7 Library Support for Low-Cost/No-Cost Course Designations

Jill Emery and Elsa Loftis

The PSU Library is committed to serving our students and faculty  by providing equitable access to content and to lower the hurdles and burdens faced by students needing access to course materials. To this end, we have outlined what the Library can and cannot commit to providing course material. Please contact your subject librarian or the collection development and management librarian before designating a course low cost or no cost if planning on using library resources.

The Library is able to provide access to materials in three specific ways:

  1. Print Course Reserves
  2. Electronic Course Reserves
  3. Direct links to licensed content; for example: digital primary resources, online journal articles, library purchased ebooks, streaming video titles (help with linking to licensed content)

The Library will strive to support all content that meets the following criteria:

  • If faculty are marking their course as no-cost because they are placing their course materials on Print Course Reserves, they need to ensure that all of their students will have equal access to all the material assigned (cannot have online access codes to worksets, other assignments only available to a single student). This may mean having multiple copies of material available depending on the size of the class or if there are multiple sections.
  • The Library routinely buys unlimited simultaneous user ebooks, packages of online journals from scholarly publishers, streaming media titles & performances, and digital primary resources.
  • The Library is committed to providing open access (OA) content when available which includes access to Open Educational Resources (OERs) and adopted Open Educational Resources as selected by faculty.

The Library cannot provide the following course materials for No Cost/Low Cost designations:

  • The Library is unable to purchase the e-textbook version of many course textbooks due to publishers not providing electronic purchasing options (see the Library’s statement on textbooks for more information).
  • The Library may occasionally purchase or have purchased online materials that have restrictive digital rights management (DRM) applied that impedes access to multiple students or accessibility to the content. This means we prefer not to purchase any content that is limited to a single user or to only a subset of users and/or with DRM that renders the material inaccessible to assistive technology. Some online material is simply not sold to academic libraries for use where it may be sold to individuals routinely.
  • The Library is unable to purchase print resources costing more than $500 per copy or for multiple copies to be placed on course reserves; especially when the only print copies available are desk copies or instructor copies of textbooks.
  • The Library cannot provide feature release streaming media that is readily available by major personal streaming media providers such as Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBOMax, Hulu, and/or Netflix to name the most popular.
  • The Library reserves the right to annually review usage statistics on annual purchases for online resources used in teaching and learning and cancel any in which the cost per use is over $100/use.
  • The Library cannot provide any materials where doing so violates licensing restrictions or copyright law; this includes scanning entire books or journal issues.



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Library Support for Low-Cost/No-Cost Course Designations Copyright © by Jill Emery and Elsa Loftis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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