Graduate Research

Lesson 5: Institutional Library Services

5.1 Library Services

As a UW-Madison student, you have access to the wealth of resources in the UW-Madison libraries, including books, e-books, articles, and other materials from collections and databases. For distance students, there are additional services that will help you access these resources as you conduct research during your academic journey. In this section, you will learn how to use a variety of services and tools to aid you in accessing electronic resources—such as e-books and articles, and physical objects—such as books, CDs, and DVDs.


5.2 Library Distance Services for Physical Objects

The Libraries can assist off-campus and distance students through Library Distance Services. Books and items from UW-Madison Libraries and other libraries can be sent to our distance students.

You can search for our books, CDs, DVDs, and other physical objects in the the Library Catalog. You can use UBorrow to search 13 other major research libraries when you are looking for an item UW-Madison does not own. To request delivery for items from either UW-Madison or UBorrow, place a request through your Interlibrary Loan account.

Please note though, that there are restrictions on these services based on your location. For specific policies or more information view the obtaining library materials website.

Criteria to enroll
  • You must be a registered student of UW-Madison
  • You must live and work outside of Dane County to receive physical materials

Signing Up:
  • Login to Interlibrary Loan
  • Select the UW-Madison link
  • You will be prompted to sign in. You can choose to login with either your NetID or your 11-digit UW-Madison ID.
  • From the Interlibrary Loan homepage, select Change Pickup Library and Verify Email Address under the heading "My Account."
  • Choose "Distance Services" as your pickup library. This can be changed or updated anytime.
  • When you request physical objects, you will place your mailing address in the notes field.
  • To qualify for Library Distance Services, you cannot live or work in Dane County or regularly commute to campus. If this applies to you, then you will have to visit campus to pick up physical materials. Your UW-Madison Wiscard (ID Card) is your library card, and it will work at all UW-Madison campus libraries.
  • If you qualify for Disability Services, you can use Library Distance Services for book or document delivery.
  • If visiting campus is not an option, your local public library should be able to help you. Let them know the title of the book or material you'd like to borrow, and ask for assistance with placing an interlibrary loan request (note: you will need to use your public library card for this). Please be aware that your public library may charge you for this service. Use the Ask A Librarian service or contact a subject librarian at UW-Madison to receive help finding a copy nearby that you can access.

You can use UBorrow to search 13 other major research libraries when you are looking for an item UW-Madison does not own. Once you find an item, you will use Interlibrary Loan to request the item, similar to requesting an item that we do own. Books and items from non-UW-Madison Libraries can be sent anywhere in the continental U.S. outside of Dane County, and will include a postage-paid return envelope. Unfortunately, these items cannot be sent outside of the continental U.S., but you can work with our librarians to see if a copy of the item can be found at a library near you, or if an electronic version exists.



5.3 Library Services for Electronic Resources

As a UW-Madison student, you will be able to access electronic resources through our databases, e-book collections, and electronic journals immediately as long as we provide access to them. When we do not have access to an article that you need, you can request to have it emailed to you through Interlibrary Loan.

You can also submit a request to have a physical article or book chapter that is not available online scanned and emailed to you through Interlibrary Loan. These services are available to all UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff, regardless of their location. Before you request materials, check the Library Catalog or use Citation Search to see if we already provide immediate access online.

For specific policies and more information view the obtaining library materials website.

  1. Login to Interlibrary Loan
  2. Select Request an Article or Book Chapter
  3. Complete the request form (Note: you will not be asked for a mailing address—articles and book chapters will be scanned, converted to pdf format, and delivered eletronically)

5.4 Acessing Online Resources with your NetID

The UW-Madison Libraries website is the gateway to all of the Library’s resources, including items that can be accessed immediately online. Many of these resources are available only for UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff. To ensure that you can access the materials when off-campus, you must access all databases, journals, articles, and e-books through the Libraries website. The website will prompt you to sign in with your NetID, authenticating that you are a UW-Madison student, and granting you access.

If you need help with remote access or want to learn more you can visit the Off-Campus Access website.

  • Your Library Account allows you to view any Loans, Pending Requests, Interlibrary Loans, or Fees you have. You can also use your Library Account to request and renew materials online.
  • You can save items from the Library Catalog to a list in your account. To learn more, visit the Saving Catalog Items to a List
  • You can access it by selecting “Sign In” on the UW-Madison Libraries’ homepage, and logging in with your NetID.
  • You must have a valid UW-Madison Photo ID to activate and keep a NetID account
  • NetIDs can be activated at the NetID Account Activation page
  • Once entered, this remains active until you exit your browser or are logged out after 6 hours of inactivity

Google Scholar Example

If you access Google Scholar from the Libraries website, your NetID will be used for authentication so that the FindIt button appears in search results, granting you access to articles the UW-Madison Libraries subscribe to.

In Google Scholar, you can also establish a permanent UW-Madison Library connection as long as your NetID is valid. From the Google Scholar homepage, click the main menu button (three horizontal lines), select Settings, then select Library Links. Enter "Madison" in the search bar to select FindIT at UW-Madison and Proquest Fulltext for UW-Madison. Select Save to establish the connection, and you can search Google Scholar from anywhere in the world and be connected to the UW-Madison Library's resources.


5.5 Librarian Assistance

Expect to have questions as you conduct research throughout your time at UW-Madison. As information and research experts, librarians are here to help you answer these questions. If you need help, you can connect with a librarian via our Ask A Librarian service, which includes virtual chat, email, call/text, reference desks, and the option to schedule an appointment.

If you need help specific to your program or research subject, then you should contact a Subject Librarian. Subject Librarians have expert knowledge on conducting research in a specific discipline. Your graduate program has a Subject Librarian available to help and support you throughout your time as a student.

To discover your subject librarian, from the Subjects page, select your program or research area. This page will highlight information for Subject Librarians, as well the top databases, subject guides, and the library location for the program. Your Subject Librarian can help you conduct research, access library resources, and use library services.

For immediate help getting started with your research, you can read and view tutorials on the Library Research Tutorials website.