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Library Toolbox for Faculty and Staff

Using a Library EBook in a Course

We all want to help students save money. Not requiring expensive textbooks is one effective way to do this. When possible, of course, Open Access Textbooks should be used. Unfortunately, this isn't always an option because such texts don't exist for many topics. Linking to library Ebooks is also a possibility. However, these EBooks sometimes come with limitations. You can mitigate against these limitations (on number of simultaneous users, print, and download limits) by being aware of them, and if acceptable for how they will be used, communicating best practices to your students. Here is a brief tutorial on how to locate, assess and link to specific library EBooks as course materials (textbook or shorter reading).


Locate EBooks

Available textbooks already identified as being used in courses can be browsed and accessed through the Course Reserves Guide.

ProQuest EBook Central is our largest collection by far. We also have Springer and EBSCOHost collections (these don't have as many restrictions on use, but are smaller collections).

Use EBook Central Advanced Search to limit results by download or # of copies available status: shows ProQuest EBook Central advanced search limit options on right side


Assess EBooks for Course Use

Before using an EBook as a course text, give some thought to how it will be used. For example, if it will be heavily and repeatedly used throughout the term and/or by many students, you should focus on those titles with an unlimited user license. You can also get customizable text to help students use library ebooks.

General characteristics of each collection:

  • ProQuest EBook Central: user license (think of this as # of copies available) varies by title (1, 3 or unlimited); most are subscribed, some owned; print and download is often limited - see landing page of a title for specifics.
  • Springer: unlimited user license via subscription, download/print usually unlimited, in PDF or EPUB format (exceptions are most handbooks and encyclopedias)
  • EBSCOHost: unlimited user license via subscription; download/print unlimited in PDF and/or EPUB format.
  • IMPORTANT: while very rare, any title we get via subscription can be removed by the publisher with little or no warning. This will not occur for EBook Central titles we own (currently this is less than 2,000 titles).

shows landing pages for EBooks from ProQuest EBook Central and Springer


Link to EBooks

If in doubt, feel free to contact the library to get a link to a specific title (or even to a page within a title).

For ProQuest and Springer, go to the landing page of the EBook you want to use and copy-paste the URL displayed in your browser's address bar:

For EBSCOHost, look for "Permalink" in the lower right of the title's landing page: EBSCOHost permalink

Also consider instructing students to avoid downloading the entire book (unless it's an unlimited license or a special needs case), as that can restrict access to others while it is downloaded. Here is a screen shot (rt-click on image to download it to embed in course instructions):

Shows EBook Central title download options, with annotations for students to prevent full-title downloading


Link to a Specific Page within an EBook Central Title (not possible for EBSCOHost or Springer titles)

If you want students to go directly to a specific page within an EBook Central title, here are 3 easy steps to get a link that does that:

  1. Go to the ebook and click "Read online" or use the table of contents links to go into the book to the page you want.  Just above the page display, click on the link icon (yellow highlight): shows the link icon highlighted on a page within an EBook Central title.
  2. Then copy & paste the URL that is displayed in the pop-up window (e.g.: - note the page number in the URL will often not match the page printed in the book itself (this is ok - the system counts all pages, not just those numbered for print): shows the copy link pop up box for an EBook Central title

Help Text for Students if Using a Library EBook in a Course

If you are using a ProQuest EBook Central title as a replacement text in a course, here is some help text you can copy-edit-paste to help students use it (we can also edit the full-title download period or turn that option off if that would help retain student access to a heavily-used title that does not have unlimited access: email to request this):

Library ebooks can be freely accessed and read online with a browser using the links provided and your SUNY Empire login. However, functions like printing, copying, and full-title downloading are limited by copyright restrictions that vary by title. These limits are stated on the landing page. In addition, to use those functions (as well as to highlight text and add notes) you need to use your a free EBook Central account (look for the 'Sign In' link in the top right when you access any library ebook - by default you may be signed in when you access). Lastly, for any titles with only a 3-user license, keep in mind that if you do a full download of that title, you are reserving one of those user licenses for the duration of the check-out period. So that access can be maintained for all students, please only use the full download function for 3-user licenses when necessary (this does not impact any title with an unlimited user license).