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Faculty Information: Preparing Your Courses

Preparing Courses

Requesting New Resources

Our Collecting Philosophy

At Williams, we: 

  • build our collections to support teaching and learning
  • welcome recommendations from Williams faculty, students, and staff
  • are committed to collecting resources by, about, and that are important to those with social identities that have been historically, and are still, minoritized in our community

We prioritize purchasing materials that directly serve current and projected curricular needs.  We also more selectively acquire materials that support faculty research and the programmatic needs of the broader campus community. See the Williams Libraries Collection Development Policy for more information.

Members of the Williams community may use the Suggest a Purchase form to request materials incurring a one-time cost. When requesting purchases, please provide us with as much notice as possible before the materials are needed. The library has initiated a program to purchase select books from Olive Tree Books-n-Voices, an independent, Black-owned bookstore in Springfield, Massachusetts, instead of from Amazon. As a smaller operation, Olive Tree requires a bit more time to fill orders. Even a few extra days of lead time can make the difference between ordering from Amazon and ordering from Olive Tree.

For the most part, we acquire these single items on receipt of request. However, library liaisons will first review purchase suggestions for materials that do not directly support the curriculum or require significant expenditure. We assess requests for ebooks that are significantly more costly than their print counterparts according to how well they meet the following preferred criteria:

  • Relevance to curricular or programmatic need that would drive long-term recurrent moderate demand
  • Significant number of college community users served by the resource
  • Anticipated use of the entire work
  • Availability of institutional licensing terms
  • IP authentication (including off-campus authentication) rather than password access
  • Long term access
  • Unlimited concurrent users
  • Free of digital rights management software
  • Allowances for printing, copying, and resource sharing
  • Meets current standards for Web accessibility
  • Coverage in indexing and abstracting services, Google Scholar, Discover, and other access tools
  • Protection of individual user rights to privacy and confidentiality
  • Protection for authors / institutions rights to scholarly communication

A Collections and Systems Department member or your liaison librarian will communicate acquisition decisions with you via email.

Due to the ongoing financial commitment required to maintain subscriptions and the potential for annual price increases to impact the entire resource budget, library liaisons and the Head of Collections and Systems review and evaluate requests for these resources twice a year: journals in the fall and databases in the spring.

Make a request at any time by emailing your liaison librarian. Submit requests for new journals no later than September 15th and those for databases by February 15th. Include the following information:

  • Title of resource
  • Publisher / Platform / Distributor
  • Link to information about resource if available
  • Relevance to the curriculum
  • Evidence of extent of need
  • Level of support for the request within or across departments / programs

We evaluate resources on an ongoing basis during the fall and spring. Liaisons may request additional supporting information or the Libraries may establish a trial for the resource during that period. Decisions will be made in November and April respectively so that subscriptions and access can begin with January issues of journals and July access to databases.

Decisions are based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the curriculum and anticipated long-term instructional need
  • Number of potential college community users served by the resource
  • Relation to similar content already included in the Williams Libraries Collections
  • Availability of institutional licensing terms
  • IP authentication (including off-campus authentication) rather than password access
  • Provision of long term access
  • Number of concurrent users
  • Allowances for printing, copying, and resource sharing
  • Meets current standards for Web accessibility
  • Coverage in indexing and abstracting services, Google Scholar, Discover, and other access tools
  • Protection of individual user rights to privacy and confidentiality
  • Protection for authors / institutions rights to scholarly communication
  • Cost of the subscription and annual increases

A list of the resources currently under consideration and decisions made will be available on the Libraries' website. Additionally, your library liaison will communicate acquisition decisions with you via email. The Libraries also report the current year’s subscriptions added and cancelled in the annual report to the Library Committee.

Placing items on Reserve

Library reserve is commonly used to 

  • provide supplemental readings
  • make an item available throughout an entire semester

While we encourage you to prioritize providing online access to course materials (through Glow), when online access is not an option (library can't secure online access; source can't be digitized for copyright reasons; interaction with the tangible object is necessary), the library offers a reserve service for tangible items. 

You may place on reserve:

  • books
  • video recordings
  • sound recordings
  • other physical library items 
  • personal copies (if the library does not own a copy) 

Set up and manage your course reserve: 

  • If you have requested items in the past (including streaming films), login in to the Course Reserve system to manage your list. 
  • To add new items to your Reserve list:
    • Materials already in the library: start in the library catalog, locate item , use the "Request for Reserve/Streaming" link for each item you want to add.
    • Items not already in the library: start on the Suggest A Purchase form
  • Turn around time:
    • At the start of a new semester, requests must be submitted at least two weeks before material is needed
    • During the term, requests must be submitted at least one week before material is needed 

For question about the library's Reserve services, please contact Mary Dzbenski in Access Services.

