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!

Can you download books from the library to an eBook reader?

Update: Western Libraries as provided a compatibility chart that you can use to see if a specific e-book format will be compatible with your device. If you have trouble with downloading an e-book, please check this chart.

Unfortunately, the simple answer is “maybe, sort-of.”  Brescia and the other campus libraries receive their eBooks from a variety of different publishers, meaning they’re not compatible with every e-reader.

A few librarians at Western have put together a LibGuide (webpage) to deal with this issue.  As the webpage says: “Most of the eBooks at your library are downloadable to a mobile device, whether an eReader, smartphone, or tablet. However, figuring out which device will work with which eBooks, and how much of an eBook is downloadable is not always easy. Various eBook collections come in different formats, which work with different devices. Also each collection has its own restrictions in terms of how much of the book can be downloaded” (Forbes, Jewell, Lupton, & Taylor, 2012).

To visit this webpage, please visit:

How do I find newspaper articles online?

There are three fast ways to find newspaper articles online (note: off campus users must log in first!):

  1. Newspaper databases
    Select online databases just include news sources. The easiest ones to use are: Factiva (includes many Canadian, American and International titles) Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies. You could also try Lexis Nexis, but make sure to use the search box labelled “Search the News.”
  2. Individual Newspapers
    You can access many individual newspaper titles online through the catalogue.  Examples include The Globe and Mail, National Post, The London Free Press, The New York Times, and many (many!) more.
  3. Summon
    Summon is the default search on the Beryl Ivey Library homepage and Western Libraries.  It’s set up to not search for newspaper articles by default, since most people are looking for academic articles.
    To look for newspapers, start with typing your keywords into Summon’s search box.
    From the results page, you’ll see a list of limits on the left hand side.  “Newspaper Article” will be crossed out. Click the “X”; when the page reloads, select Newspaper Article as the Content Type
    The results displayed on your screen should all be newspaper articles.  Clicking any of the titles should link you directly to the full text newspaper article.Summon_screenshot_cleverresearcher

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.

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.

How long does RACER take?

As you would expect, this depends on where your item is coming from and what type of resource you’re requesting: Western’s answer is 1 to 4 weeks for book, and 1 week for a photocopied journal article.

The path that an interlibrary loan request takes is as follows (roughly):

  1. You fill in your request
  2. Your request is received by the Western Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department
  3. They review whether ILL is absolutely necessary (we might have the item here at Western, hiding somewhere)
  4. They send your request to the other university’s ILL department
  5. This ILL department then sends your request to their holding library
  6. That library receives the request
  7. The library staff process your request and send the item back to their own ILL department
  8. Your item is shipped here to Weldon
  9. Weldon ships the item to Brescia
  10. We email you

That’s many steps.  Things that can delay this process include: holidays, weekends, libraries that are far away. So, make sure to use RACER when you still have lots of time before your essay is due.  Here is Western Libraries’ answer to this question:

How long will it take for my request to arrive?

  • Your request may come from anywhere in Canada, the United States or off continent.
  • Staff find the best source and arrange for the material to be delivered to campus.
  • If your request has a deadline, please note this in “special instructions” on the RACER form.
  • Photocopies are normally available within a week.
  • Loans usually take 1 to 4 weeks to arrive.


For more information on requesting Interlibrary Loan material, see RACER’s online 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.