Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble Education has announced the company has joined VitalSource® in an effort to support students impacted by the recent COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Through the remainder of the Spring 2020 term, VitalSource will offer free access to eTextbooks for students at BNED campuses (including Eastern Iowa Community Colleges).

To view a list of publishers supporting this effort, please visit:

Who is eligible for the VitalSource Helps program?

Students meeting the following criteria are eligible to access free ebooks as part of VitalSource Helps:

  1. Be enrolled in course(s) that began prior to March 16, 2020
  2. Use an institution-provided email address

How do students access VitalSource Helps content?

To get started, students should visit  Before students can begin searching for and reading ebooks, they will need to log-in or create a Bookshelf account with their institution-provided email address.

It is important to note that, while students may use Bookshelf today as part of an Inclusive Access program, they may access content via an LMS integration that does not require an email address, or their account may be linked to their personal email address. To access VitalSource Helps content, students must use their institution-provided email address.

For students accessing Bookshelf for the first time:

Instructions on creating a Bookshelf account is available here: Once students create an account with an institution-provided email address, they should login and click on the “Explore” tab in the upper left corner of the screen.

For students with existing Bookshelf accounts linked to their institution-provided email address:

Students with existing Bookshelf accounts linked to their institution-provided email address will see a new tab called “Explore” when they login. This tab provides access to the freely-available ebooks.

For students with existing Bookshelf accounts NOT linked to their institution-provided email address, an article explaining how a student can check the email account associated with their Bookshelf account, and how to change it to an institution-provided email account to access VitalSource Helps ebooks is available here:

How long is the VitalSource Helps program available?

We and the publishers are offering free access to ebooks through May 25, 2020 to ensure affected students are able to use required learning materials through final exams. Once the free access period ends, students will maintain access to their Bookshelf account. However, ebooks provided during the VitalSource Helps program will no longer appear.

How many titles may be accessed for free as part of the VitalSource Helps ebook program?

Users may add up to seven titles to their account for free. There is a “counter” in the lower left corner of the Bookshelf screen to help users keep track of the number of books accessed.

What type of content is available as part of the VitalSource Helps ebook program?

VitalSource, publishers, and resellers have worked together to make tens of thousands of ebooks available to allow students to find their required learning materials. Students may access up to seven titles.

Custom content, interactive content, and content used for assessment is not included. Commonly assigned materials from publishers, often referred to as “courseware” (like Pearson’s MyLab, Cengage MindTap, WileyPlus, etc.) are not included in this program.