Streaming Services

We offer:

Terms of library digitizing Services:  

  • Only for library-owned materials
  • Only for films taught in a course 
  • Only when film license does not prohibit streaming

How to request streaming:  

Start in the library catalog: search for the film by title

  1. If the library owns the film
    • Click "Request for Reserve/Streaming" to request the film to be digitized and streamed

  2. If the library does not own the film
    • Use the Suggest A Purchase form (we need to purchase a copy because we only stream library-owned materials)
    • ​Be sure to indicate that it is a priority 1 request and ask for the film to be placed on reserve
    • Answer yes to the streaming question
  3. If the library owns a digitized version (with a link in the library catalog), you may either
    • Link to  that film directly from your Glow course
    • Include it in your Course Reserve request and we will link it for you

For each request, the library will research streaming rights to determine whether we can legally provide a streamed version. If we can proceed with streaming, films will be made available through your Glow course and you will receive an email notification from the Access Services department.  

In the event that we are not legally able to provide a streamed version, we will place the DVD on Reserve for your course.

What's included in the streamed version:

  • When available, English subtitles will be streamed for foreign language films.  If you do not want subtitles included, check that option in the request form
  • Bonus features are not streamed unless you request it by contacting the Access Services - Reserve Assistant, after you submit your request.

Turn around time:  
Streaming requests are processed in the order in which they're received.  Investigation of streaming rights and digitization of the film may take anywhere from 1 day to 4 weeks, depending on the volume of requests.

Support / More Information: 

Including the Library in Course Materials

  • When organizing your readings in GLOW, download PDFs and add them to GLOW, instead of linking directly to the source.
  • Provide your readings in context.  Students often use reading materials as a starting point for their own research. When a source is not well documented, the loss of context is a frequent source of confusion and frustration. To alleviate this problem, we strongly encourage you to: 
    • include a full citation for each source that you include 
    • include the table of contents of the book/journal from which the reading comes from - this provides the thematic context for the piece
    • Include the endnotes and bibliography for book chapters
  • If you expect students to search for / find resources on their own:
  • To help students navigate how to cite sources (a great source of anxiety for many students):
  • To support your students with the acquisition of critical research skills:
    Williams College does not have a required course where students learn basic research skills, so we encourage you to think about ways you can include research skills acquisition into your courses.  

Teaching Research Skills

Williams College does not have a required course where students learn basic research skills. Instead, library instruction liaisons and Special Collections librarians work with faculty to integrate research skills into their courses. As you prepare your courses, please consider the following options for library instruction. 

Asynchronous Options

  • Embed a librarian in your Glow course. The librarian could

    • Post customized instruction videos in the course

      • Example:  a recording of a Q & A interview between the librarian and professor about doing research for the course

      • Example: a screencast introducing the course research guide and resources

    • Post general instruction videos in course

    • Create and monitor asynchronous discussion threads 

      • Example: Students do a guided document analysis of digitized manuscripts and/or rare books and discuss

      • Example: Students view Algorithms of Oppression and discuss how search engine bias affects research

    • Create an online quiz or other assignment to assess student learning of asynchronous instruction component

  • Select content from the Information Literacy Toolkit to use in your Glow course

  • Request a customized course research guide

  • Encourage student to use our Ask a Librarian service

Synchronous Options

  • Schedule an in-person session in a library classroom or your course classroom. We partner with faculty to support the research goals for the course. We can teach topics such as:
    • formulating a research question
    • searching strategically
    • examining search engine bias and systems of power in libraries
    • evaluating news and web sources
    • managing information using EndNote
    • writing a literature review
      and more! 

    It is best if the concepts learned in the library session can be applied to an assignment in your course. If you do not have such an assignment, see our Creating Information Literacy Assignments page or ask your library liaison for ideas.

  • Use a flipped classroom approach with video(s)/assignment done beforehand and an in-person class session to extend and deepen the learning.
  • Schedule a brief class visit.
    • Example: Introduction of the liaison librarian and encouragement to schedule research appointments

    • Example: Introduction of the liaison librarian and research guide for the course

    • Example: Introduction to digitized sources in Special Collections

  • Encourage students to schedule individual or group research appointments
    • In Special Collections: individual appointments for students to consult with material. Works best if there’s a specific assignment the students are responding to, like a short presentation or writing assignment. Contact Special Collections to schedule an appointment.

