FAQ: Online Course Reserves (eReserves)

JHU Library Policies

What is the JHU Library policy regarding resources and permissions?

The Sheridan Libraries’ Reserves Office has worked with the library administration and JHU General Council to develop their policy on how to manage the use of educational resources within online courses. This policy is comprised of two considerations: licensing agreements with journal/database licensers and fair use policy.

Many of the licenses the library holds with the various journal/databases require that all resources be hosted on the library servers. This means that embedding a PDF of a journal article in a course is technically in breach of our licensing agreement. Any resource that is part of the library databases should be hosted on library servers, with fair use policy being the only exception.

Fair use policy, as determined by JHU General Council, applies to resources not available in the library databases. Typically, this means that fair use policy only applies to non-textbook book chapters, organization/association reports (where paid membership is not required), and video content.

What does the Reserves Office do?

The Reserves Office is responsible for obtaining and providing access to resources in university courses. For online courses, this occurs in the form of eReserves or “electronic reserves.” As part of their services, the Reserves Office can process all resource requests for a course to ensure copyright, licensing, and fair use compliance. The Reserve Office staff can coordinate obtaining resources not in the library database collections by requesting interlibrary loans or purchasing materials. In addition, the Reserves Office works with the Office of Institutional Equity to provide resources needed for transcription or other student accommodation.

The Reserves Office can also seek permission to use a resource when it falls outside the bounds of our licensing or fair use policy. For example, if an instructor wanted to use more than 15% of a book, or an organizational report that requires a paid membership, the Reserves Office can work with the rights holder to reach an agreement and pay any fee that may be required for access.

Fair Use Resources

What resources can I embed in my course (PDFs and other files)?

You can embed resources directly in your course that follow fair use policy. Typically this consists only of non-textbook book chapters and videos:

  • Book chapters (other than the textbook)

    Under fair use policy, PDFs of book chapters may be included in a course as long as the amount does not exceed 15% of the book’s total page count. The Reserves Office can obtain these PDFs for you and place them on the eReserves page or you can obtain and place them in the course yourself. To include more than 15% of a book’s total page count, you should use eReserves. Refer to the eReserves area below for more information.

  • Videos

    YouTube videos or videos on other public hosting sites can be linked to or embedded in the course, as long as they are on the author/producer’s own page. If you are unsure of whether a video is on an appropriate page, the Reserves Office can research and make this distinction for you if you provide it as a resource in the eReserves request.

    • DVD video clips can be embedded in the course using fair use policy guidelines. For feature films, no more than two minutes can be used. For an educational resource with multiple videos, no more than 15% of the total length of the entire DVD can be used. To use DVD video clips, the library must have an institutional copy of the DVD. To verify, include the DVD on the eReserves list and the Reserves Office will verify that there is an institutional copy, or acquire one if not. For video use over the fair use policy limit, the Reserves Office may seek permission from the video rights holder or investigate access through one of the library’s subscription commercial streaming video services.

    • Note: The library does not currently offer streaming capability so Engineering for Professionals will have to stream all DVD video content. Please contact the Engineering for Professionals Help Desk at ep-help-desk@jhu.edu for help with this.

Can I embed a PDF of a chapter of the course textbook?

Textbook chapters should not be provided to students in any form, as all students should purchase the assigned textbook. Posting PDFs of textbook chapters may encourage students to not purchase the book, thus interfering with copyright law. If there are worries about students not receiving a textbook in time for Module 1 assignments, instructors may post a PDF of the textbook chapters for Module 1 only.

What resources can I link to in my course?

Resources publicly available on the Internet are suitable for linking in a course. This includes external websites and reports published by the government, organizations, or professional associations which do not require membership for access.

  • Websites
    External websites that host content such as blog posts, web articles, and other web content can be linked to within the course. These resources do not require the use of eReserves. However, you should only link to these resources and not embed a PDF in the course. 
    • Note: Linking to a PDF of a journal article that is hosted on subscription web servers does not fall into this guideline. Those resources must go through the eReserves service.
  • Reports
    Governmental reports or reports from a .org organization typically fall in the public domain and can be provided in a course outside of eReserves. Link to the page on the government or organizational website where the report resides, rather than directly to the report itself. 
    • Professional association reports may require membership, free or otherwise. These reports are best handled through eReserves, as the Reserves Office can coordinate any fee that may be required for access. If no membership is required, link to the page on the association website where the report resides, rather than directly to the report itself.


What is eReserves?

eReserves at JHU is a tool integrated with Canvas that is designed to deliver course materials in electronic format to enrolled students in a stable environment. Online courses should utilize eReserves to provide access to resources, unless they fall under fair use or can be linked to using the guidance provided in the Fair Use Resources section.

What resources need to go through eReserves?

If a resource is not covered by fair use policy, it should be requested for use through eReserves. This means that the following resources will need to be requested through eReserves:

  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters in excess of 15% of the source book’s total length
    • Modest amounts in excess of fair use (up to 35% of a book): Reserve staff will query the Copyright Clearance Center (or the publisher) for permission to scan; success rate is about 85% of requests.
    • Greater amounts in excess of fair use (up to 50% of a book): Reserve staff will consider a Copyright Clearance Center query if the book is out of print or very expensive for student purchase.
    • 50% or more of a book: This cannot be provided through eReserves (or embedded as a PDF in a course). Students will need to purchase this book.
  • eBooks not contained in the JHU eBook database
  • Organization or professional association reports that require membership for access
  • Videos that fall outside fair use guidelines

How can I and my students access eReserves?

