Skip to main content

Ebooks for Faculty: Getting Started

How UAFS faculty can use ebooks as part of the resources provided to students.


Using Ebooks guide.

Download Adobe Digital Editions software.

Obtain an Adobe ID.

Supported eBook reader devices for Adobe Digital Editions.

Search the catalog for sources of free ebooks.


Library Contact Information

University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

Boreham Library

813 North Waldron

Fort Smith, AR  72904






Ebooks for UAFS Faculty

Wherever you may have used ebooks before, and whatever the rules were there, PLEASE READ THIS GUIDE FIRST before assigning ebooks to students at UAFS.

Before making any other assumptions, please assume the following:

1. Assume every ebook is an exception to what you expect -- because it may very well be.

The Library deals with a number of different vendors for ebooks.  Many of those vendors cover many publishers.  EVERY PUBLISHER HANDLES EBOOK USE THEIR OWN WAY.  It's their copyright so that is their privilege.  They also reserve the right to change conditions or refuse to renew contracts with vendors.

So, an ebook (for example) from the vendor Ebsco from publisher A may not allow the same viewing/downloading rights as an ebook from publisher B.  Or, publisher A may pull some or all ebooks out of the vendor's (and our) catalog.

Please don't make assumptions based on the specific publisher (rights can vary from title to title with a single publisher) or the type of material (some publishers are very limiting with titles you might not expect would get much use, for example).  

Especially don't make assumptions based on availability to purchase for individual use.  A number of publishers currently refuse to allow libraries to have their ebooks, while selling them to individuals.  The Library cannot legally download an ebook licensed for an individual, and then make it available without observing copyright law.  Some publishers do not have ebooks at all, yet.

2. Assume that only one person can view/download an ebook at a time.

Yes, perhaps it was different elsewhere.  That's usually because additional rights were purchased, or another service was used, and perhaps because at that time, the publisher allowed different things (which can change!).  But one person/one ebook is the default here with most of our vendors.

Also, the official instructions say that nobody else can view an ebook while it is "checked out" for downloading.  This may or may not always be the case (vendors are still working out the kinks in their systems), but assume that's how it is supposed to work.

A few ebooks have been purchased with multiple users, but not all vendors offer this, and not for all titles. Please ask and we'll try!

3. Assume that if you want to assign an ebook to a class, for several students or all students, you need to contact the Library.

Please contact the Technical Services Librarian: or 788-7206 with the title(s) you want to assign.

The title(s) can be checked by us to see if (first) multi-user rights are available at all, and (second) how much it will cost.

In some cases, multi-user prices may NOT be available, and therefore multiple copies of the ebook would need to be purchased.  It might be more cost-effective to purchase paper copies than ebooks in some cases (a $30 ebook versus a $15 print book, for example), but that is determined on a case-by-case basis; if you have distance education students, they might need ebooks regardless.

Also, we cannot limit ebooks to certain people (such as just the distance students); all control is through the vendors, and they haven't worked out a way to limit users by individuals as yet.

In a few cases (classical literature, for example), we may be able to find alternate editions of works in the public domain.  These can be brought into the library catalog and used like any other ebooks, but with fewer or no restrictions.

4. Assume students will want to download ebooks.

Most students do not want to sit in the library and read ebooks on a screen.  While all our ebooks are available for viewing online (except when they are checked out for downloading, in many cases), not every user has the necessary Internet access at all times.

Hence, many students tend to prefer to download to their computers, tablets and phones.  It's a Generation Y thing, and likely to carry into the next generation.

5. Assume not all ebooks will be available for downloading.

Rights available through libraries are NOT the same as you get if you buy an ebook outright.  Libraries may not be allowed to let some titles be downloaded, even though the same title can be purchased by individuals and downloaded through various sources.  Again, publishers decide.

Please contact the Technical Services Librarian: or 788-7206 with the title(s) you want to assign.

6. Assume the formats will be limited.

First: no Kindle ebooks.

That means, no Kindle format (.azw).  Please see the tab on Kindle Users for limits.  The new Kindle Fire tablets should be able to use Android apps such as Bluefire to read our ebooks (but we haven't got one to test that), and the app may be complicated to load.

If an ebook is available in Kindle format, it may be available in another format, or it may not.  If not, we cannot get it. Direct purchases of Kindle ebooks are not intended for use by libraries, only for the limited devices owned by one person.
The Fort Smith Public Library uses a vendor called Overdrive, but it is not that extensive on academic ebooks, it does not cover all the Kindle ebooks (so even the one you want may not be available even if we had Overdrive), and the cost of subscribing is not within our budget at this time.

However, ebooks may or may not be limited to Kindle format.  We may be able to obtain access through another vendor, in another format.

Other ebooks are usually in either .epub or .pdf formats, and normally protected/limited by DRM (Digital Rights Management).  We have instructions on using these with Adobe Digital Editions (for Windows or Mac), or Bluefire (iOS or Android apps for tablets and phones).  The Using Ebooks guide includes step-by-step instructions for these.

Also -- a vendor called Overdrive has their own app for iOS/Android.  It does not work reliably for our ebooks.

However, Adobe Digital Editions works with the .epub format ebooks from Boreham Library and Overdrive ebooks in epub format.

7. Assume that ebooks rights may fluctuate.

In some cases, this includes the possibility that today, for this user, at this moment, they might be able to check out and download a title another student already checked out and downloaded.  And in the next minute, the next user might not.  (Some vendors are still working out the kinks in their systems and their rights management.)

Publishers change (and are bought and sold).  Contracts with ebook vendors have been known to change, and suddenly you can't do today what you could do yesterday.  Some publishers are pulling ebooks out to set up their own vending systems, or to emphasize individual purchasing, or some other reason known only to them.  That is their right, but it can be confusing for ebook users.

Having the Library officially go through the steps to purchase multi-user rights will guarantee all the students you assign should always be able to do this, as long as permitted by contract.

8. Assume you need to contact the Library before making ebook assignments for any single title for more than one student in a semester.

Yet again, Please contact the Technical Services Librarian: or 788-7206 with the title(s) you want to assign.

And now, please refer to the regular Using Ebooks guide.


The Boreham Library recommends Adobe Digital Editions because the current standard is to use an Adobe I.D. to enable readers, and ADE is available for both iOS and Windows systems.

Bluefire is recommended because it uses the Adobe I.D. standard, and is functional for iOS and Android.

It is not practical to try to test and teach every possible device and reader app on every operating system, so these apps are a compromise. No reimbursement has been offered or provided.


Technical Services Librarian

Dennis Van Arsdale's picture
Dennis Van Arsdale
Boreham Library 136, 813 N. Waldron, Fort Smith AR 72903