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Help pages: eBooks

Using eBooks

Staff and students have access to the library's collection of eBooks (full-text electronic books). You can find and access eBooks through Library Search.

All the eBooks we offer can be read on any computer connected to the internet.

You are often able to print or copy pages from an eBook, but the number of pages you will be able to print or copy will be limited by the publisher using DRM (Digital Rights Management). Once these limits are reached, the publisher will not allow you to print or copy any further text.

The DRM that publishers apply also means that, in general, our eBooks cannot be transferred to eBook readers such as the Kindle.

We buy our eBooks from many suppliers that each have their own delivery system. For more information on these systems please see the FAQs on

Access tips

When accessing eBooks, either on or off campus, you may be taken via a page that asks if you are from Sheffield Hallam University and requires you to enter your SHU network username and password.

If you see a login screen that does not display a SHU logo, you will need to click on the Alternative login link and search or browse for Sheffield Hallam University.

Adobe Reader

Many ebooks require that you have a recent version of Adobe Reader installed, which you can download.

Make sure that in Adobe Reader 'display PDF in browser' is set. To check your settings, open Adobe Reader, select Edit, Preferences, Internet and the 'display PDF in browser' should be ticked.


Some of our eBooks are available with a single user licence, which only allows one user at a time to access the title.  If the book is open but has been inactive for 15 minutes, then the user's session is closed. This will then allow another student to access the book.  If the book is being read and pages turned regularly, this should not happen. 

Chrome PDF viewer

Google Chrome browser has a built-in PDF viewer that can sometimes cause problems with viewing eBooks.  If you get an error message, it's worth disabling Chrome's PDF viewer to see whether that helps.

  • Type about:plugins into the address bar at the top.
  • Look for 'Chrome PDF Viewer' in the list of plugins and click the 'Disable' link.

This should enable eBooks to open in Adobe Reader or Adobe Digital Editions instead.

eBook readers


Most of our eBooks cannot be transferred or read on a Kindle because of the digital rights software associated with them by the publisher.

You can transfer some PDF documents to Kindles (but not the PDF files our eBooks are in)

Kindles are a personal device and items need to be purchased with an individual Amazon account.

We buy our eBooks from different suppliers for multiple use

Sony eBook Reader

Our eBooks are not currently compatible with the Sony eBook Readers.

Mobile devices

You should be able to view most of our eBooks on mobile devices such as iPad, iPhone and Android tablet. However, these devices will not allow you to download our eBooks to read offline.

Although most of our eBooks are delivered as PDFs, some are also available in the ePub format. This allows you to resize the font to make viewing easier on the smaller screens of mobile devices.

Adobe Digital Editions

Some eBook providers (e.g. VLebooks, Ebook Library) require that you install Adobe Digital Editions software before you can download a book. This application allows you to read eBooks protected by Adobe DRM (digital rights management). 

On SHU University PCs Adobe Digital Editions is  available via AppsAnywhere. We recommend when using a PC on campus, to choose to read online rather than download.

Using different types of eBook

The Library buys eBooks from various suppliers. We prefer to buy eBooks that can be read by several people at the same time but sometimes our suppliers do not offer this option. Sometimes the only eBook available for the Library to buy comes with a single-user license and cannot be downloaded. 

I can't seem to access the eBook.

  • Check Library Search to see if there is an alternative eBook available
  • Try using the eBook at another time
  • Could you use the print book instead?

I still can't access it, what else can I try?

  • Get in contact with the Library and we will see how we can help you.

I'd like to use an eBook in my teaching.

  • Get in contact with the Library and we can check that your chosen eBook can be read by several students at once. If the eBook license is too restrictive you might find that not all of the group can read the book or complete the reading activities.

dawsonera FAQs

The dawsonera eBook Catalogue offers access to approx 8,000 ebooks that SHU has purchased. You are also able to view many other titles that are available to preview for five minutes or you can ask us to purchase them by completing an online request form.

How do I read a dawsonera eBook online?

Do I have to have any special software or hardware to view eBooks?

Can I add notes?

How much can I copy or print from a book?

Can I download a book to read offline?

Why does the page keep refreshing so I'm not able to download the book?

Can I view books on my iPad?

Why do I see blank pages when I try to access eBooks on my Mac?

Is Dawsonera compatible with ebook readers?

EBSCOhost (netLibrary) FAQs

EBSCOhost offers access to over 600 selected professional, scholarly and reference electronic books in a range of subject areas plus a further 3,400 titles that are publicly available (i.e. out of copyright).

How do I find the full text books that SHU has purchased?

Do I have to have any special software or hardware to view eBooks?

Can I print or copy from Ebsco eBooks?

How long can I use an eBook?

How many people can view an eBook at the same time?

Can I download the whole eBook to read offline?

ScienceDirect FAQs

On a ScienceDirect eBook home page the chapters are arranged in a table of contents, which you can navigate to find the specific chapter you want. Each chapter is a pdf document which you can open by clicking the chapter name or the pdf link.

Do I need any special software to view the eBooks?

Can I download the eBooks to read offline?

Can I print chapters from the eBooks?

Can I download ScienceDirect eBooks onto my eReader?


Please note: downloaded VLeBooks won't work on University PCs, so please choose the 'Read Online' option instead.

How do I download a VLe eBook?

Do I need any special software?

Can I read eBooks online?