Information Update - Spring 2001

Electronic Reserves Explained

There once was a time when the only thing a computer could do to help students with their schoolwork was to provide a calculator function and maybe some word processing. Today, someone could earn a college degree on-line and never leave the house. Somewhere in the middle, there are classes utilizing both the classroom and the Internet at the same time to help students learn. The use of Electronic Reserves is one of those ways.
Reserves are materials set aside in a library to supplement whatever in-class material a student may receive. The materials could be anything (like journal articles, books, pictures, movies, and so on) and their use is usually restricted by time and location. In the Weinberg Memorial Library, books and paper copies of journal articles are kept behind the Circulation Desk. For the most part, these reserves are restricted to in-library usage only (and therefore only available when the library is open), though there are some books that can be checked out for a day or two.
Electronic Reserves, on the other hand, are available on the World Wide Web through a program called ERes ( Being on the web allows reserved materials to be accessed by the students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The documents could be printed out, saved to disk, or simply accessed whenever need be. The documents can be in a number of electronic formats (MS Office, JPG, Text, etc.) and scanned documents will usually be in PDF format (Adobe Acrobat). In addition, links to other web sites can be made available. Along with the range of formats for electronic documents and links to other web sites, ERes has two other features to help the students and instructor interact with each other: each Course Page has its own chat room and bulletin board.
Copyright questions arise any time materials are reproduced for Reserves. Most educational use is governed by the "Fair Use" provision, section 107 of the copyright law. It allows for copying to be done for teaching, scholarship, and research purposes. In general, there are four guidelines to help determine if something is being fairly used: 1) The "purpose and character of use" of the document is considered; 2) The "nature" of the document being used; 3) What percentage of the whole is being used; and 4) What effect the use will have on the marketable value of the document. Fair use is permitted the first time an item is placed on reserve. For its second and each succeeding use, the Library must obtain permission from the holder of the copyright and/or pay a copyright fee for use of the material. In a small number of cases, if the Library is unable to obtain permission for use, the item cannot be placed on reserve.
The use of Electronic Reserves is growing. It would be hard to imagine any college level course not utilizing the web in some way in the near future. In the end, the students are here to learn, the instructors are here to teach, and anything that helps the process of education should be used.
Rhett Perdew