Course Reserves: An FAQ

Photo of books on reserve

There are over 4,000 items on reserve at Lamont in any given semester. (Photo credit: Paul Hanna.)

Have you inadvertently caused a recall war amongst your students? Then you know why it’s important to plan ahead and put materials on reserve at the library.

Reserves are the best way to ensure that all of your students enjoy equal access to course materials—Chris Lenney (Lamont Reserves Assistant) offers the following FAQ about reserves at Lamont and reserves in general.

How do reserves work?

1) You request items through the online Course Reserves tool on your course i-Site;

2) The library finds or acquires the items you’ve requested and puts them on 3-hour reserve;

3) A “Reserves List” topic box appears on your course i-site with all of the relevant information.

Which library handles reserves?

Most FAS course reserves are handled by Lamont, which has more than 4,000 items on reserve for 330 or so courses in any given semester. Other libraries that handle course reserves include Cabot Library, the Fine Arts Library, Harvard-Yenching Library, Loeb Music Library, and Tozzer Library. See the HCL website for more details about these libraries’ reserve policies.

When should I make my request?

You can make a request at any time up until the end of the semester, but if you want to ensure that something is available on the first day of class, try to make your request by August 1st. The library may need to purchase the material, or retrieve it from a remote location, or recall it from a patron, and all of these things take time—1-3 weeks at a minimum.

But I don’t have to reserve that far in advance if it’s just the course textbook, right? The library already owns all those.

The library does not systematically collect course textbooks. This means that the only way to guarantee that the required reading for your course will be available at the library is to request it through the reserves tool.

What other kinds of things can I put on reserve?

  • Books, CDs, and DVDs from library collections
  • Your personal copies of books, CDS, and DVDs (if a library copy is unavailable).
  • Sourcebooks and coursepacks (requested via the reserves tool)
  • A “Professor-produced Sourcebook”—aka a three-ring binder of material you’ve assembled and in which you’ve identified all of the sources for the material

What about streaming media?

Questions about streaming video should be directed to the Language Resource Center (495-9448), housed in Lamont, but not a department of the library.

What about journal articles, e-books, .pdfs, and other digital material?

The reserves team can create direct links to individual items in Harvard’s licensed e-resources; the links will appear (marked with a “D”) in the reserves list on your course i-Site.  For copyright reasons the library can’t put .pdfs on reserves (and you should be equally cautious about putting .pdfs on course i-Sites).

But I did all this last year! You mean I have to do it all again?

You’re in luck: the reserves tool remembers what you requested the last time the course was offered and allows you to re-use that list. If your previous list does not display as an option, contact library staff.

What’s it like to borrow a reserve item?

Lamont Reserve materials circulate for 3 hours and most items may be taken out of the building.

Three hours is so short! What if I want to screen a reserve DVD in class?

Faculty may borrow videos on a longer loan for in-class showings. Just contact Lamont staff a day or two in advance for details.

Great! Where’s that online tool?

It’s on your course i-site. Instructions on how to use the Reserves Tool may be found at this link:

Please keep in mind that the tool will continue to say “this course has no reserves list” while your request is in process; the reserves list won’t appear until the materials are actually at the library and available for reserves borrowing.

This post was written by Odile Harter.

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