How do I use Digital Textbooks?

A digital textbook is a textbook that the library has scanned and made available through OneSearch.

Accessing digital textbooks

If you encounter a digital textbook without being signed in, you will see information about the book, but no link. Sign in using the prompt to proceed.

View Online area of digital textbook with login prompt and reading options

When you've signed in, the phrase Digital Textbook will be a link, which you can click to open the textbook. In some cases you might see two links leading to different viewers. Experiment to see which you prefer.

You will also see the limitations on using the textbook. In some cases the textbook can only be viewed by a few, or even just one person, at a time. If the textbook is already being used by its maximum number, you will see a link inviting you to add yourself to the waitlist. Click that link, then confirm on the next page.

Digital Textbook - user limit reached. Add yourself to the waitlist. Four-hour loan. Access limited to one user at a time.

When the textbook becomes available, you will receive an email notification. From the moment you receive the email, you will have 15 minutes to start viewing the resource; after that passes, if you haven't viewed the resource, it becomes available to the next person in the waitlist.

Using digital textbooks

Please be aware of the following features:

  • Zooming in and out. Look for plus (+) and minus (-) signs to adjust the text, to make it more readable.
  • Contents pane. This area to the left will help you navigate through parts of the book (usually chapters).
  • Full-screen. You might be better able to read the text if you open it in full-screen view.
  • Time remaining. An hourglass icon will show you how much time is left in your session, after which the textbook access will end. If there is nobody waiting for the textbook at that point, you will be able to open it again.
  • Return early. If you are done using your textbook, please click Return Early! Doing so will allow anyone waiting for their turn to get to access to the textbook more quickly.

Note that you will not be able to download the source PDF files to your computer, but you should be able to copy/paste short passages.

If you notice problems with your digital textbook, please use the Report a problem button, or, if you need immediate help, use the Ask a Librarian live chat service.

Why the limitations?

As noted above, there are limits on how many people can view digital textbooks simultaneously, and the library doesn't provide PDF copies that you could save to your computer. These limitations are required by copyright law. We do not have a license to distribute online copies of the textbook, so we are treating each use of the digital textbook as a digital loan, similar to how we loan out books in print format from our circulation desk. In fact, for each student who is able to view a digital textbook simultaneously, there is a legally obtained physical copy sitting on a shelf in the library. This model of library access is called controlled digital lending.

It would be much easier if we could purchase licenses for textbooks through vendors such as EBSCO or ProQuest, from whom we purchase most of our ebooks. But many of the most common publishers of academic textbooks prefer not to allow libraries to purchase ebook licenses.

Last Updated: Jan 29, 2023     Views: 20

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