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Online Learning Support: How to Access Library Resources

How do I access WiFi (internet)?

The Washington State of Department of Commerce has identified drive-in WiFi hotspots across the state. Drive-in WiFi hotspots provide free temporary, emergency internet access for Washingtonians who do not have broadband service to their homes. Access is available to all residents with specific emphasis on remote learning for students. Additionally, this service can be used for job searches, telehealth, telework, unemployment filing, and census participation.

Search the list of drive-in hotspots to locate a WiFi hotspot near you.

How do I get my textbooks?

Although the University Book Store's physical locations are closed until further notice, their online store is operating. You can order textbooks online and have them shipped directly to you. 

It is not common for the library to own the ebook due to purchasing restrictions from the publishers (see below), but if an electronic version of your textbook is available in our library catalog, the library has already notified your instructor, who should be able to provide you with the link.

Other places to buy textbooks
We recommend our own not-for-profit University Book Store, but there are other places to score some deals on textbooks. BigWords can help you compare prices. And check out this article on The 11 Best Sites to Get College Textbooks Online.

One caution about buying used textbooks from external sources: some instructors require you to log into the textbook publisher's online portal for quizzes and other additional content. If that's the case, you will need to purchase an additional access code. Check with your instructor before buying a used book from an external source. Our bookstore sells used copies, and will be able to assist you with questions about required access codes.

Why doesn't the library have an ebook for my textbook?
The UW Libraries buys ebooks *if* they are available for academic libraries to purchase. In most cases, commercial textbook publishers will only sell them to individuals, and will not allow libraries to purchase them. It is unlikely that your course text will be available for an academic library to purchase (as much as we'd like to)!

  • Not all print books have ebook equivalents, especially traditional textbooks
  • The library purchases ebooks with unlimited, concurrent user licenses when they are available, and as our funding allows - this isn't always possible
  • Many publishers only allow 1 or 3 users per ebook at a time, so this means if the library does have the ebook, you may not be able to use it when you need it
  • Popular, consumer-oriented ebook platforms such as Kindle, Nook, and Kobo are not available to the academic market - you have to buy those directly from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Google Play, as they are intended for one user at a time

Other Electronic Textbook options
Several vendors have arrangements with publishers that allow them to sell or rent print and electronic textbooks. Renting is cheaper than buying, but you won't own the book at the end of your class, and you can't sell it back.

Here are a few online textbook vendors (not a complete list):

Do any classes use free textbooks such as Open Educational Resources (OER)?
More and more faculty are adopting Open Educational Resources to help bring down textbook costs for students, and to adapt their own course materials.

The Campus Library is working with faculty and campus partners at both UW Bothell and Cascadia College to encourage adoption, adaptation, and creation of cost-free or low-cost alternatives to traditional textbooks. We encourage students to ask their faculty to consider OERs and other affordable alternatives to expensive textbooks!

eBook FAQs

Does the Library have an ebook I need?
Look for the ebook title in UW Libraries Search, or check out our:

Where else can I find ebooks?
Your regional public library system is a good option. They have access to ebooks that UW Libraries does not, and vice versa. If you don't already have one, you will need to set up a library card with your public library. Just like a print book, you may need to place a hold and wait for the ebook to become available if other library users are reading it.

If the book is in the "public domain" (i.e. not subject to copyright laws), you may find it freely online. In the U.S. these will typically be published before 1925. In addition to UW Libraries Search, here are a couple good places to find older copyright-free works:

Why doesn't the library provide Amazon Kindle ebooks?
Consumer ebook platforms (such Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Kobo) do not offer institutional purchase of their ebooks for academic libraries. If your instructor assigns a book that has a Kindle ebook option to purchase, we recommend checking UW Libraries Search to find out if we have the book through a different ebook vendor that serves academic libraries. 

  • Kobo student discount

Can the library purchase an ebook I need?
Maybe, if the publisher has made it available for purchase to academic libraries. You are welcome to make ebook purchase suggestions to your Subject Librarian.

Where can I find library materials for an assignment?

Search the UW Libraries Search and Articles & Research Databases for eBooks, eVideos, and scholarly or news articles. Note that you will need to select "Available Online" on the results page and use your UW NetID to access online.

The HathiTrust Digital Library is a collection of digitized works from some of the nation's great research libraries. For more information about UW access, visit the UW Libraries HathiTrust Digital Library Guide

Sno-Isle Libraries, King County Library System, and the Seattle Public Library all offer a variety of online resources such as ebooks, online courses, databases, and streaming video services. NOTE: These services can only be accessed with a library card from the organization, and there are limits on checkouts. Ebooks must be checked out and can only be used by one person at a time, and the libraries have limits on how many movies can be streamed.

Where can I get help with an assignment?

Course Guides are available for Cascadia College classes and UW Bothell classes and provide starting points, search tips, and resources specific to your class.

If your class is not listed in one of the Course Guides, try searching the Guides By Subject, which offers over 170 guides on a variety of topics and disciplines.

Reference Tools provide starting points for locating background information on a topic.

Citation Style Guides will show you how to cite works within a paper or work cited page.

How can I connect with a librarian?
Use the 24/7 Chat With a Librarian service for immediate research help. This service is staffed by UW Librarians but at peak service times or off-hours you may be chatting with a librarian from another academic library.

Email Research Help is also available should you experience technical problems with the 24/7 online service.

How do I get help with online classes or technology?

If you need help transitioning to online classes, UW Bothell has information on their Student Help for Learning Online page and Cascadia College has compiled a list of Temporary Online Resources.

Do you need to borrow a laptop or need access to WiFi? UW Bothell has information about technology assistance on the Laptop and WiFi Hotspot Lending Program page. Cascadia College's Information Services Help Desk has equipment available: email helpdesk@cascadia.edu for more information. The Campus Library also has a limited number of laptops available for checkout, and more information can be found on the Laptops page.

Are you having trouble using online library resources or need to set up a UW NetID? The Campus Library  page links out to troubleshooting support for a variety of online library materials, NetID login issues, and off-campus access.

Streaming Video FAQs

Does the Library have a film I need?
Look for the film title in UW Libraries Search, or check out our guide to e-Videos

For spring quarter, UW Libraries has set up temporary trial access for several academic streaming video collections.

Where else can I find films to watch online?
Your regional public library system is a good option. They have access to films that UW Libraries does not, and vice versa. If you don't already have one, you will need to set up a library card with your public library.

Why doesn't the library provide Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and etc.?
Consumer streaming platforms (such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu) do not offer institutional licenses for academic or public libraries. If your instructor assigns a film on one of these services, you may need to subscribe, or rent through Google Play, iTunes/AppleTV, or YouTube. Some services have trial offers or student discounts.

Can the library purchase a license to a film I need?
Streaming video is a very expensive resource for academic libraries, with limited duration licenses typically costing $200-600 per film. As a result, the Campus Library prioritizes faculty requests for films that are required viewing for all enrolled students in an online or offsite class. However, you are welcome to make film purchase suggestions to your Subject Librarian.

Chat with a UW Librarian