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Course Reserves: For Faculty

Course reserves allow professors to put textbooks and readings on reserve for their class at the library. Find out here how you can add and access items on reserve.

This table will help you determine what may or may not be put on course reserve:

Item type

Accepted? Notes:
Books Yes Both personal copies and JKM-owned allowed.
Photocopies of journal articles, book chapters, etc. Yes Must comply with Fair Use guidelines -- see guidelines below.
Commercially-produced video/audio recordings Yes Commercially-produced recordings are accepted, as are those owned by JKM Library.
Privately-produced video/audio recordings See notes May be placed on reserve ONCE and once only.
Copies of student papers and tutorials Yes Must have written permission of the student author included with each item.
Faculty-created course documents Yes Includes old class exams, homework problems and solutions, syllabi, and similar documents.
Consumables No Workbooks, copies of standardized tests, course packs, and other single-use items.
Items borrowed from other libraries No This includes ILLiad and EZBorrow books, as well as books from the public library.
Items rented from commercial establishments No Includes items such as movies rented from RedBox or books rented from Chegg.

Copyright and Fair Use

Course Reserve Copyright Compliance Policy

There are limits to the type and quantity of materials which may be placed on Course Reserve. The following guidelines are offered by JKM Library in order to comply with copyright, but please note: these are only guidelines! Copyright law is extremely complex, and it is difficult to give any absolutes. These guidelines are pending approval by University legal counsel. These guidelines exist because the JKM Library endeavors to abide by the legal requirements of copyright law, as well as to maintain the principles of academic integrity. 


  • Each item placed on reserve should include the full bibliographic citation. Materials lacking such information may be delayed in processing.
  • Students must not be assessed any charges for use of reserve materials beyond their own photocopying costs and late fines or replacement fees.
  • Individual instructors are responsible for copyright compliance including obtaining publisher permission if the usage would exceed fair use guidelines (as laid out in the next tab).
  • JKM Library reserves the right to decline placing any item on reserve that lacks copyright permission if the nature, scope, or extent is judged by the library to exceed the reasonable limits of fair use.

View the JKM Copyright Guide here for more information about copyright law and best practices.

Learn about Fair Use Doctrine at the JKM Copyright Libguide, here.

It is important to be mindful of copyright law when placing items on course reserves. Here are some rules for when you should seek permissions, based upon the Guidelines for Classroom Copying (1976). 

Materials which do not usually require permissions for reproductions:

  • Works in the public domain, including:
    • U.S. Government publications
    • See this chart from Cornell University to determine if items fall into the public domain based on the date they were published
  • Copyrighted works whose use can be considered fair use are not required as long as the reproduction and use of these materials does not violate the provisions of fair use. Such works include:
    • one article from one issue of a journal, periodical, or newspaper
    • one chapter from a book, anthology, or conference proceeding
    • one short story, essay, or poem from a collection
    • one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper
  • Multiple copies of copyrighted works: Permissions are not required as long as the reproduction and use of these materials does not violate the provisions of fair use, and meet the additional criteria of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect as described in the Guidelines for Classroom Copying. Such items include:
    • One reproduction of an item may be placed on reserve for every 20 students enrolled in a course
    • Up to nine such instances of multiple copies may be allowed for a single course; the tenth and subsequent items may only be placed on reserve in single-copies
  • Faculty exams, homework or problem set answers, lecture notes: If a faculty member chooses to place materials they themselves have created, these items have automatically received permission to be placed on course reserve.
  • Student Papers: Student papers may be placed on course reserve only if written permission from the student accompanies each item.
  • Materials which require permissions for reproductions:

Items which violate the doctrine of Fair Use:

  • Multiple articles from a single issue of a journal, periodical, or newspaper
  • Multiple chapters from a single book, anthology, or conference proceeding
  • Multiple elements of a collection of short stories, essays, or poems
  • Reproductions needed for more than one semester

This guide offers some suggestions on how to seek copyright permissions for materials you wish to place on Course Reserve, use in the classroom, or provide in electronic format (e.g., through Moodle). This guide is not legal advice but is intended as an informational guide to assist you in obtaining copyright permissions for educational purposes.

For every item for which you need to seek copyright permissions, you will need to contact the Copyright/Permissions Department of that item's publisher. For books, this information is often available on the back of the title page. For journals, it is often available near the table of contents or with editorial and submission policies. Most publishers will also provide this information on their websites.

Letters of Request should be sent on Chatham University letterhead. Allow approximately four to six weeks for processing by the publisher. It is generally a good idea to include two copies of your letter and release form so that the copyright holder will have one to retain for their records and one to return to you. In addition, you should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of your release form.

Your letter should include:

  • Title, author and/or editor, and edition.
  • Exact material to be use.
  • Number of times (semesters) you plan to use this material
  • Number of copies to be made.
  • Intended use of the material, e.g. educational.
  • Form of distribution, e.g., hard copy to classroom, internet use.

Below you will find a sample letter you may wish to use as a template to develop your own letters. Remember to include copies of all letters granting you permission for Course Reserve use when submitting those materials for Course Reserve.

Sample Permissions Request Letter:


[Return address if not on letterhead]

[Copyright Holders Name and Address]


Dear [Permissions Editor, Personal Name, Sir, Madam, etc.]:

For a course I am teaching at Chatham University, I would like to photocopy the following material(s) and [distribute them / make them available on Course Reserve / make them available digitally] to the students in my class.

