This semester professors are using Electronic Reserve more than
ever before. ERes, a site upon which Oberlin students are provided
with immediate access to class materials, can be reached through
the Oberlin website.
For the College, ERes conquers a lot of would-be copyright concerns.
Unlike articles that are photocopied and handed out in class, ERes
articles have to pass through many hands before being scanned. This
process ensures that unintentional copyright violations will be
noticed before the materials are distributed. ERes guidelines also
notify professors that they must include a notice of copyright with
“I had to lead a discussion group about three articles on
reserve [but] when I was gathering quotes the library was already
closed, so it was nice to have [the sources] on ERes — right
in my dorm room,” sophomore Julie Medalie said. Because the
reserve room is open only until 11:45 p.m., and many students study
deep into the night, the availability of reserve materials from
one’s own computer is essential.
Yet ERes has the potential to help causes much larger than those
of sleep-deprived students and copyright lawyers. By eliminating
photocopies the College may be able to decrease the amount of paper
wasted on campus.
The influence of ERes on the environment, though, seems minute.
Some professors supplement ERes readings with handouts. Also, because
students find it tedious to read from computer screens, many students
print ERes articles.
“Ironically, where computers have become more [omni]present…people
[tend] to print more often…and so use more paper than they
previously consumed. This is an example of a so-called revenge effect
of a technology — it introduces an unanticipated change that
‘bites back’ in unexpected ways that can actually counterbalance
its apparent advantages,” environmental studies/philosophy
professor David Macauley said.
The process by which professors post articles on ERes is complicated.
Professors must turn ERes articles into the library three weeks
before classes commence—one week before other reserve materials
are due. The fact that loading articles onto ERes is so time consuming
may partially be responsible for the poor quality of the image,
and thus, the increasing number of ERes articles printed.
Professors note the ease with which students approach ERes readings.
It is because students appreciate being able to do assigned readings
from the comfort of their dorm rooms that professors continue to
post documents online. Professors use ERes because it provides “easier
access for students. More students can access the material at the
same time, [it is] easier to get a printed copy if needed, [and
there is] no problem with lost copies at the reserve room,”
economics professor Sylvestre Gaudin said.
Also, by providing course materials online, professors help ensure
that students will read assigned documents.
The main library electronic reserve guidelines recommend ERes to
professors because it eliminates competition between students in
the rush to access reserve material. ERes also allows students to
utilize information from books that are not yet available, are out
of print or are excessively expensive.
“I think ERes kicks ass,” sophomore Christopher Fry