Library Ebooks

There is considerable overlap between the general library collection and course-assigned readings such as academic monographs, edited collections, and literature. Library ebooks with multi-user licenses are a viable zero-cost alternative for students. Instructors are encouraged to communicate with their librarian liaison about whether their chosen course materials are available as library ebooks. Instructors may also explore the existing library ebook collection when considering titles to adopt. 

Library Digital Course Materials Purchasing Policy

Library purchasing of ebooks that are assigned for class reading is guided by the Library Digital Course Materials Purchasing Policy. Instructors should consult with Library Acquisitions and/or their liaison librarian with questions about specific titles.  

Finding ebooks in the library collection

MUSCAT Plus can be used to quickly check if an ebook is already available to the Gettysburg College community:

  1. Use the drop-down menu next to the search bar, select “Library Catalog” and enter your search terms.
  2. In the search results, use the Narrow Your Results panel on the left of the screen to choose:
    1. Source Types: Books;
    2. Limit to: Available Online
  3. Click Apply Filters. This search should now display our available ebooks.

The Library has also made a short tutorial detailing this process.

Publishers apply different restrictions to the ebook access (e.g., how many users can access simultaneously, amount of the book that can be downloaded). While these restrictions are sometimes detailed on the ebook page, instructors can also direct questions about access and restrictions to their liaison librarian.

Linking to digital library materials

Instructors are encouraged to link to digital library materials in syllabi or Moodle course sites rather than copying and uploading pdfs. No copyright clearance is necessary when linking to materials (because no copy is being made).

  • In MUSCAT Plus, use the Permalink. The Permalink can be found in the full record for the item.
  • In EBSCOhost databases, use the Permalink. The Permalink can be found on the “Tools” menu in the full record.
  • In ProQuest databases, use the browser URL (no special permalink necessary)

Statement on textbooks, publishers, and libraries

In order to support instructors and students who are seeking affordable options and may be teaching and learning online, librarians are constantly looking for new approaches to how we acquire course textbooks, especially for digital spaces.

However, this work is hampered by textbook publishers who do not provide electronic purchasing options for libraries. Textbook publishers have built their profit models around selling e-textbooks directly to students. Despite the library’s work to make copies of required textbooks available to assist students who are unable to purchase their own, we are unable to purchase an e-textbook version of many publications, due to restrictions from commercial textbook publishers, including:

  • Pearson
  • Cengage
  • McGraw Hill
  • Oxford University Press USA, Higher Education Group
  • Elsevier imprints (especially in the health sciences)

In courses that have adopted textbooks by these publishers, students who do not purchase the textbook will not have any alternative, digital access to the textbook content. Additionally, these publishers do not make access codes for ancillary materials (e.g., test banks, tutoring or homework software, etc.) available to libraries for purchase.

We are working with instructors to explore and identify viable textbook alternatives, including the use of library-licensed ebooks and open educational resources. If you have questions about your current textbooks or would like to explore alternate course materials, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your library liaison or contact

This statement has been adapted with permission from Commercial Textbooks Present Challenges in a Virtual Environment from the University of Guelph Library.