Skip to Main Content

Using Ebooks

How to find and use ebooks on some of our most popular ebook platforms.

Assigning Ebooks for Class

Frequently Asked Questions

Can all students in my class read an assigned library ebook at the same time?

It depends. Publishers set restrictions on how many users may access and use an ebook at a time. The library agrees to these terms when we purchase the ebook for our collection. Many of our ebooks are available as multi-user or unlimited access, while some are limited to 1 or 3 simultaneous users.  Commercial textbooks are often not available for institutional purchase by libraries.


How can I tell how many users can access a specific ebook? 

If you are using an ebook from EBSCO or ProQuest, check the title access restrictions/user limits on the ebook main record page. See the examples below. Other providers such as JSTOR, Springer, ScienceDirect, etc., allow for unlimited access. If you have any questions about access and user limits for a specific ebook, contact your library liaison

EBSCO ebooks

EBSCO ebook user limit


ProQuest ebooks


How can all of my students access the ebook?

If your class is not reading the entire ebook, you may have the option of downloading chapters and sections and sharing these with your class (see instructions for EBSCO ebooks and ProQuest Ebook Central). If your class is reading the entire ebook, see below. 


Can I request the library change the access to an ebook?

It depends on the ebook's availability, cost, and publisher's access restrictions. Some ebooks are sold only as single-user. If the library has the funds, and the ebook is available as unlimited or multiple-user, we may be able to upgrade to a higher user license.  


If there is an access restriction on an ebook assigned for my class, can students access the ebook through another library?

No. Ebooks cannot be borrowed via Link+ or Interlibrary Loan; however, other libraries may have print copies of books available that students may be able to borrow.

How can I get help with a specific ebook I'd like to assign to my class?

Contact your library liaison or the Reserves Coordinator ( or (415) 422-6908) for assistance with purchasing or assigning a specific ebook for class use. Please allow time for library staff to investigate possible ebook availability and options.

*Adapted from Duke University Libraries ebook FAQs

Ask A Librarian