Can I access library resources after I graduate?

Typically when students ask this question, they’re wondering about journal articles.  But to be thorough, I have to give the whole answer here.

Alumna are able to use special alumni accounts to borrow regular library material, like books. You can do this in two ways:

  1. If you only want to borrow books from Brescia or the other affiliate colleges (Kings and Huron), you can bring your old student card to the Brescia library service desk, and we will create an alumni account for you.
  2. If you want to borrow books from all libraries in the Western community, you will need to sign up for an Alumni card.

Where you run into limitations are on short-term loan items (e.g. course reserve materials) and on items that require a subscription. This means that, after graduation, you will not be able to access our online databases, including journal articles, from off campus.

You’re not without options, though.

  1. Firstly, our copyright tariffs allow on-site users to have reasonable access to our journal subscriptions.  So, come into a library on campus and the staff there can set you up with a computer in order to access the journals you need.
  2. Secondly, there are a variety of open-access journals that are still quite prestigious.  Access these through the Database of Open Access Journals.  For science students you can also try PubMed Central for other free journals.
  3. Ask your employer: academic research is an important part of many professions, so you may have access to resources you didn’t know about (especially if you work in a hospital system, school system, for a large corporation or chain, etc).
  4. Joining professional associations often will provide you with access to important journals in your field.  Examples of these associations could include the Ontario College of Teachers or  Dietitians of Canada.
  5. And don’t forget to talk to your local public librarian!

What is Summon?

Summon is Western Libraries main search product, and the default search box on the Beryl Ivey Library homepage.  It was introduced to allow students to find all different kinds of resources (i.e. journal articles and books together) in one quick, easy-to-use search, which the Shared Catalogue and searching databases do not.  Traditional database searching, for when you’re looking for journal articles, can also be irritating as they do not exclusively list articles that we have a subscription to.

When you search Summon you are looking at Western’s Shared Library Catalogue content in combination with roughly 90% of our online, full-text journal articles.   Depending on what topic you’re searching, there are a few “citation only” journal articles too, meaning that an abstract might be displayed in Summon, but the full-text article will not be linked there.

Here are my pros and cons for using Summon:


  • Easy to use:  if you’ve done any online shopping, Summon’s functioning will seem familiar.  It’s easy to limit your search results (i.e. by format, by library, by date) and to save your favourite articles.
  • Interdisciplinary: almost every program can use Summon as their first step in the research process.  For Brescia’s interdisciplinary programs like Foods and Nutrition, Family Studies, or Community Development, this can save you a lot of time and guesswork in choosing a database.
  • Citation formatting: once you’ve sent items to your “saved” folder you can view them in a variety of popular citation styles, including APA, MLA and Uniform Requirements.
  • It’s easy to find full-text journal articles: many times professors will give you a citation of a journal article to read for class.  It’s much easier to find these readings, as you can type in the name of the article into Summon and often find it on the first try.
  • Full-text articles: while there are some limitations to Summon’s functioning, it is easier to find full-text journal articles over traditional databases.  Usually.


  • Missing content: case-law and some business publications are not included in Summon.  This would affect our Criminal Psychology students at Brescia, as well as our MOS students.  Print journal articles are also not included.  So, for almost every student doing a research project, it’s still important to rely on databases to search for journal articles, or else you will likely miss important research.
  • SFX window: the Get it @ Western or SFX window links you between Summon and the full-text of the article – most of the time.  Many students (and myself) have expressed their frustration with this window, as it doesn’t seem to make much sense and often doesn’t work.  There are ways around this issue, which the library can help you with, but it still can be annoying.
  • Too much information? Results not appropriate for your subject?: because Summon is searching every discipline, our online journal articles, and the catalogue, it’s possible that you can get too many results in your search, like when you’re searching Google.  Again, this means that it’s often necessary to use a database when you’re searching for journal articles, as it will narrow your search specifically to your discipline.

There is a lot more I can say about Summon, but the question I was asked was “what is it.”   Overall, I really like this product, you just have to be aware of its limitations.

Do you have a scanner in the library?

Updated June, 2016.

Beryl Ivey Library now has a public scanner, through the colour photocopier, and is available to scan images to print. To scan, you must have your own PaperCut account. If you are a student at Brescia, Huron, or Western, you already have one. If you are a student at King’s, you may need to create an account. When scanning, the images are scanned directly to a USB stick in PDF files (you must supply your own USB stick). All scanning must follow Canadian Copyright law. Make sure you read the guidelines and instructions that are posted above the scanner before you start!

If you require a scanner for accessibility purposes (such as converting print text to digital for text-to-speech software), there are a variety of other services available to you at Western:

  • King’s University College has two Access Labs in their library, which include scanners.  Students must be registered with Services for Students with Disabilities and have a sticker on their student cards to use these facilities.
  • Weldon Library also has an Access Lab on their second floor, which is also provided by SSD.  Visit the SSD website for more information.
    • If you are interested in acquiring more information about Services for Students with Disabilities, I recommend contacting Sue Burns ( 

If these options don’t work for you, I recommend going to Staples!

How do I find my course reserves? Is my textbook on reserve?

Updated August, 2014

Course reserves can be found, in general, behind the library circulation desk.  To access these readings, the library staff need the: Call Number of the book or Item Number of the article. 

To find this information, head to the Beryl Ivey Library website and click the “Course Reserves” link.  Type in the name of your professor or your course code, and choose the appropriate section (if applicable).  Then you will see a list of the items on reserve for your course.

If the title of an item says “Print or View” the reserve is available electronically.  Just click the title to download the item.  If you are off campus, you may be asked to log in to retrieve your reserve.

For all other reserves, check the “Call number” column.  Before coming to the circulation desk, please have the call number (i.e.: QP141.S62c 2012) or the item number (i.e.: no. 19) ready so the library staff can retrieve your item quickly.

For more information see Western’s Libraries’ Course Reserves Guide.

What do you mean by “the reference section”?

Most libraries have a separate area for high-use, super helpful books.  Usually “reference” books are associated with encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses (or “thesauri” for the grammatically correct), but other things can often be found in reference, too.  For our Foods and Nutrition students, we have many books that will help you with your case studies (i.e. things on different diseases, medications, etc).  Other students will find handbooks, manuals, atlases, etc, in Brescia’s reference section.

Normally reference books cannot be taken out the library, but you can use them for as long as you like while you’re there (unlike reserves, which are two-hour loan items).  We just ask that you be conscientious of other students: if you need the book, chances are your classmates do too.

Brescia’s reference section is located in the main area of the library: they’re shorter shelves near the computer lab, organized by call number.

One student asked where Weldon’s reference section is.  This is hard to explain via blog, but I’ll try my best: when you walk into Weldon, go straight past the computers and past their big library desk.  Straight ahead is a separate room: this is the reference section.  It’s also organized by call number, so it’s best if you know what you’re looking for (at least generally, anyway).  The Weldon staff, though, would be happy to help you find what you’re looking for.