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Ebook Guide

Unlimited License Ebooks


We are excited to partner with you to provide students with access to unlimited-license ebooks as part of a textbook affordability initiative that can help increase student success and lower the overall cost of their education.

The UA Libraries purchase only unlimited licenses for course use, which allows for simultaneous access and downloading to all students in the class. Typically only around 20% of titles are available to libraries with unlimited licenses (a publisher decision), but we will do our best to find free-to-use materials for you and your students.

Browse titles that are currently being used for UA courses in our Course Ebooks finding tool. Students and instructors can search by title, course, instructor, and term. Read below for tips on how to find additional titles and support. 

UA Libraries' Ebooks as Textbooks

Adopting an ebook as a course material

  • Use our Check for Ebook Availability form to see if we can purchase an unlimited license for your course. This allows us time to work with you to find alternatives if an unlimited license is not available. 
  • If a title is available to use, or we can purchase the title, we will send you the ebook link that you can share with your students. This process to obtain a link for a new book can take up to several weeks, depending on the publisher.*
  • You will still need to submit your textbook adoptions to the UA BookStores, even if you are only using library materials (this allows students to know that your course will require no purchases).
  • UA Libraries receives the list of textbook adoptions from the UA BookStores as well, and we also review each title to see what we are able to purchase as an unlimited license.  

*Because purchases and links can take several weeks, in is very important to submit your requests well in advance of the beginning of the semester or session and to submit your textbook adoption form to the UA Bookstores by the mid-semester deadlines. If you are unable to meet the deadline, please submit your form as soon as possible. 

Permalinks (also known as stable links)

Permalink provide a reliable way to connect with UA Libraries' resources off-campus by connecting users through UA authentication. 

Due to the wide variability of ebook platforms and publishers, it may be challenging to get the correct link for your students. You can use our Check for ebook availability form and we will ensure that you get the unlimited license version as well as the stable link that will allow for off-campus access if the title is available. Please reach out to the Libraries if your link is not working.

Learn more details about Permalinks in the Ebooks and Best Practices section within this Ebook LibGuide.

Please notify us when using UA Libraries' ebooks as course materials! 

It is important that we know what UA Libraries' titles you are using for your courses so that we can provide support when there might be problems (licensing changes, publisher/platform removal, turnaway data). When you use our Check for ebook availability form, we have the documentation necessary.

In addition, please add these ebook titles to your UA BookStores textbook adoption form. 

Limited license ebooks

You will find many limited-license titles in our collection that are not upgradeable due to a variety of issues. These are generally not appropriate for course use due to the limited number of copies available, but students and instructors do come across these and use them.

We have provided tips for how to mitigate some of the challenges of access in this guide, Limited user license tips. You can help us support your ebook needs by filling out the Check for ebook availability form, which gives us your name, the title, and the course you are teaching. This enables us to reach out to you when we see ebook turnaways. 

Publishers or platforms unsuitable for course use

Students and instructors can find these resources in our catalog, but we have found that they can cause students and instructors issues because they are either very limited or can disappear without warning from Library search.

  • Safari/O'Reilly
    • Titles in these collections can disappear without warning. This can be extremely frustrating and challenging for students.
  • Open Library of the Internet 
    • These titles are 1-user licenses and are generally available for a very short period of time. 
  • Knovel
    • These titles also disappear without warning.

Are your course resources accessible? 

This LibGuide section on accessibility provides additional information about accessible ebook features, as well as information about accessible PDFs when you may be using one or two chapters of an ebook. 

The UA Disability Resource Center provides support for students, instructors and faculty. You can find specific information about instruction and accessibility on the Instructors page. 

Why the UA Libraries might not be able to purchase the book you want

There are several factors that limit UA Libraries' ability to obtain certain textbooks and materials:

  1. Campus-wide availability - Some book titles are only available for download as eBooks to individual devices, for example, Kindle eBooks or eBooks available through iTunes.  If we cannot provide campus-wide access to all users, we will not purchase the eBook title. 
  2. Licensing Terms - The purchase of many eBooks requires the completion of a license agreement with the publisher or vendor.  At times, we find that the licensing terms are too restrictive, or some vendors are unwilling to accept what the University Libraries require in a license.  When this happens, we will not move forward with the purchase of the eBook content. 
  3. Cost - The University Libraries frequently pay more for an eBook than an individual student does for a print copy of the same title, as campus-wide access requires a greater investment.  However, there are times that the cost of a single title is prohibitive or requires such a significant ongoing expense that the purchase of the eBook not is simply not feasible. 
  4. Publisher embargoes - Unfortunately, there are simply some titles the University Libraries cannot acquire as eBooks due to publisher embargoes.  Publishers embargo some of their eBook textbook titles from libraries and will only sell them to individuals (students).  Some publishers are worse about this than others.  Examples of publishers that are notorious for embargoing textbook content from libraries are Pearson, Cengage, McGraw-Hill, and SAGE.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but we know for certain that these four publishers have been unwilling to sell their textbook content to libraries. 

Additional textbook alternatives and free-to-use materials

Get articles and limited book chapters for free!

We'll email you articles and book chapters free of charge. These can then upload the PDFs to course sites.

Book Selections

Fair use guidelines are flexible. Using one or two book chapters or less than 10-20% of a book can be used as a general rule of thumb in gauging the fairness of a use in an educational context. However, instructors must conduct their own fair use evaluations when making digitized copies of our print collections available to their students. It considered a violation of copyright law for an instructor to upload an entire digital book to a Learning Media System such as D2L.  Request a book chapter.


The number of journal, magazine, and newspaper articles that may be copied for each course should be reasonable in relation to the learning objective and total amount of material assigned for one term of a course. Take into account the nature of the course, its subject matter, and level. Request an article.

Please note: Not all PDFs are accessible. To request an accessible format, contact Disability Resources for help. For more details about accessible PDFs, read Are your PDFs accessible?

Using films and videos in your course

The library provides dozens of film databases for course use. We also have DVDs for in-class viewings (please note that DVD players have limited support in UA classrooms). To use streaming video in a course, please fill out our Request streaming video form each semester.

Do this for each film you plan to use (if you're requesting multiple films for the same course, you can use the back button to avoid retyping course information). Please give us plenty of lead time to process streaming video requests. Learn more about streaming video for course use.

OER: free access for students and instructors

Free access doesn't always equate to OER. While University of Arizona affiliates can freely access the library's licensed ebooks, those are copyrighted with all rights reserved and not OER.

To be OER, materials must:

  • Be free to access, and
  • Give users the freedom to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the content

The freedom to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute content is usually granted by a Creative Commonslicense or because a resource is in the public domain.

Learn more about finding OER resources, copyright information, and other OER information on the Find and use OER page.