Legal Solutions in Electronic Reserves and the Electronic Delivery of Interlibrary Loan

by Janet Brennan Croft


Haworth Press, 2004; published simultaneously as a monograph and as v.14 #3 of Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve.  To order direct from Haworth, click here. To order from Amazon, click here.

If your institution subscribes to Haworth Publications, you may be able to read the electronic version here.

What legal issues arise because of the differences between physical and electronic reserves, and between the physical and electronic delivery of interlibrary loan?  This book is designed to guide the practitioner through the process of developing legal policies for electronic reserves and electronic ILL delivery.  I begin with an overview of copyright and confidentiality laws, with copyright the primary focus; I then examine the philosophy and regulations behind the guidelines for these popular library services; and finally I suggest questions to be addressed in library policies. This book emphasizes that librarians should make every effort to defend their patrons' rights and exceptions, and to negotiate favorable contracts for electronic resources.  Included are the texts of the most important laws and guidelines, a list of important cases, information on pending legislation, and a bibliography of useful print and internet resources for the practitioner. (Please note the author is not a lawyer, and you should always consult your institution's own lawyer if you have legal questions.)

Topics covered:


“IMPORTANT READING. . . . A handy reference guide to basic principles, key concerns, and emerging developments—including hot topics like privacy and confidentiality.”
  • Jeff Rosedale, MLS, Assistant Library Director, Manhattanville College Library
“This is A TIMELY TEXT that will help new practitioners and any manager hard-pressed to keep up with legislative changes. While geared to academic libraries, the legislative review, pertinent legal content, and tips and tools covered in this informative text will also be helpful to public and special librarians. Publishers worried about open access to their copyrighted material would do well to read it as well, as it should reassure them about current library practices in ILL and Reserves. It is great to see a book that treats these topics in an integrated fashion as the issues covered can impact both ILL and Reserves.”
  • Lynn Wiley, MSLS, Head, Information Resource and Retrieval Center, and Associate Professor of Library Administration, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

"Librarians in charge of electronic reserves and interlibrary loan need to be well-versed in copyright law... Croft explores the topic in Legal Solutions."

"...a USEFUL ADDITION to the shelves of academic libraries ... a basic primer for capturing the essence of the increasingly complex and rapidly changing technological and legal landscape of electronic reserves and electronic delivery."

" ...excellent summaries...a QUICK PRIMER for those concerned with copyright and electronic information in libraries...succinct overview of the issues..."

"...comprehensive explanation of copyright law ... the bibliography is a goldmine ... an indispensable reference tool."


Useful links:


ARL Report on Electronic Reserves and Fair Use:

University of Minnesota copyright decision-making tree:

Copyright on the Internet:

The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance:

The Public Domain:

When Works Pass Into the Public Domain:

Sources of electronic out-of-copyright material: 

There are many sources online for public-domain e-books and shorter works, both fiction and non-fiction.  In some cases a link to one of these resources could satisfy an electronic reserve or interlibrary loan request with no need to be concerned about fair use – providing a link to publicly available material is not a violation of copyright law.  Many sites even have very obscure or foreign language resources.  A caveat: Project Gutenberg of Australia is subject to a different schedule of copyright expiration.  Items which may be legal to display on their site may not be legal to display on a US site. The difficulty of disentangling jurisdiction may protect you, but the safest thing to do is run them through Gasaway’s public domain chart before linking. 

 Blackmask Online:

 The Online Book Page:

 Project Gutenberg:

 University of Virginia’s EText Center:


 Project Gutenberg Australia:

  The Latin Library:

 Christian Classics Ethereal Library:

 An Online Library of Literature:

 Perseus Digital Library:

 International Children’s Digital Library:

 Alex Catalog of Electronic Texts:

 Victorian Women Writers Project:

 Academy of American Poets:

 American Verse Project:

19th Century Women’s Poetry:

Sources of Permissions:

 Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.:

 Copyright Office Records:

 Music Publisher’s Association:

 Getting Permission:

 Copyright Resources on the web:

 United States Copyright Office:

 Legal Information Institute:

 Copyright Quickguide:

 Coalition for Networked Information:

 Stanford University Libraries Copyright and Fair Use page:

 Copyright Crash Course:

 Library Law:

 Reserves Resources:

Electronic Reserves Clearinghouse:

 Copyright and Electronic Reserves:

 ReserveWeb Links:

 Music Library Association Guidelines:


Interlibrary Loan Resources:

 ILLWeb Codes and Guidelines:

 IFLANET Interlibrary loan links:

List-servs and Discussion Groups:


 Association of Research Libraries Electronic Reserves Discussion List:

 Docutek E-Res Users Group:

 CNI Copyright Forum:



 Updated 3/28/2006  Janet B. Croft