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Himmelfarb Library is allowing most books in the reserves collection to check out for a week. Reserves books are located behind the Circulation Desk and most titles directly support classroom learning and board study. In addition, some materials that were previously on reserves have been moved to the basement level stacks and now checkout for three weeks and are eligible for up to two renewals.

You can check the location of physical materials in Health Information @ Himmelfarb search tool. Change the default search from Online Access to Himmelfarb Catalog as shown below.  

Materials supporting the first and second year MD program are available in a collection that can be browsed and searched

When you’ve located a title you want to borrow, click the title to open the full record and then check under Locations to see where copies are located and if they’re currently available to check out. Courtyard pickup services are available to Himmelfarb patrons that do not currently have access to the physical library.

By signing in, you’ll see the option to request Courtyard pickup services as shown below.

Faculty are encouraged to make as many materials available to students in electronic form as possible. See more information on Himmelfarb’s reserves services for faculty or contact for assistance.


Crumpled paper and a paper airplane on a dark blue background
Photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash

As Himmelfarb Library begins the transition into Our New Normal, you may have questions about where to access certain services and resources we provide. Here’s a guide on what you’ll find available online and in-person.


All of our e-journals, e-databases, and e-books remain available online. We also provide our Documents2Go service entirely online, where you can request articles unavailable in our collection.

We offer instructions on downloading and installing our mobile apps to your device.

There is a host of information available on our Research Guides, everything from question banks to anatomy images, and much more!

Himmelfarb’s Reference team is also available online. Our chat service is monitored by reference staff 8:30AM-8PM EST Monday through Thursday and 8:30AM-5PM EST Friday. Have a question a little too involved for chat? We can also schedule individual meetings with a reference librarian via WebEx. Email us at to start the process!


In addition to our print collection available in our book stacks, you can also find our multimedia collection, audiovisual collection, and software resources on the third floor, in the Bloedorn Technology Center.

Our special collections, the Humanities & Health collection, Historical collection, and Healthy Living collection, are all accessible in-person.

Some of our older journals are kept in on-site storage as bound volumes. You can request a specific volume for perusal by following the instructions on our Borrowing and Requesting page.

Anatomy models are available in various places throughout the library. Our skeletal models and bone boxes are up on the third floor. Heart and brain models can be checked out at the Circulation desk.

If you have any questions about access as we move forward with Our New Normal, reach out to us at or call the Circulation Desk at 202-994-2962.

bookshelfIt’s easy to think of fair use as the domain of authors. But as faculty face increasing pressure to provide students with cost-free course materials, they often turn to course reserves as an inexpensive alternative to requiring students to purchase costly scholarly materials. Himmelfarb's librarians are responsible for advising faculty on best practices related to copyright and fair use for both print and electronic course reserves.  Himmelfarb's librarians can help to ensure that educational content distribution in your courses adheres to the spirit of fair use.

In recent years, the growth of electronic course reserves has created new challenges related to observing copyright. As we see an increasing shift towards electronic reserves, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Reserve materials should only be made available for faculty and students users while a course is currently being taught.  Electronic reserve materials must be promptly taken down after a course is no longer in session.
  • Electronic course reserves that are reactivated in future semesters may require additional copyright permissions. Permissions policies may be changed by publishers or copyright holders.  Use of an excerpt in a past course reserve does not guarantee use in future semesters.
  • Electronic course reserves require the same permissions as printed coursepacks. Rights must be secured for materials that cannot be utilized under fair use.
  • When using materials for electronic course reserves under fair use, remember to include copyright notices where necessary and include citations to the original material. Also caution users against further electronic distribution.
  • Under fair use criteria, electronic course reserve materials should be limited to small excerpts.  General guidelines include:
    • Book selections for works under copyright should not exceed 10% of the total page count of the book.
    • When using journal articles, you should not use more than two articles from any issue of a publication.
    • Unpublished materials require written permissions for items that are not the intellectual property of the instructor.
    • These limits are cumulative over the course of a semester, so taking down materials and adding new materials from the same source is a violation of fair use.
  • Access to electronic course reserves should be restricted by using passwords or other forms of authentication to help avoid copyright violations.

For the vast majority of cases, observing fair use guidelines should allow faculty users to include desired materials in electronic course reserves.  But when permissions are denied, Himmelfarb Librarians can help you in the following ways:

  • Help locate an excerpt in an alternate source. Materials from collections or anthologies can often be found in alternate sources with different copyright restrictions.
  • Place a hard copy of the item from which the material was excerpted on reserve.
  • Recommend alternate materials.

Despite its complexities, fair use ultimately presents unique opportunities for the distribution of educational content.  When used effectively, fair use standards can help to support electronic course reserves that provide students with the opportunity to obtain cost-free course materials. Consequently, adhering to best practices related to fair use and copyright standards can help to preserve educational models that foster the distribution of content for educational purposes.

For further information on Fair Use and Electronic Course Reserves, see Electronic Reserve Guidelines from the Copyright Clearance Center.



Come to the Circulation Desk to check one out.  Use it on your own in Himmelfarb or try out our charging station next to the New Books bookshelf on the first floor.  You can lock up your device to charge while you’re off in class, taking a nap, or waiting in line at Starbucks. It’s yours for four hours at a time.

GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.