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eBook FAQ

A comprehensive FAQ to get you started with eBooks at Duke

Assigning eBooks for class

Q: Can all students in a class read the assigned eBook at the same time?

A:  Yes and no. Publishers set restrictions on how eBooks may be accessed and used. Librarians agree to these terms when we purchase the book for Duke's collection and the most common restriction is on concurrent use of the eBook. Restrictions to eBook access includes a limit to a single-user, three-at-a-time, up to 300 uses (total) annually and other use restrictions, including "unlimited", which is the most expensive option.


Q: Can a librarian change the access to a book if requested?

A: It depends on the publisher's access restrictions. Some books are sold only as single-user. If they have the funds, and the book is available as unlimited or multiple-user,  librarians may use their collections budget to pay to change the access to a title.


Q: If there is an access restriction on an eBook assigned for class, can students access the eBook through another library?

A: No. eBooks are not available via InterLibrary Loan, even within the TRLN, though there are often print copies of eBooks available.


Q: How can I tell if an eBook assigned for class use is broadly accessible?

A: You can check on the accessibility in the library catalog.

  • Do a title search to check the library catalog record of the book, specifically the notes in the "details" tab  near the bottom of the record. If the book has been purchased for Duke Libraries since 2013, the access restrictions will be found there. For example:












  • If the use restriction is absent, unintelligible or not what you need it to be, please contact or search for the Subject Librarian  in your discipline. Ideally you would do this before the class starts so that there is plenty of time to accommodate or change an access restriction.
  • Often there is a print version of the book on reserve in the library.