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Our Services: Reading Lists: Ebooks guidance

A guide on how to create and maintain reading lists using Talis Aspire

About academic eBooks

Academic eBooks are not like the ones we use with Kindles and e-readers. Sometimes there are limitations on their availability and use that it is important to be aware of. More information is available on our eBooks guide.

For eBooks provided by Ebsco, Ebook Central, or VLeBooks, check that the number of copies and the options for saving extracts is sufficient for the number of students undertaking the module and for the intended purpose.

The number of pages that can be saved or printed is set by the publisher and we cannot have those adjusted. There is often flexibility on the number of online 'copies' we can buy. There is not always an unlimited option available but we can usually purchase multiple licences to increase availability. Please alert if any of your module’s key readings are contained in single-copy eBooks and we will investigate options available for improving access.

Please encourage your students to follow the advice in the section marked ‘Advice for students’.

It is strongly recommended that you check the library provisions of all key readings described in you module reading lists as soon as you can. If any are only available through EbscoEbook Central, or VLeBooks it is advisable to check the provisions described below and, if there are restrictions, access the books as soon as possible to save or print the sections you need (subject to any limits imposed) so they are accessible when you need them.

In Ebook Central you can download full chapters straight from the Table of Contents without having to occupy one of the 'copies', providing there is at least one copy not being used. In Ebsco or VLeBooks, or where you do not need full chapters, use the 'view online' option and save the pages you need to read. Once saved, you will have permanent access to those pages.

As the 'download' option blocks access for others for longer, please only use it where there is a genuine need for extended use. The 'read online' option cycles availability much more swiftly.

If you cannot access the book immediately, it is worth trying again later, as usually one of the 'copies' cannot be checked out and so functions as a 'reference' copy that is put back as soon as the current borrower closes their browser window.

Please alert if you are experiencing difficulties obtaining key extracts from eBooks.

Purchase models

Most of our eBooks are available either within subject-based collections we have acquired, or as individual titles purchased from library suppliers.

Publishers do not always make licences of individual titles available for institutional (i.e. library) use. The eBooks found on publisher sites and commercial vendors are usually consumer versions that cannot be shared.

Possible contingencies

We can work with tutors to explore and identify viable alternatives, including:

  1. Using alternative eBooks in the relevant subject area from the library’s existing online collection
  2. Scanning extracts from the Library’s existing print collections, subject to the restrictions of UK copyright law and the terms of the UK Higher Education copyright licence.
  3. Linking to alternative academic materials, such as journal articles, streaming media, and other digital material
  4. Identifying open access alternatives

Please contact your Faculty Librarian for guidance.


Most eBooks with restrictions are hosted on Ebook Central, Ebsco, or VLeBooks. These sites describe any restrictions when you first arrive at the book's page. If such restrictions are not presented clearly, it can usually be assumed that there are none.