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Library Support For Faculty Teaching : Text-Based Course Readings

Course reserves are one of the core services the library provides to students.  While many aspects of this library service do not require faculty involvement, we do offer additional support and guidance for faculty who are interested. 

Default Library Support

For all courses, the library puts two print copies of required published readings on course reserves. If the library does not have two copies, additional copies are purchased. When possible, the library will purchase an ebook copy of required readings, as well. 

Once the library has a copy of all required readings, we create a course reserves online guide that contains links to the catalog entry for course reserve books, allowing students to quickly and easily check out the book or access it online. 

For these two steps, no faculty involvement is required. However, you will receive an email when the course guide is completed and are welcome to request additional resources added. This can be recommended websites, videos, journal databases (that the library has access to), online handbooks or reference sources (that the library has access to), or any other resource you’d like students to be aware of for the course. The library is also available to you for assistance in recommending resources related to the course to include.

Additional Services

As you are creating your syllabi, email early in the process. We can help you with: 

  • ​Selecting course readings
  • Selecting reading material with ebook access in addition to print access 
  • Creating specialized LibGuides for your class
  • Incorporating digital humanities and other interactive text into the course 
  • Using other library resources (in-class instruction, research assistance, or using the library space)

Digital Course Readings and Packets

If you choose to use digital resources provided by the library, we can help you incorporate those into your syllabi and into Populi. Digital library material is not directly uploaded to Populi - the library will provide you with the links to direct students towards. 

Assigned Course Readings and Copyright

The library is not responsible for uploading scanned copies of course readings, and Meadville Lombard does not generally use course packets. Prior to uploading material to Populi, an instructor must: 

  1.  Check to see if MLTS Library and Archives has already purchased or licensed a digital copy of the copyrighted material you would like to use in class. MLTS’s digital resources include ATLA Religion Database, JSTOR Religion, Oxford Handbooks Online (Religion), Cambridge Introductions, Routledge Religion Handbooks, and a growing collection of ebooks.  If the copyrighted material is already held or licensed by MLTS, do not upload the item to Populi; simply provide a link to the material in your syllabus. Because MLTS purchases and licenses complete works, you can assign as much or as little of the material as you would like. More info about library services can be found here: 
  2. If a digital copy of the copyrighted material is not already held or licensed by MLTS, faculty must contact the Director of Library and Archives. If possible, the library will purchase or license digital access to the material.
  3. If it is not feasible to purchase or license digital access to the copyrighted material, faculty can work with the library to find suitable material that is already licensed by Meadville Lombard or that can be reasonably purchased or licensed.
  4. If a suitable replacement cannot be found, fair use allows for a selection of material to be copied and uploaded to Populi. For fair use to safely apply, the copied material
    1. must be used for a nonprofit, educational purpose
    2. must be nonfiction
    3. must be closely tied to the educational purposes of the class
    4. The selection must be a short amount 
    5. must include the notification: “Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code). Please do not reproduce or share”                                                                
    6. must include a full bibliographic citation on the first page of any copied/distributed work.
    7. For more information concerning fair use: Fair Use - Copyright - LibGuides at Meadville Lombard

Incorporating Library Links

All library services at Meadville Lombard use specialized links to facilitate a seamless single sign-on. If you would like to add links to resources in your syllabus, use the "Permalink" feature in the library catalog and Atla Religion Database and "Remote Access URL" feature in JSTOR to generate the compatible links to resources. If you are linking to the Handbooks or to Oxford Biblical Studies, please email so we can generate the correct type of links for you to add to the syllabus. 

Talk with a Librarian

If you have any questions, just ask! Librarians are here to help.

Suggested Best Practices

Utilize ebooks

If you contact the library early in the process of selecting course readings, we can help help you select assigned readings that have an ebook version available in addition to print copies. This provides students more options.  For students with disabilities, ebooks often provide useful accessibility features, such as increased font size, special fonts, and even audio features. We have found that many students prefer print books but will use ebooks to supplement their reading. A common use case is that students will read the print book, but rely on the ebook during their time in Chicago during Intensives.   

Ebooks can also alleviate many of the complexities related to copyright and uploading excerpts of reading. You can assign as much or as little of the book as you would like - letting the needs of the course and students, not copyright law, guide the reading selection.

Think Beyond Academic Monographs

  • Handbooks and Guides Wiggin Library provides online access to the complete sets of the Routledge Religion Handbooks, Oxford Religion Handbooks, and Cambridge Companions to Philosophy and Religion. These provide excellent up-to-date, academically grounded overviews of subjects related to the study of religion. A single handbook can function as a textbook for a class, or multiple handbooks can be mixed and matched. You can browse our handbooks here
  • Journal Articles In many cases, the most up-to-date scholarship can be found in journal articles through our journal databases. Journal articles also give students the opportunity to read more deeply about specific topics and familiarizes them with scholarly knowledge production. You can access our journal databases here
  • Digital Humanities There are a large number of academically grounded digital humanities projects that provide powerful ways to encounter primary texts, explore non-textual media, and supplement more traditional reading. You can access a searchable list of digital humanities projects and other digital resources curated by the library here

Open Educational Resources

"Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission. Unlike copyrighted resources, OER have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights." (Source: "Getting Started with OER" by OER Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0)  


Variety of Access Methods

When possible, look for readings that can be accessed in print as well as electronically. Selecting required readings that are available in print and as ebooks is beneficial to all students, especially those with accessibility needs. For students with visual impairment or language-based processing issues (like dyslexia), using ebooks allows for the use of screen readers* that can render the text into audio or braille. All students will appreciate having options for accessing their course readings. 

Of course, not all books most appropriate to your course will be available as ebooks - either from the library or for purchase via Amazon Kindle. In that case, Wiggin librarians can be a good resource for assisting students for whom print books are inaccessible. 

Ebooks from the Library

The library has identified accessibility options for the online platforms used to access ebooks owned by the Wiggin Library. The primary platform used for Wiggin Library ebooks is Ebook Central. Ebook Central allows users to enable an Accessibility Mode that eliminates extraneous features in the online reader platform that can cause issues for screen readers. It also offers the option to turn on Dyslexic Font, which will change all text (the book's contents itself, as well as the website's text labels) into a dyslexia-friendly font. For details on accessibility in Ebook Central, see the Ebook Central Features page in the Using Ebooks guide:

Journal Articles and File Types

If assigning journal articles or other text-based non-book required readings, offer multiple formats to accommodate the different screen readers or assistive technology students may use. The Wiggin Library provides access to several journal databases with full-text access to articles that can be downloaded and, in some cases, text-to-speech capability is built in for articles presented as HTML text. A PDF can be made accessible through some editing features. If you are interested in creating accessible PDFs, Word documents, or slide decks, contact for guidance. For more information about accessibility features from Wiggin Library's most popular journal databases, see:

* What is a screen reader?

A screen reader is a type of assistive technology. It is a software application that enables people with visual or cognitive impairments to use a computer and read electronic files by converting text, buttons, images and other screen elements into speech or Braille. Screen readers work closely with the computer’s Operating System (OS) to provide information about icons, menus, dialogue boxes, files and folders. The device provides access to the entire OS that it works with, including many common applications. A screen reader uses a Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine to translate the on-screen information into speech, which can be heard through earphones or speakers. Screen readers are also capable of providing information in Braille, but requires an external hardware device known as a refreshable Braille display. There are many different screen readers available and they vary as to the file types the support/prefer or do not support.

Meadville Lombard Wiggin Library
180 N. Wabash Ave.
Suite 625 
Chicago, IL 60601

Library and Archives Phone: 312-546-6488        Library Email:        Archives Email: