eBook Policy

Unlike print books, the University Library does not own eBooks. Instead, publishers require the library to acquire institutional licenses for eBook titles through a variety of vendors. The library can purchase a perpetual license or rent titles short term. The library maintains access to perpetual titles as long as the library has a contract with the vendor (ex: Ebook Central). In the event the library does not renew a contract with a vendor (ex: Ebook Central) access to those licenses will be lost. In some cases, a licensing agreement for the same book may differ across different vendor platforms. Many publishers utilize digital rights management or DRM when licensing eBooks. DRM can limit the number of users, how the book is accessed (example: ONLY via Adobe digital editions), or if a patron can print/save/copy. Given the differences in licensing and pricing structure, the University Library prioritizes eBooks that can be purchased in the following formats:

  1. Unlimited Access – Digital Rights Management (DRM) Free. These eBook licenses include unlimited access to patrons without restrictions on printing, saving or copying. This model is preferred.
  2. Unlimited Access – These eBook licenses include unlimited access to patrons, but may have restrictions on printing, saving, or copying. (Example: A student wants to print out a 30 page chapter from an eBook to read for a class, but the license only allows the student to print 10 pages of the book, or a student wants to save the eBook to their device to refer to later, but the eBook does not allow saving to personal devices).
  3. Non-Linear Access – These eBook licenses can be used by any number of patrons concurrently for a total of 325 loan days for the title. The loan will reset each year. (Example: 4 students loan an eBook for 3 days each. 4 students x 3 days = 12 total days. Those 12 days would be subtracted from 325 to equal 313. This means there are 313 loan days left for the title this year). The same restrictions may apply to non-linear access titles as unlimited access titles.
  4. Linear 1 User or 3 User eBooks – The University will not license 1 User or 3 User eBooks as textbooks required for a class, or as supplemental readings for a class. Many of these books have digital rights management restrictions that are more restrictive than the other eBook purchasing models. These restrictions are placed on them by publishers, authors, or other third parties. (Example: A 3 user eBook is assigned for a class. 3 students are actively using the ebook so the 4th, 5th, and 6th student were turned away and were unable to access the book needed for a class discussion the following day. The students have to keep checking back to see if a one of the first 3 students have released the book). An additional challenge with this access model is that there is a 1-hour lockout period after the eBook is returned, or if a user changes web browsers or devices. This can be frustrating for students and makes studying/research more difficult.

If instructors would still like to assign an eBook that has a linear 1 user or 3 user restriction, they can still do that outside of the library. Google Play/Amazon Kindle are some alternatives available that would allow students to access materials inexpensively for individual access directly on those platforms.

If you have any questions please contact your program liaison or libraryerresourcemanagement@wlu.edu.