Holing up in the library to cram for a big test or write a paper hours before it’s due is par for the course for college students. Your first all-nighter in the library is basically a rite of passage. For online students, however, the role of the university library can be a little bit trickier. After all, if geography separates you from Drexel University’s campus, how can you take advantage of all the library has to offer?
If you can’t come to the library, the library will come to you
Regardless of where you are in the world, as an online student you’ll have full virtual access to Drexel University Libraries and resources. Need some research guidance or citation tips? A librarian will be happy to offer virtual assistance. Can’t find the book you’re looking for? They’ll help you find it AND ship it out to you. Whatever you need, the libraries at Drexel have you covered.
To make sure you have the opportunity to use all the amazing resources the libraries offer, we spoke with Tim Siftar, Liaison Librarian for Education and Computing & Informatics, and put together this handy guide to taking full advantage of Drexel University Libraries’ resources.
Get to know your liaison librarian
If you need help navigating the online library or finding the resource you need, you’re in luck: the library staff is happy to lend a (digital) hand. If you have a general question and are online during library hours (Monday–Thursday 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday 3–7 p.m.), you can use the "chat" feature to connect with the library staff for a quick response. "For every new challenge you might face at the library or doing research, give it the old college try for 20 minutes. But if you’re stumped, it’s very easy to start a chat session and we’re here to respond instantaneously and get you on your way in all matters, big and small," says Siftar.
If your question is more specific to your area of study, you can reach out to your liaison librarian. These are subject-specific librarians who are well-versed in their area of study and are happy to discuss research questions with you. You can contact them via the chat option on their page, or via email or phone. What’s more, they’re available for individual and group meetings via Skype (or in-person, if you’d like to come to campus).
Utilize library guides and tutorials
Library guides are subject-specific and created by the liaison librarians to help you get started on research. They include everything from research and citation tips to relevant databases to academic and professional associations and organizations. Plus, they also include the contact information of that subject’s liaison librarian, in case you have questions or want to request additional information. Library tutorials can also get you started, giving great tips on things like search tools, specific databases, and avoiding plagiarism.
Take advantage of the library’s journal and database subscriptions
As a Drexel student, you have access to the many journals and databases Drexel subscribes to. Just go to the "Search" tab on the homepage and decide whether you’re looking for an article, eJournal, or database. If you want articles about a specific topic, enter your topic in the search box on the homepage (this feature can be used to look for both articles and books).
Some advice from Siftar: "My favorite tip and the thing that I always get across is to start out with whatever terms are in your head. With that “Articles & More” search box you can do a general search and get a million results and use the filters on the left hand side to make it very specific with just a few clicks…Something else I say is, the only way to get it wrong is to think you did the perfect search on your first try. You have to do it a couple times - iterate and refine your search. And be curious."
Need a library book? No problem!
Drexel online students have full access to the library’s collection, including over 200,000 e-books and video content. Not seeing a digital version of the book you need? If it’s a part of the Drexel University Libraries print collection, library staff will ship the item to you; all you need to do is pay the postage to send it back. Just select the book you want and click "Request this item" at the top of the page, then choose the "Distance Education Delivery" option under "Pickup Locations." If the book you want isn’t a part of the libraries' collection, you have a couple of options. Just go to the "Search" tab and select " Borrow from other libraries." Here you’ll be able to request an E-ZBorrow or Interlibrary Loan.
Online students can access the Libraries in-person
If you’re local to Philadelphia or happen to be in the area, you’re welcome to use the libraries' resources in person. There are four locations in Philadelphia. Just flash your Dragon Card and head inside! If you don’t have a Dragon Card, show a photo I.D. at the front desk during business hours and public safety staff will be able to look you up. Once there you’ll have full access to the libraries’ resources, including checking out books and meeting with librarians.