In academic libraries, materials which are temporarily made available, usually at the request of an instructor, for a limited borrowing period (one-hour, overnight, 3-day, or 7-day) to assure access to members of a group, usually the students enrolled in a specific course. Reserve materials are often restricted to library-use only, though this is not always the case. The fines charged for overdue reserve items are usually higher than for material which is not on reserve, to encourage users to return the material so that others may have access to it. Some academic libraries provide electronic access to reserve materials.
Reserve readings are often course materials selected for limited-time circulation so that all students can have access to them. (Libraries cannot afford multiple copies, especially of frequently obsolescent textbooks.) Late fees for reserve readings can be quite high.
Many libraries have moved their reserve readings online (such as by scanning print materials or linking to electronic journals), often with limited access (such as to campus Internet addresses and/or requiring a login). Courseware and other OPAC systems offer components for cataloging and presenting electronic reserves.
As with interlibrary loan practices, the copyright compliance and fair use of library reserves is a frequent topic of debate. For example, in 2005 a pro-publishers group asserted that placing materials on electronic reserves always requires permission from the copyright holder.