eBook Collections Usage Guide: Access Restrictions

A comprehensive guide to using the Marriott Library's ebook collections.

What Are Access Restrictions?

When the Marriott Library purchases ebooks or ebook databases, the agreements we make with publishers often specify a number of restrictions that apply to how patrons can access their ebooks. Some examples of the types of restrictions you may encounter in our collections are:

  • Restrictions on the number of users that may be logged into a given database simultaneously, or on the number of users who can view a specific ebook at once. 
  • Limits on whether ebooks can be downloaded or printed, if text can be selected and copied from an ebook, if an ebook can be accessed all at once or only by chapter, if the text of an ebook can be searched, etc.
  • Specific software requirements for accessing a database, like needing to use Internet Explorer or specialized client programs to browse a collection or view its ebooks. 
  • eBook databases requiring patrons to register for a free account in order to use the collection or access special features on the collection's website (on some sites you can save your place while reading if you log off, make notes in the margin of an ebook that only you can see, personalize fonts used in an ebook, and so forth).

When restrictions apply to a collection, they will be outlined in the database description on the Marriott Library's article database page. Make sure to read the database descriptions carefully so that you know what you need to do in order to access the ebooks correctly. Shown below is an example of a few database listings with restriction information so that you know what to look for when browsing our collections. 

Database Restrictions Example

There are a variety of restrictions you can see in this image. Notice that Safari Tech Books specifies that there can only be 40 users logged in at a time, and that they only provide coverage for the current and previous two years (meaning that ebooks that become more than three years old will disappear from the database), and Siku Quanshu limits the number of users to just one at a time while also requiring both Internet Explorer and client software for access to the database.

Access Restrictions On eBook Collections

To provide you with an example of how access restrictions may affect your experience with the Marriott Library's ebook collections, here is an overview of how they work on two of our more restrictive databases - ebrary and Safari Tech Books.


ebrary allows an unlimited number of users to access their system and browse for materials simultaneously. However, only one user can access a particular ebook at a time. If you log into ebrary and select an ebook, you will normally see something like this:

ebrary: Open Document

However, if another user is already viewing that same ebook, you will see this message:

ebrary Error: Checked Out

This message will appear as long as someone else is reading the title you are trying to access. Once they have closed out of the ebook, ebrary waits for a brief period of inactivity (about 15 minutes) and then allows anyone to view the ebook again. As shown, it is also possible to get in a waiting list for a document to ensure that you get to view it even if many people are trying to access it. ebrary has some titles that do not have these viewing restrictions, but all ebrary books are still limited to a 60-page maximum when printing.

In addition to the restrictions above, ebrary also uses somewhat different authentication methods than most other databases in our collections, and is best accessed through the proxy network when off-campus (see Troubleshooting for more information) rather than the VPN or other access methods. If you use ebrary without logging into the proxy service, your experience will not be ideal and you may encounter errors.

More information about ebrary can be found at their help page.

Safari Tech Books

One of the more complex examples of access restriction in our collections is Safari Tech Books. Unlike ebrary, Safari Tech Books has a limit on the number of users that can be logged into their database at one time, which is 40 users total for all UALC (Utah Academic Library Consortium) member libraries. This means that the Marriott Library shares access to this database with a variety of other academic libraries in Utah. However, they allow as many as all 40 of those users to view a given ebook, so as long as you are logged into the database you can view any ebook, even if other users are already viewing it. Furthermore, the selection of ebooks in the Safari Tech Books collection is not fixed, so titles in the database may be added or removed unexpectedly, and the collection is updated approximately every three months. Printing is also quite restricted, only allowing one page to be printed at a time, and placing a large copyright notice on any page that prints. 

Opening an ebook on Safari Tech Books looks like this:

Safari Tech Books: Open Document

If 40 users are already on the site when you try to log in, you will see this message: 

"We're sorry, but the maximum number of concurrent sessions has been exceeded. Please try again later or contact Safari Customer Service."

If you receive that message, you will just need to wait until a space opens up (when any of the 40 users on the site log off) and then be able to use the site again.

More information about Safari Tech Books can be found on their help page.

Guide Author

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Mary Ann James
Electronic Resources Manager
J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
801 581 8077
Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library