UW Libraries Blog

June 2, 2020

Faculty Guidance for Choosing Online Materials

UW Libraries

Why choose online alternatives to standard textbooks or physical course readings? 

 1) Ease of use. These existing resources are immediately available and avoid potential delays (sometimes of several weeks!) that may occur in trying to source and license new electronic materials for courses. 

2) More equitable access. In accordance with existing UW guidance, all classes (online or in-person) this fall should “ensure that all students can complete their coursework, even if they are unable to attend in-person classes due to illness or higher risk of health complications from the coronavirus.” The same consideration should be given to students who are not able to access the Libraries for similar reasons. In particular, open textbooks provide students with more equitable access to content in many subjects–they are available right away; are free online; and students can have copies printed locally at low cost.

NOTE: It is important to consider that not all e-resources are accessible for all needs. Please see the following guidance to help select accessible course materials:  

3) Less strain on limited resources. Using these existing alternatives limits additional expenditures from collections budgets and allows Libraries staff to support a broader number of courses and researchers. 

Where can I find out more information or get assistance?  

  • Check out the many resources listed on the  Libraries Remote Resources and Services  page under  “Online Resources for Teaching” and “Streaming Video”. 
  • Read through the Libraries Faculty and Student Remote Service FAQs 
  • Don’t forget about Interlibrary Loan (ILL): ILL continues to fill requests for articles and book chapters. Any requests that cannot be filled with electronic resources will be requested from other libraries.


We are here to help. Reach out now to your subject librarians, who can partner with you to identify online e-book/streaming resources that are already available.  Finding and orchestrating e-resources can be a complex process, and we are here to help you navigate the system to find what you need. Reaching out now–far in advance of autumn quarter–allows for adequate time to identify materials that will be the best fit, and to help achieve your course objectives. 










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