Materials such as books, articles, videos, and CDs that an instructor has selected for use by students enrolled in a specific course are placed on reserve at Burke Library.  Online content, or e-reserves (articles, book chapters, excerpts, etc.), may be accessed both on and off campus. This page is intended to guide faculty in placing items on reserve. To access reserves already posted, please check the library catalog.

Last updated: January 14, 2022


Electronic - Students are able to access electronic reserves through the library catalog, the library resources page, or links in a Blackboard course page. Electronic reserves are made accessible for the duration of the semester requested. Students are able to both print and save pdf files. Electronic reserves might include:

Print periodical articles, scanned to PDF
A small selection or chapter from a book, scanned to PDF
Links to websites
Links to articles in online journals
Links to chapters in ebooks
Links to streaming video or audio 

Physical -  Physical reserves are items owned by the Library or faculty members. Typically, items are placed on physical reserve when we are unable to provide electronic access to the material due to availability and/or copyright restrictions. The collection is housed behind the circulation desks in Burke Library and the Music Library. Students are able to charge out items for two or three hours at a time with an option to renew. Students are able to charge reserves out for an extended period of time (e.g., over spring recess) only with the faculty member's permission. Physical reserve items may include:


Students can find a list of reserves for each course by using the course reserves tab in the library catalog,

They are able to access electronic reserves through the course reserves tab in the library catalog, links throughout the LITS  webpages, or course web links in Blackboard. Electronic reserves are made accessible for the duration of the semester requested. Students are able to both print and save pdf files.

Physical reserves are shelved behind the circulation desks at Burke Library and the Music Library.

You may request reserves by 

Submitting your course syllabus by emailing askcirc@hamilton.edu or bringing it to the circulation desk

Completing our online Reserves Request form

Reuse from a course taught previously - the circulation department retains reserve files for the current semester and the four previous semesters. Circulation can provide you with a list of all of the reserves used for a particular course. Simply mark the reserves that you'd like to reuse and dates needed.

Completing a reserves card, which can be picked up at the Circulation Desk at Burke Library

Please provide the following information with your request:

Your name

Course number and section (i.e. BIO-101-02)

Date reserve is needed

Full citation of the book or periodical requested - the more complete the information, the better we will be able to serve you

You may choose to submit your own copies or pdfs. In addition to providing the information mentioned above, please make sure that your copy is clean; if your reading is from a book, we must have both the title and copyright pages. 

All electronic reserves must comply with copyright law. Copyright compliance is based on Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. To determine if a request falls under Fair Use, the following are considered:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (creative, informative, data, etc.)
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole 
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Readings for courses generally meet Fair Use guideline for three of the above four factors. Factor # 3 is usually the barrier to placing an item on electronic reserve. Generally, we consider Fair Use one complete book chapter, or up to 15% of a published work. Every request is evaluated for copyright compliance by the circulation staff. A staff member will contact you if a reading that you have requested does not comply. If your request cannot be processed due to copyright restrictions, we will present you with options, which may include:

Reducing the number of pages requested.
Placing the book on print reserve at the circulation desk. Students will then be able to read or photocopy from the book.
Seeking permission from the copyright owner. It can take several weeks to obtain permission. Generally there is a fee involved, and if your request is a large percentage of a book it will still likely be denied. Please contact the Circulation Department at 315-859-4479  if you would like to explore this option.
If your reading is an entire work, but is small in size, such as a play or short story, the library can usually purchase multiple copies of the work to place on print reserve. There may also be an electronic version of the book which the library could purchase.

We cannot place items on physical reserve which are not owned by the library, the faculty member, or another Hamilton entity. (Therefore, we cannot borrow a book on Interlibrary Loan, then put it on reserve.)

For more information on copyright, please visit the Hamilton College Copyright Policy page.

The circulation department processes on average 1,500-2,000 reserves a semester, the majority of which are done within the first six weeks of class. Please give a date needed by or provide a syllabus that clearly denotes reserve readings and the date of the assignment.  Reserves without dates receive lower priority!

The circulation staff will make every effort to have electronic reserves assigned for the first two weeks of class online by the first day of the semester. For the remainder of the semester, readings will be made available two weeks before their assigned date, if not sooner. The amount of time it takes to process one request also depends heavily on the accuracy of the information received in the request. Researching an incomplete citation, locating a photocopy of a title page, or making adjustments for copyright compliance can all delay the process by several days. A circulation staff member will contact you if a problem prevents your reading from being made available in time.

Physical reserves already owned by the library typically can be put on reserve with 48 hours of the request. If the library's copy is currently charged out to another patron, it can take up to an additional week to process. This is especially true at the beginning of a semester when your students get to the books before we receive your requests! If the library does not own a copy of the requested book, a rush order request will be sent to the acquisitions department. Processing time for purchase requests depends on the availability of the book. If you have a personal copy of the book, we're happy to place it on reserve temporarily, until the library's copy is received. One copy of a book is typically ordered. A special request must be made to order multiple copies.

At the end of the semester, electronic reserves are taken offline and archived. We encourage you to either print or save pdfs from your course to your own computer before the end of the semester.  Library materials are returned to the stacks for regular circulation. Personal copies are delivered to department offices.


Amanda Bordeau
Access Services Assistant

Elizabeth Brotherton
Access Services Assistant

Katrina Schell
Access Services Librarian

Beth Bohstedt
Director, Learning & Research Services


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Burke Library
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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