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Course Reserves & TIP FAQ: Students

Information about the Libraries' course reserves service and MIT's TIP (Textbook Information Provisioning) service

COVID-19 Reserves Update

Because of the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19 for MIT’s Fall semester, significant changes have been made to the course reserves service to better support the largely online environment. Please find more information on these changes here and our guide to electronic resources general collection here.

Search Course Reserves


Stellar Site

Go to your course's Stellar site:  

Contact us

Have questions?  Contact us at:

What are Course Reserves?

Reserves are materials and resources that professors have identified to use for a credit-bearing 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 uploaded to a course’s Stellar or Canvas site. Access is limited to students enrolled in the course.

What's on reserve at the library?

The reserve collection includes books, videos, CDs, and any other materials an instructor has requested we set aside for a class. Some professors may provide course readers or problem set solutions to the library to place on the reserve as well.
No. Textbooks are placed on reserve at the request of the course faculty or TA. If your course textbooks are not on reserve, ask your professor or TA to submit the information through the Semester Books Submission Form or Faculty Enlight.
No. The libraries only have course readers if professors give them to us.
An item may occasionally be listed as in the "Reserve Stacks" in Barton, our online catalog, when in fact it is not currently being used for a class. This normally happens in the weeks leading up to the start of classes, and immediately after the end of the term. Ask at the library service desk to see if an item listed as on reserve is indeed a current reserve item.


Print reserves are held behind the service desk of each library. You can find the library for your class by looking it up in Barton.

Request reserve materials by call number at the library service desk and present your MIT ID to borrow them.

  • You can look up the call number for a reserve item using the Course Reserves search on the Libraries' homepage.
  • For course readers and other material without a call number, give the course number and professor's name to the staff at the desk.
You can borrow as many reserve items as you want. However, keep in mind that most items will only circulate for 2 hours, and that other students may want to see the materials as well.

Generally, you can borrow reserve books for 2 hours, and DVDs for 4 hours. This shortened time limit is to give everyone in the class a chance to see the materials.

Some materials may circulate for longer periods; check with the library service desk for details.

Most reserve materials can be taken out of the library.

If you borrow or renew a reserve item within 2 hours of the library closing (or 4 hours for videos), you can keep it overnight until 1 hour after the library opens the next day. Check the library hours.

At the Lewis Music Library, books, scores, CDs, and DVDs may be borrowed overnight 2 hours prior to closing. Ask the desk staff for assistance.

No, reserves are available on a first come, first served basis. However, if a reserve item you want to borrow is currently checked out, contact the library service desk to block renewals of that item.

Renew & return

Yes, you may renew most reserve materials up to 3 times through Your Account or by contacting the library service desk where you checked them out. However, if another student is waiting to use the material, it may not be renewed.

No, reserve items must be returned to the library service desk where they were borrowed. Items returned to other libraries can take up to two days to get back to their proper location, and during that time, they are unavailable for others to borrow.

When the library is closed, you may return reserves to the book return outside the library where you borrowed them. However, if an item is large or fragile, please return it to the library service desk if possible.

You will be charged a fine of $2.00 per hour (including any portion of an hour) if a reserve item is returned late. There is a short grace period before the fines begin to accrue.

Get electronic reserves

Log into your class's Stellar site and click Materials.
When the Libraries post a reading on Stellar or link to an electronic resource, we restrict access to comply with copyright law and licensing restrictions. Fair Use provisions of the copyright law allow use of copyrighted materials on a limited basis for specific purposes without the permission of the copyright holder. Additionally, some electronic resources are restricted by license agreements that limit use.
  • When you log into Stellar, be sure to choose the "MIT Kerberos account (or MIT web certificate)" option.
  • If you're a cross-registered student, register for a Kerberos ID; don't use the Touchstone Collaboration Account option to log into Stellar.