    • For Sawyer and Schow:  Students can use the research appointments scheduler.


Contact your library instruction liaison or Special Collections.

Working with Special Collections

What is Special Collections? 

The Special Collections department comprises Chapin Library and College Archives. It provides access to rare and unique materials. 

Chapin Library collects rare books, manuscripts, and other primary source materials, both ancient and modern, in support of the Williams curriculum.

 The College Archives is concerned with the history of Williams, and administers other special collections and books from the earliest libraries of the College.

How to work with materials in Special Collections

  • You may discover many resources through the library catalog. Consult a Special Collections librarian to learn about the complete scope of the collection, including uncataloged materials.   
  • Some materials have been digitized and are available through UNBOUND, the college's institutional repository
  • Materials do not circulate, but are available for use in the reading room (Sawyer, room 441)
  • Reading room hours

Including Special Collections materials in your courses

Special Collections librarians are available to work with you and your students.  They offer:   

  • Class presentations and instruction sessions tailored to faculty needs
  • Instruction on research methods using rare books and archives
  • Short-term collaborative exhibitions related to coursework in the Instruction Gallery
  • Talks about Special Collections displays, including the Founding Documents of the United States
  • Research appointments 

Faculty are invited to suggest special collections acquisitions in support of courses or research interests.

Presentations and instruction sessions are offered in these spaces: 

  • Special Collections Instruction Room (Sawyer Room 452), seating 24
  • Seminar Room, seating 8
  • Galleries

Archiving your Syllabi

College Archives archives course syllabi for several purposes:

  • as a reference copy for students in your course
  • as a reference copy for students exploring which courses to take
  • as proof of the content of a course for students going to graduate school
  • as a historical record of courses provided at Williams College​

We archive syllabi in electronic form only. Please e-mail your syllabi as attachments to

For further information about collections and services or to schedule an appointment contact a Special Collections librarian


GLOW and library resources

The library works closely with the Office of Information Technology to integrate library content (articles, book chapters, streaming media) and services (Research Guides, Ask A Librarian service) into your GLOW courses. To that end we offer: 

  • Scanning services to enable you to integrate library-owned books and journal articles in Glow 
  • Streaming Services to make library films available through Glow
  • Integration of Research Guides, highlighting resources and search strategies and created by librarians for your course 

For assistance with library resources, contact your library liaison 

For assistance with uploading content into Glow, contact your Academic Technology Consulant

Scanning Services


  • Free photocopying is available to faculty and their designated proxies, by using the copier by-pass keys (available at the Circulation Desk in Sawyer and Services Desk in Schow). Locations of photocopiers:
    • Sawyer - Level 3 Printing/Photocopying Room (321)
    • Sawyer - Level 1 Printing/Photocopying Room (121)
  • Document senders (scanners with email delivery) are available in Sawyer and Schow and enable easy creation of PDFs

Library Service

Faculty may request scans of library materials. 

  • We will scan journal articles or book chapters/sections
  • Limit to one copy of each article or book chapter (due to copyright restrictions)
  • Multiple chapters of a book will be copied only after obtaining permission
  • Scans will be delivered via your interlibrary loan account within 24 hours Monday-Friday (no service on weekends; Friday requests are delivered on Monday afternoon.

To request scans: submit requests through the interlibrary loan system

Advising Theses Students

All honors theses written by Williams undergraduates are treated as holdings of the Williams College Libraries.  Faculty advising student honors theses should review the College's theses guidelines and share this information with their students. Faculty should be aware of guidelines and procedures, including format and title page guidelines, student/faculty release requirements, and deposit deadlines.  

Students submit their thesis electronically as a pdf using our form. The faculty advisor will be asked via email to approve the student's selections regarding access to the thesis.

Theses without access restrictions are available in Unbound: Williams Online Collections.

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are free or highly affordable textbooks and learning materials that can be widely shared and/or transformed with the permission of the original author. 

OER Resources

OER Textbooks

Open Course Materials

Open Journals

Open AudioVisual

Creative Commons

Curious about what Creative Commons licensing means or how you can employ it to share your materials and protect them at the same time? Check out the Creative Commons Licensing research guide from Hudson Valley Community College.