Goldsmiths - University of London
Subject Guides
Skip to Main Content

eBooks: eBook License Guide

A guide to using the library's eBook collections.

eBook License Guide

eBook License Types

There are 3 types of eBook license that the library may own: 

Limited user (typically 1 or 3 users) – There will be limitations on the number of simultaneous users, though the library can upgrade the license if there is sufficient demand, and the price is reasonable.  
Credits (also known as non-linear or concurrent license) - Usually offering between 200-400 credits, which are renewed annually on the anniversary of the purchase date. It is very rare for the annual credits to run out and there are no limits to the number of simultaneous users.  
Unlimited – No limits to the number of uses/simultaneous users.  

After purchasing one of these licenses, the library will usually have perpetual access to the eBook.  

Some eBooks are only available as limited user licenses. Institutional eBook licenses are typically far more expensive than print books and the price may restrict the type of eBook license the library can purchase, or mean that only print copies are ordered.   

Some titles simply don’t exist as eBooks and publishers may withdraw titles from sale or only offer individual access eBooks for purchase via platforms such as Amazon Kindle.  

 There are 3 main websites, which host most of the eBooks purchased by the library: Ebook CentralVLeBooks and EBSCO eBooks. These hosting websites offer a range of eBook license types.  

Most eBook licenses allow the user to save a section (or the entire book) as a PDF file, which they will have permanent access to. Copy/print/save allowances, for the 3 main hosting websites, are displayed alongside the license information, on the eBook title homepage.  

Further information on using eBooks is available on the Goldsmiths Library Libguide page.

Publisher hosted websites

There are also several hosting websites, for academic publishers and eBook collections, that the library subscribes to. All these eBook licenses are unlimited and there is often the option to download the whole eBook as a PDF document to keep permanently and access offline. 

The one exception is Oxford University Press (available via University Press Scholarship Online), which has some limited user licenses. It should still be possible to download PDF chapters (or the entire book, chapter by chapter) irrespective of the license type. 

The publisher/subscription websites that host eBooks from the Goldsmiths Library collection are: 

ACLS Humanities 


Art and Architecture Source 

Literature Online (LION) 


Oxford Handbooks Online 

Cambridge Core 

Oxford University Press 

De Gruyter  

Project Muse 

Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) 

SAGE Research Methods (Core Collection) 

Duke University Press 

Taylor and Francis 

Elsevier ScienceDirect 



Checking license type on Ebook Central

On the title homepage, the eBook license information will be displayed in the ‘Availability’ section, below the title and author. For the title below, the library owns a 1-user license

3-user license will display the following note: 

The library owns a credits license if the note refers to ‘multiple copies’, which is slightly confusing, considering how VLeBooks use this same term (see next page). 

and an unlimited license will display the following note: 

Checking license type on VLeBooks

On the title homepage, the eBook license information will usually be displayed below the cover image. For the title below, the library owns a 1-user license… 

Unfortunately, VLeBooks does not distinguish between 3-user, credits and unlimited licenses and will only display a note to confirm that ‘multiple copies’ are owned by the library. 

If you would like to confirm which license the library owns, please email the Acquisitions team ( 

Checking license type on EBSCO

On the title homepage, the eBook license information will be displayed in the ‘Concurrent User Level’ field. For the title below, the library owns an unlimited license

1 and 3-user licenses will display the following notes:

A credits license will display the number of uses available. In this case there were 365 annual credits, so the eBook had been used 42 times.

The use of ‘Limited User Access’ is confusing here as there are no limitations on simultaneous use.

Chat With Us

Contact Us