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Faculty FAQ: Course Reserves

Library services available to faculty.

What are Course Reserves?

Reserves are materials and resources that professors have identified to use for a class. They can be either print or electronic.

  • Print reserves are books and audiovisual materials that have been set aside for a class at a specific library. Please note: print reserves will be unavailable for Fall 2020, more information can be found here
  • Electronic reserves are materials that have been scanned and provided to be uploaded to a course’s Stellar or Canvas site. Access is limited to students enrolled in the course.

General questions about course reserves

The MIT Libraries offer print and electronic reserve services.

  • We can place books, CDs, DVDs, and other material on reserve at the library. Students can generally borrow these materials for 2 hours (books) or 4 hours (videos), and renew them up to 3 times as long as another student isn't waiting to use them.
  • We can scan articles or chapters from a journal or book and upload them to your Stellar site, as long as the request falls within Fair Use copyright guidelines. See Using Copyrighted Content.
  • Requests to digitize other materials (e.g., images and audio) are considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact
  • Library staff determine whether an item is best placed on reserve in the library or on electronic reserve based on the course requirement for the material and the portion of the entire work assigned for the course. Materials are not processed for both in library reserves and electronic reserves.
Submit your textbook and course reserve request through the Semester Books Submission Form. The information you submit will be sent to the Libraries for course reserves and the Coop for textbook purchases. The information will be available in the Online Course Listing after The Coop and/or Libraries finalize your order.

To meet the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) federal mandates on textbooks, course reserve and textbook information, you need to submit your requests prior to pre-registration:

  • May 1 for the Fall and Summer terms
  • December 1 for Spring and IAP terms

Additional items can be put on reserve anytime after the pre-registration deadline, or during the semester.

  • To update your reserve only and e-reserves lists, or if you have questions about course reserves, email
  • To update your required and recommended materials list, email
  • To check on textbook availability at the MIT Coop, email the COOP at or call 617-499-3231.
  • To update your reserve only and e-reserves lists, or if you have questions about course reserves, email
  • To update your required and recommended materials list, email
  • To check on textbook availability at the MIT Coop, email the COOP at or call 617-499-3231.

Most requests are generally processed within 1-2 business days, but may take up to 5 business days. All reserves requested by the pre-registration deadline will normally be available before the beginning of the semester.

We encourage you to submit reserve requests as soon as possible to ensure that material is available to students when they need it.

However, there are a few exceptions:

  • For electronic reserves, the library cannot post materials until you have created a Stellar site for the class. Request a Stellar site through IS&T.
  • Requests for a large number of materials may be completed in batches, with materials needed for the beginning of the semester scanned or placed on reserve first, followed by other materials.
  • If the library does not own a book and we need to order it, it may take 4-6 weeks for the book to arrive.
  • Around the beginning of the term and after the semester begins, items may take longer to be processed. If a book is checked out and needs to be recalled, for example, it may take 8-10 business days for us to receive the book.
  • Submit a syllabus or reading list on page 3 of the Semester Books Submission form.
  • Clearly indicate which readings should be scanned and which should be placed on print reserves.
  • Include the author(s), title, publication year, edition, ISBN, and if possible, call number.
  • If an item needs to be scanned, make sure the required page numbers are marked, and indicate which section of the Stellar site we should post the completed scan to.
  • Indicate the date by which materials need to be uploaded to Stellar or placed on print reserve. This information helps us prioritize our work during busy periods.

Due to copyright restrictions we can only scan 10% or one chapter of a book (depending on the work), or 1 article from a journal issue. Materials that exceed these limitations can be placed on print reserve at the library.

The library cannot scan articles from a course reader for electronic reserves because copyright permissions have already been paid for the articles and scanning them will violate fair use. Instead, we suggest that you contact us at with a list of articles prior to ordering a course reader so that we can scan articles that comply with fair use guidelines.

If you've already ordered a course reader, you may provide a personal copy of the course reader to place on print reserve at the library. The library cannot purchase course readers as they are prohibitively expensive and used for only one semester.

Fair use restrictions prohibit the Libraries from placing "consumables" on reserve, e.g. workbooks.

Books from non-MIT libraries cannot be placed on print reserve. If you would like a book placed on reserve that the library does not own, you may drop off a personal copy of the book or we can order it. Book orders can take up to 6 weeks, so the earlier we get your request, the better.