[Full citation for each item for which you are requesting permission]

This request is for the [fall / spring / summer] term, [year] for the following course:

[Course Name and Number]
[Number of students enrolled]
[If there is any additional information you want to provide such as: what role this material plays in your course; who will have access to this material, etc., include it here.]

Any future use of this item in subsequent semesters will be renegotiated [or, request additional semesters of use here if you already plan on needing to use this material again]. If you do not control the copyright of all of the material(s) listed above, please provide me with any contact information you have, including names and current address(es), of the current copyright holder(s). Otherwise, your indication of permission confirms that you hold the right to grant the permission requested here.

I would greatly appreciate your approval of my request, as this material is very important to my teaching of this course. If you need any additional information, please contact me. I can be reached at:

[your contact information]

I have provided a duplicate copy of this request for your records. If you approve my request as described above, please sign the release form below and return one copy to me in the self-addressed return envelope I have enclosed.

[typed name]

Sample Agreement Form:

Permission has been granted for the use of the materials listed above.

Agreed to by:

Q: What if I'm using an out-of-print book, is there still a limit on the number of copies I can place on reserve? 

A: No distinction is made between in-print and out-of-print materials with respect to fair use guidelines. In fact, because of recent technological developments which have made print and electronic reproductions both inexpensive and fast, the market for out-of-print (but still under copyright) materials may be stronger now than ever. Note that some out-of-print materials may now be in the public domain and no longer subject to fair use guidelines.

Q: The text I want to use for my class is out-of-print and copies are scarce and prohibitively expensive.  I'd like to place copies of 4 or 5 chapters of this 12-chapter book on reserve for the semester.  Is this allowed?

A: No, this exceeds both the fair use and the classroom use guidelines. If you have a copy or two of the book itself, you may place the entire book on reserve and avoid the problem with photocopies.

Q: Am I (the faculty member) still responsible for copyright if someone else makes the copies for me? 

A: Yes. Even if the copy is made by the Copy Center or a student assistant, the copies are still effectively being made for the faculty member, so the faculty member is responsible. Please also note that library staff will not make copies of articles to be placed on reserve individual faculty members are responsible for providing their own copies.

Q: Why do I have to pick up my photocopies at the end of the semester? 

A: The copyright law does not specifically address the length of time a print copy may be retained, though remember that permissions must be obtained from the publisher to place photocopies on reserve for more than one semester. Additionally, space constraints prohibit the library from retention of course reserves past the end-of-semester pickup time.

Q: How do I get permission to use a copy of an article for more than one semester? 

A: You'll need to seek permission from the copyright holder (for journal articles this is frequently the publisher). If you need assistance in determining the copyright holder, or an example of a permission letter, please visit the Requesting Copyright Permissions page, or ask to look at the copies at the Circulation Desk.

Q: It looks like most course reserve use is probably within the fair use guidelines, so why does the library need me to sign the Course Reserve Request Form?

A: The library can't guarantee what is or is not fair use; we can only make recommendations and suggest you err on the side of caution and seek permissions when in doubt. JKM Library needs to comply with copyright law and fair use, and our policies and procedures are designed to recognize the intent of the law. Your signature on the form indicates our good faith effort to be in full compliance with the law.

Q: It sounds like I need to get permissions for just about everything I want to put on reserve, do I?

A: No, the fair use restrictions apply to reproductions or photocopies of originals. Whole books can be placed on reserve without problems, as can materials in the public domain.

Q: I wrote this article, so can I put as many copies on reserve as I want?

A: That depends. Frequently, when an article is published, the author signs a transfer of copyright to the publisher. If you agreed to such a transfer, the publisher, not you, is the copyright holder, and so use of the article falls under fair use guidelines. If you retained your rights, then we ask only that you carefully consider the minimum number of copies which is reasonable to ensure that the students in your class have adequate access to the material.

Q: I know I need to get permission to use some materials for my course. How do I do this?

A: You'll need to contact the publisher (or copyright holder) requesting permission for use in class or as a course reserve item. Visit the Requesting Copyright Permissions tab for a sample letter. If you're having difficulty determining who the copyright holder is, the library staff may be able to give you some suggestions.

Q: I recorded a documentary from TV and would like to place it on reserve for my students to watch. Is that okay?

A: Yes, but only once. After that you'll need to seek permissions. If you purchase a copy and would like to place that on reserve, that would be fine.

Q: If I received an article through Interlibrary Loan, can I place it on reserve?

A: No, Copyright Law (specifically Section 108(d)) states that a library may copy no more than one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue, or to a small part of any other copyrighted work. The copy you have received is limited by law to private study, scholarship, or research.

Notes about Personal Copies

If you would like to place your personal copies of items on reserve, please keep in mind:

  • Course Reserves require several labels on each item. This will result in some minor cosmetic changes to your item.
  • JKM Library is not responsible for loss/damage to personal copies of materials placed on reserve. We make every effort to ensure that your materials are clearly marked as belonging to course reserves and that items are used properly and returned in timely fashion.
  • Within two weeks of the last day of exams your materials will be removed from course reserves. You will be sent an email when your items are ready for pick-up at the REFERENCE DESK.
  • Any item(s) not picked up within a year of being removed from course reserves will be added to the library's collections at staff discretion. Materials not added to the collection will be donated or discarded.

Need a different loan time? Contact the Head of Access Services (Kate Wenger) to see if we may be able to accommodate other options.

Questions? Just contact us!

Call us at (412) 365-1245

Email us at,

Or stop by the Circulation Desk, 1st floor, JKM Library!

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