The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Op-Ed: Simpson Library’s course reserves provide free access to course materials for students

2 min read
Course textbooks on the library shelves.

Group of course textbooks that can be loaned out to students to prevent overpaying. | Russell Carver, The Weekly Ringer


Contributing Writer

I’m Laura Greeley, I work at Simpson Library, and I am in charge of course reserves. I saw the article, “Free, open access course materials should replace costly textbooks.” I wanted to make students aware of course reserves! Course reserves are an option we have here on campus at Simpson Library. The way it works is that professors send me a list of their required texts, sometimes articles, DVDs, or online resources, needed for their courses each semester. If the items aren’t already in the collection, we can purchase them. We then place the items on hold at the circulation desk. Students can check out these resources for a limited amount of time (usually 2 hours). We can also acquire electronic versions of textbooks if they’re available! 

Once the professor activates the “Library Reading List” tab in Canvas, students will have access. If a student goes to the “Library Reading List” tab, the entire reading list will be available to them to use. Students have the option of checking out books here, instead of spending tons of money on books they may only need a chapter or two out of. They can even scan chapters on our book scanner, which converts them into a PDF, and the student can have an electronic version for their own use. The materials are kept at the circulation desk where they are reserved for each individual course, making sure that all students of that course will continue to have access, without having to worry about it being checked out by someone else for a long period of time. I highly encourage visiting Simpson and taking a look! 

I can only create these reading lists for professors who have requested them. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of professors are unaware of the many resources the library has available for students. I have reached out to many of the departments and tried to spread the word. Some professors know about course reserves and will use them every time. I would like to thank our professors who do use the library and course reserves but wish that they were larger in number. 

As a student, what can you do? Check your courses in Canvas and see if you have reading lists available for you to use! If not, ask your professors if they know about course reserves. Make sure to advocate with the professors! We have resources here, so make sure they’re using them. Reserves are here for the success of the student. We have a ton of resources here at Simpson. You’d be surprised at what you’ll find!