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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning


“It may not be possible in every circumstance to provide appropriate access to the material required for teaching during the current emergency, and we would strongly advise teaching staff to produce reading lists that make use where possible of existing and newly acquired electronic content.”



Cambridge University Libraries are working to assist academics and students moving to an online teaching environment.

Our current top priority is on sourcing online readings for teaching and assessment purposes for Easter Term. It takes time to identify and acquire alternative material in time for new and existing courses and your faculty or departmental library team are the best places to start with when asking for online material. A full contact list of libraries for academics and students requesting that an ebook is sourced is available on the the main University Library website.

Give library staff as much notice as you can with your requests as we are experiencing a very high number of requests from students and academics. It is also important to note that there is no guarantee that publishers have content in electronic format (see also more reasons why an eBook may not always be available).


Options to explore or ask library staff to assist you with:

  • Check the lists of new online resources regularly being made available – these lists may not be updated in iDiscover.
  • Copyright-compliant scans: you can find guidance on providing scanned journal articles and book chapters via Moodle, or contact local library staff who will be able to assist you. If you own a copy of a book which is also owned or subscribed to by the University, it may be possible for you to produce your own scan, but there are restrictions in place so please consult Library staff or email the copyright helpdesk:
  • Moodle archive (Course History) is accessible online and may have copies of material used over the past 5 years. Contact local Moodle coordinators for advice.


How do I make sure that a scan is accessible for everyone?

Play video on Microsoft Stream

Advice about making accessible teaching materials is available on the Disability Resource Centre website.

To make a scan, rather than take a photograph, use Microsoft Office Lens (download to your phone) and convert the image into a pdf, Word document (with Optical Character Recognition), or open with an immersive reader to hear it read. Free to download and saves files to your@cam OneDrive.  Google Keep is an alternative way of capturing text in an image, which can be converted to a Google Doc.

You can convert a wide range of files into alternative formats by directly uploading a file to SensusAccess. It is not expected that you would provide a single resource in many different formats however; rather, it might be helpful to ensure your students are aware of SensusAccess should they need to create alternative formats themselves, and to provide resources in a form which is as accessible as possible so that it can be converted more easily.

Whenever taking photos of resources, especially books, try to use good, natural light and make them as flat as possible to assist with conversion to machine readable text.

How do I quickly source some online readings for my students?
Do we have extra resources available during the Covid-19 period?
What information do you need to source online resources?

Play video on Microsoft Stream

Useful links:

How do I link to an eBook in my reading list?
Can I scan parts of a book in my study?

Play video on Microsoft Stream

Note: the video above refers to changes to the CLA Higher Education Licence which were put in place temporarily, and came to an end on 30 June. We are monitoring for further updates.

The University holds a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Licence, which enables University staff to scan book chapters and journal articles for teaching purposes, subject to terms and conditions. Scans can be distributed to students enrolled on the relevant course via a secure password-protected network such as Moodle.

The key licence terms to be aware of are:

  • Not all materials are covered by the CLA Higher Education Licence; a 'Check Permisions' tool is available on the CLA website or your Faculty / Department Librarian will be happy to check for you.
  • A source copy of the print work must be owned or subscribed to by the University.
  • For works included within the Licece, one article / chapter or 10% of the total work - whichever is greater - can be scanned.
  • All scans must include a CLA Copyright Notice and should be reported to the CLA Designated Reporter, who is normally your Faculty / Department Librarian.

If you would like to provide a scanned article or book extract for your students, please contact your Faculty / Department library team in the first instance to see if an e-copy is available. If not, a scan can be made and the library team can assist in providing the relevant Copyright Notice.

More information about what can be copied under the CLA Higher Education Licence and how it can be made available to students is available on the Student Systems website. If you have any questions, or are unsure of how to proceed, you can also contact the copyright helpdesk at any point: