The librarian says reference books cannot be checked out and you can put what's called a hold any book that's been checked out. From this, it can be determined that it is not true that one can place a hold on reserve book. (Longman TOEFL iBT CD-ROM)

Is it trying to imply that reserve book is the same as reference book? I can't see any definition for reserve as an adjective. The Harvard Library website defined reserve book as:

Books and other materials for classes are sometimes put on Reserve and are available for a shorter loan period so that everyone in the class can use them.

What does the word reserve book mean? The two sources seems to contradict.

1 Answer 1


A reference book is a book that one may never check out; they are usually expensive, so the library doesn't want to risk a user losing or damaging it. But the key is that it is a reference book that stays in the library so that many students can use it, such a thing as the Oxford English Dictionary.

A reserve book, on the other hand, is a book that is temporarily unavailable to check out (or that may be checked out for a shorter than normal time period), because a professor has placed it on reserve. This is usually because it is a book being used in the professor's class, and he or she has placed it on reserve so that her or his students may have access to it in the library. Or, as the definition from the Harvard Library says, students may sometimes check out reserve books, but for a shorter time period than usual. This can be as short as one or two hours. Again, this is because the pofessor wants all the students in the class to have access to it. Thus, the book may remain on reserve status for a semester or longer. Also, professors may place books on reserve for other reasons. Then there is the sometimes galling thing that a regular book may not be available for many semesters because a professor has checked it out indefinitely.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .