Remote user services

Oct 27, 2005

Many of the ISU Library's resources and services can be accessed remotely, without visiting one of our physical facilities. "Remote" users--whether they are simply across campus, or halfway around the world--can search the ISU Library catalog, read full-text books and journals online, ask questions of subject specialists, or request that books, journals, and other research materials be delivered to an office or home address. All of these services and more are available via the e-Library website. The following is a list of ISU Library resources and services available to remote users. Some services, as indicated, are available only to individuals formally affiliated with ISU, including students enrolled in off-campus courses; other services are available to the general public.

The ISUCard and the Library Visitor Card--your passports to library services: Individuals formally affiliated with Iowa State University--students, faculty, staff, visiting scholars, scientists, and researchers--are all eligible to receive an ISUCard, the official form of identification used by Iowa State. If you have questions about this card, visit the ISUCard website, or contact the ISUCard Office at (515) 294-2727. On campus, this card serves as a photo ID and determines borrowing privileges for library materials. Remotely, the ISUCard number validates your eligibility for many of the services listed below. Individuals unaffiliated with Iowa State can apply to receive an ISU Library Visitor Card, and thereby obtain a variety of access privileges.

Online Catalogs: The ISU Library's online catalog is a central component of its electronic resources. The Library Catalog indicates which books, media, computer software, journal subscriptions, etc., are either housed in the Library, or can be accessed electronically via the Library's website. The e-Library also has links to the online catalogs of other libraries in Iowa, in the U.S., and in other countries, all of which can be searched remotely.

Full-Text Resources: The e-Library offers an increasing number of electronic resources that include the full text of books, journal articles, and other documents. The Library also has subscriptions to a steadily growing number of electronic journals with full-text access to individual articles.

All of the library's electronic resources can be used freely, by anyone (including visitors), at workstations within ISU Library facilities. Remote access to these resources, however, is typically limited to ISU students, faculty, staff, and collaborators, due to licensing restrictions. In order to access these resources from outside the library, individuals need either to be at a valid ISU IP address, or to login using an ISUCard number and Library Catalog Pin#.

Nevertheless, a number of highly useful electronic resources are freely available on the Web to all users, regardless of ISU affiliation, and require no login. Often times, these are produced by government agencies or other universities. In the e-Library, such resources are identified with a small globe icon. These freely-available resources include such diverse titles as AgEcon Search, the American Society of Civil Engineers' Civil Engineering Database, the Department of Energy's Energy Citations Database, and the National Library of Medicine's PubMed.

Reference Services: Through the Library's Ask a Librarian service, remote users--regardless of their affiliation with ISU--can conveniently ask questions ranging from "What is the population of New Delhi?" to "How do I cite an electronic journal in a bibliography?" Skilled reference staff and subject specialists will respond quickly to your queries via email or online chat.

Instructional Services: Faculty in the Library's two subject departments (Science & Technology, Social Sciences & Humanities) are engaged in a variety of instructional activities throughout the year, most of them within the Library or in campus classrooms. Instructional services to remote users, particularly faculty and students involved in distance education, is a challenging area for future development. If you have comments, suggestions, or requests regarding instructional services, please consult the lists of subject librarians, and contact the appropriate subject librarian by phone or by email.

Document Delivery: Not everything is available full-text in an electronic format. At times, it is necessary to have a printed copy of a document or a whole book sent to your home or office. The Library's fee-based Document Delivery Service (DDS) serves this type of need. Library materials can be ordered via web form, paper form or telephone. The Document Delivery Service is a convenient way of requesting delivery of many types of library materials, regardless of whether the ISU Library owns them. It is also the only way to have original materials (i.e., books, microfilm, videotapes, etc.) obtained from other libraries forwarded directly to your home or office.

Interlibrary Loan: Individuals in need of library materials not owned by the ISU Library can request them via Interlibrary Loan, as long as they hold either a valid ISUCard or the ISU Library Visitor Card. Requests can be submitted via a web form or in person in Room 198B, Parks Library. There is no charge for standard service. If the requested item is supplied in photocopy format, the photocopy is mailed directly to the requestor's home or office. The loan of books, microfilm, videotapes, and other so-called returnables, must be picked up in the Interlibrary Loan office. For users requiring expedited delivery, a fee-based priority service is available. Priority requests must be submitted in person in the Interlibrary Loan office, room 198B Parks Library.

Electronic Reserve: Increasingly, much of the material that ISU instructors place on "Course Reserve" (i.e., for course-related, short-term loan) is now available in a full-text PDF format via the Library's Reserve system. Anyone registered for a class who has a PC, World Wide Web access, and Adobe Acrobat software can now view and print copyright-cleared documents virtually any time and any place.

Research in Primary Resources/Special Collections: The mission of the ISU Library's Special Collections Department is to identify, select, preserve and promote the use of rare and unique research materials that support major research areas of Iowa State University. The department's extensive website contains a growing number of digitized documents of potential interest to remote researchers, along with virtual exhibits and displays.

Library Hours: Of course, remote users may sometimes wish to visit the ISU Library in person. Library hours vary throughout the year, but are kept up-to-date on the e-Library website. Please review them before making your trip to campus.