Users may access eReserves for courses they are enrolled in at ares.library.jhu.edu/shib. In addition, an eReserves link is provided in the course menu of the Canvas classroom.

Note: Firefox and Chrome are the recommended browsers for accessing eReserves. If you have issues accessing eReserves, please refer to the Reserves Office’s eReserve Access Guidelines or contact them at reserves@jhu.edu.

Do I need to seek permission to use resources in eReserves?

No, the Reserves Office will seek permission for any applicable resource. This is part of the awesome service they provide! If there are any issues with finding a resource or obtaining permission, the Reserves Office will notify the instructional designer or instructor.

What if my resource is not in the JHU Libraries?

The Reserves Office can locate, purchase, or otherwise obtain resources that are not available in the Sheridan Libraries. Please refer to the following for more information on specific types of resources:

  • Books: Any book requested for course reserves and not owned by the JHU Library will be ordered and added to the collection. This process may take up to four weeks for in-print domestic books and longer for out-of-print and non-domestic books.
  • Articles: Journal articles requested from sources for which the Sheridan Library does not hold a subscription will be requested through Interlibrary Services. In addition, instructors may consult their resource service librarians about purchasing a subscription.
  • Films/Videos: Any film requested for course reserves and not owned by JHU will be ordered and added to the collection; films will be acquired in DVD format, or in VHS if DVD is not available. Acquisition can take as little as two weeks but may take much longer if the film is out-of-print or on moratorium.

Note: The Reserve Office is aware that turnaround times for orders and Interlibrary requests may create complications; therefore, they try to keep instructors notified if problems arise in completing a reserve list. Contact the Reserves Office to inquire about a problem item’s availability at least two weeks before the assignment/viewing date.

How do I submit an eReserves request?

Using the eReserves service that the Reserves Office provides is easier than you think. While there is an interactive form that you can utilize to submit the request, the easiest way to submit is by e-mail. If you’re working with an instructional designer to develop an online course, they will submit the initial reserves request for you.

For subsequent terms, you can e-mail reserves@jhu.edu with the list of all the resources (including external videos) you would like to use for the course, along with some basic course information such as course ID, term, and course instructor name(s). Then, divide the resources into the modules they will be assigned in and the Reserves Office will tag each resource so that students can filter the eReserves page by module. If you would like to ensure that these resources are saved for use in another term, be sure to specify the next term date, if known.

You can use the eReserve Request E-Mail Template to structure your e-mail to the Reserves Office.

In order for an eReserves page to be ready for the term start, the request must be submitted before the deadline posted on the Reserves Office website, which is usually 4–6 weeks before the start of the term.

If there are any issues with finding a resource or obtaining permission, the Reserves Office will notify the instructional designer or instructors.

Note for instructors teaching multiple sections, including merged sections:

You must request the reserves be added for each section of the course, eReserves are not "merged" like Canvas courses, so be sure to list all course sections required (81, 82, etc).

When do I need to submit my resources list?

For an eReserves page to be ready for the term start, the request must be submitted before the deadline posted on the Reserves Office website, which is usually 4–6 weeks before the start of the term. Any reserves requests received after the deadline will be prioritized by the date when the resources need to be used by students, as indicated in the request.

How should I cite my resources?

Engineering for Professionals online courses use the American Psychological Association (APA) style. References in that format are the easiest way to provide all the information needed for your request. Just copy and paste the references out of your course.

If your resources are not in APA style, or a similar style, be sure to include the following information for each resource, depending on its type:

  • Books: author, title, publisher, and edition or publication date; if relevant, state your translator or editor of choice.
  • Journal articles: author, title, journal title and publication year or volume number, and, if possible, page references; full titles for journals, rather than abbreviations or acronyms, are appreciated.
  • Films/Videos: title, director, distributor, and format preferences (e.g., widescreen); for international films, please indicate whether you prefer the subtitled version and provide the film title in English translation.

How do I get my course eReserves in a new term?

To use the same eReserves resources as a previous term, e-mail the reserves@jhu.edu and let them know that you would like to “reinstate” the resources for the new term. You should also indicate which previous term the Reserves Office should reference for the new term’s page. The Reserves Office will then set up the eReserves page for the new term.

For an eReserves page to be ready for the term start, the request must be submitted before the deadline posted on the Reserves Office website, which is usually 4–6 weeks before the start of the term. Any reserves requests received after the deadline will be prioritized by the date when the resources need to be used by students, as indicated in the request.

Reserve staff routinely disassemble the reserves lists at the end of each term to make room for materials for the upcoming term. If you would like your current materials retained for the next term, please inform the Reserves Office when you submit your original reserves request or before the end of the current term.

Note: Materials retained from the Fall term for the Spring are not automatically available during the intersession; if you are interested in intersession access, please notify staff.

More Questions about eReserves or the Reserves Office?

If you have questions about the eReserves process or Reserve Office policies, contact reserves supervisor, Abby Collier (410-516-8377). Abby can also provide more information on specific resources or troubleshoot instances that fall outside the normal bounds stated within these FAQs. The library Help & Support page is also a great resource if you have questions.

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