Library FAQs for Students and Faculty

This page is a work in progress and will continue to be updated as we learn more. If you have a question, please email us at!

General Information

What services are being offered by the library at this time?

Librarians are on hand to help as classes move online with consultations, instruction, advice on creating or revising research assignments, and more. You can live chat with us Monday-Thursday, 9AM-8PM and Friday, 1-5PM, email us, make an online research appointment, or contact your subject liaison

Since physical access to collections is not currently an option, we are doing our best to purchase or trial materials as needed for faculty. The libraries offer a large amount of material online, and that body grows every day. Let us know how we can help you! 


Should I return my books that I have checked out?

At this time, please do not return books, equipment, DVDs, etc. to the libraries. We have extended all due dates to summer and are waiving all fines/fees. If you absolutely must return your materials, you can drop them off in our book drop at the front door. (The drive-up drop is locked.)

Can I come to Swem to pick up print materials?

All W&M library locations are closed to faculty, students, staff and the general public through the end of the spring semester. Closing these spaces serves two essential purposes:

  1. Protect members of our staff and community from the spread of COVID-19 by discouraging in-person social engagement
  2. Allow library staff to focus on supporting distance learning and teaching through scanning, consultation, and collaboration with other units across the W&M community. 

I’ve found a book in print that I’d like for my class/research. How do I get a copy?

You can request the book through InterLibrary Loan and they may be able to find an electronic version for you.

Can I access Swem "stuff" from off-campus?

Yes you can! Most of our resources are available online and searchable at If you find an item only available in the Swem stacks, you can request it from InterLibrary Loan and they will try to find a digital copy for you.

Most of our electronic resources connect off-campus through a proxy which will require you to sign in with your W&M credentials. If you are having problems connecting to a resource, please email with details about the problem and the name of the database or website you are trying to access.

What should I do with my ILL items that are due soon?

Anyone with an ILL item in their possession can hold on to it until the end of the semester.  We are automatically asking lending libraries for renewals on your behalf, and we are not sending out overdue notices.  When campus operations return to normal, we will be in contact with you about returns.

If there are any articles or book chapters you need, please continue to submit ILL requests.  We are still able to receive digitized copies of many items.

Any questions about ILL?

Can I access Special Collections at this time?

The Special Collections Research Center is closed and our archivists are unable to access onsite collections for research and digitization at this time. Learn more about our digitized and digital collections and materials from other institutions on our Resources to Support Teaching & Learning research guide.

How can I access digitized primary sources, rare books, and other special collections from home?

You can find some of our collections online including University Archives, oral histories, and some notable collections that have been digitized. Many of these resources are available in PDF format. Below are a few places to start:

Has the deadline for the 2020-2021 SCRC Travel Grant applications been extended due to the COVID-19 crisis?

Yes! The deadline for applications has been extended to May 1, 2020.

I have a special request. What is the best way to let you know?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a special request. Email us at

Faculty Questions

Can I have my physical items on reserve scanned for my students to access via Blackboard?

Unfortunately, to ensure the safety of our staff, we are no longer able to scan materials on reserve. However, we are working hard to purchase, borrow, or trial materials that can be shared digitally. Let us know what you need for your class through our reserves form, and we will do our best to find it. 

I need an item for my class, can you get it for me?

We will do our best! We are accepting requests for articles, book chapters. and streaming media. Many of these may already be online and can be found in our catalog at You can post links from the catalog to Blackboard - just make sure to copy the permalink icon ( ) to get a persistent URL.

Faculty requests for materials can be submitted through our course reserve form. Let us know what you need and we will try to find an electronic version.

For non-urgent materials, you can also suggest a purchase.

What new resources are available?

We have multiple new databases available for trial through the end of the semester. You can find a list of all new trials in the databases section of the website.

We also maintain a list of new free resources that library vendors have made available during this crisis. That list can be found on our library resources guide, along with other curated lists of useful resources for teaching and learning remote. 

Student Questions

I don't have any of my course texts with me. How do I keep up with my class?

First, rest assured you’re not the only one with this problem. The Libraries are working with many professors to find electronic versions of their course texts right now. Some textbooks are temporarily available through websites like VitalSource and RedShelf, so try those first (you will need to create an account to get started). If all else fails, get in touch with us at to talk over your options.  

How do I do research now that I don't have all my books and I'm no longer on campus?

You still have lots of options!

  1. Our online databases and ebook collections are all still accessible from off-campus - you'll just need to log in with your W&M username and password.
  2. Using Google Scholar? Here's a how-to guide on making sure articles route through W&M resources.
  3. Did you find a book you really really want for your research? Use the Table of Contents to pick out the most important chapter or two and make your request through Interlibrary Loan. We'll do our best to get what you're looking for!