Course reserves

Course reserves are items which are in high demand for a particular course. The library places these items behind the circulation desk, at the request of the instructor, and they have a very short circulation period.

The Robin Li and Melissa Ma Science Library provides reserve services for the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics. We also maintain course guides about library resources for selected classes.

For students

You can request course reserve books at the Science Library circulation desk.

Find items on course reserve

  • Online: Search the course reserves catalog by course number or instructor.
  • At the Science Library: Check the reserve binder located at the circulation desk. Courses are listed by course number, and reserve items for each course are listed by the author’s last name. Reserves include both print and e-reserves.

Use items on course reserve

  • Request items by author’s last name at the circulation desk. You must present your current Stanford ID to borrow items. Users are limited to two items at a time.
  • Items circulate from two hours to seven days as determined by the instructor. 
  • Items must be returned directly to the circulation desk so that they can be discharged and re-shelved promptly.
  • No holds or renewals are accepted. Reserve items can be checked out again by the same user if they are not needed by another user.
  • Return reserve items due at close to the circulation desk ten minutes before closing time.
  • Do not return reserve materials to the outside book drop unless the library is closed.

Help keep reserve items available for your colleagues by returning them on schedule.

Course reserve fines

Since ready and equal access to reserve items is vital for students taking classes with materials on reserve, stiff fines are assessed for late returns of items recalled for reserves and for reserve items kept beyond their loan period. For more information, see the Fines and fees page.

For instructors

Putting materials on reserve in the Science Library: Please allow adequate time to process lists. While some items may already be in the library, others may need to be recalled or purchased. Before each quarter, the Science Library sends an email to faculty with a reserves request reminder and instructions for the online form.

Submitting course reserve requests

Fill out the online Course Reserves Request form. This online version of the reserve request form gives you a way to create and edit the reserve list yourself or delegate this task to another person to do so on your behalf. 

If you have course reserve questions, please email If necessary, we can send a copy of the reserves list from the previous quarter for you to update.

About course reserve materials

Print books owned by Stanford: We will place all copies owned by Stanford University Libraries on reserve. 

Print books not owned by Stanford: It takes an average of six weeks to order, receive, and process print books that are not in our collection before we can add them to reserves.

E-Reserves: We will search all of the library licensed content sources for e-book versions of the books you want to place on reserve and notify you when we find matching titles. Links to electronic copies of articles and e-books can be included in your course management system sites.

Journal articles: We can place on reserve up to five photocopies of a copyrighted article by the fair use doctrine. You may need to obtain copyright clearance for photocopies before we can place them on reserve for you.

Online course readersLoading reading material into a course management system is equivalent to creating a printed course reader. While the printer generally takes responsibility for obtaining permissions for republication in a printed reader, a faculty member loading materials into the online course management system may need to take on the responsibility of obtaining permissions more directly. For more information, see Course Management Systems & Online Readers.

Personal copies of books, videos, CDs, or DVDs: Please attach a note with the instructor's name and campus address so items may be returned at the end of the quarter.

Homework sets, sample tests/exams, course notes: We strongly encourage you to include these materials in the course management system site for your course. You can scan these items and link them to your site so they are available to students outside of the library hours of operation.

Contact the Science Library (, (650) 723-1528) for more information or assistance.

For more information about reserves, see Stanford Libraries Course reserves page.