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Using eBooks as Course Textbooks

eBook Access

UT Libraries aims to provide ebooks that can be accessed by unlimited simultaneous users. Publishers often do not allow libraries to purchase electronic access to their textbooks, instead they may only offer ebooks for individual use in order to maximize the number of students who have to buy personal copies. 

Check if we already own the ebook you need in our library catalog. If the ebook does not appear to be available, instructors can place a request via our Course Materials page

Any user can and should let us know about titles they are interested in via our Suggest a Purchase form

Other publishers allow libraries to purchase some books electronically while marketing others as textbooks with only individual access, or put limits on the latest editions. This means that if professors have adopted texts from these publishers, students who are unable to purchase the text will have no access to the content. Rental textbooks are typically not licensed for library use. 

Similar issues impact our ability to license streaming films, even when they are available for individuals to rent or buy through platforms such as Amazon, YouTube, Apple, or streaming through services like Netflix or Hulu. Please visit our Streaming Resources guide for more information about available platforms for streaming media.

Subject specialist librarians and our Open Educational Resources librarian are available to work with instructors to identify alternatives, including:

  • Using an ebook that the library already owns or can purchase with unlimited access.
  • Adopting an Open Educational Resource (OER). OERs are any type of material or resource used for teaching available in the public domain that is free to use and/or alter. More information is available on our OER guide.
  • Selecting book chapters to be posted in Canvas through our Get a Scan service, or articles that can be linked from library resources.


Any instructor is welcome to contact the Libraries for assistance in locating electronic resources that can be provided by the Libraries.


Adapted from UNC Greensboro Libraries page

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Generic License.