Canvas or other platforms just the pages that you need your students to digest, making students’ purchase of a whole book unnecessary. This digitizing process is time-consuming, so please budget in ample time for the staff to complete this work in advance of your reading assignment.

Sharing Journal Articles

Posting to Course Hub or Canvas: Journal articles and other sources that are in subscription-based databases can be downloaded and posted to your Course Hub site or your course Canvas site, so that your students can find them easily and at no additional cost. 

Interlibrary Loan: Additionally, Interlibrary Loan allows faculty to acquire articles that are beyond Middlebury’s paid databases so that those readings can also be posted on course websites free of charge to students.

Making Media Materials Available

The same borrowing principle applies to media materials. The library can help you and your students access them affordably. Before requiring students to pay for films, please consult the library’s streaming resources and guidance.

Having materials on reserve increases economic accessibility and teaches students how to utilize the Library services.

Accessing books on reserve not only reduces costs for students, but it also compels them to engage in a foundational academic skill: learning how to use the library’s circulation services. Borrowing reserve materials and returning them upon a deadline may well lead students to appreciate what Americans have come to understand since Benjamin Franklin founded the country’s first lending library: knowledge can be acquired without wealth, but it requires sharing and a little legwork.

If you have further questions about selecting affordable course materials, please contact Amy Morsman or Jennifer Bates at

Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research
Davis Family Library, Suite 225
Middlebury, VT 05753