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Distance Learning: Books

Library orientation and advice for students and faculty in distance/online classes.


Librarians make a special effort to purchase electronic books for subject areas in which SRU offers distance education courses.  Ebooks are accessible through our online catalog.   The catalog lists both print and electronic books, but you can easily limit your search to electronic books only.  Open the drop-down meny "Select Single Limit" and choose "electronic books" at the bottom of the list.


After setting this limit, you can search as normal and see only books that you will be able to access from your location.  

How ebooks appear, and your options for reading and accessing them, vary depending on the vendor and platform.  The majority of our ebooks are from ProQuest's Ebrary, and look like the example below, but don't be alarmed if the one you are trying to access is different.  

You can look at the book's table of contents to get an idea of whether it will be useful to you.  Click "read online" or any link in the table of contents to view the book in your browser window.  Once you are looking at the inside of the book, a menu on the left will give you the option to search within the book for a word or phrase:

You can also download the book to read on your own computer, tablet, or phone.  Search the catalog and navigate back to the book's webpage, using the device you want to download it onto.  Unlike ebooks from Amazon, you cannot use your laptop or desktop to send an ebrary book to your phone or tablet, or vice versa.

Click the "Full Download" button, located just below the "read online" button.  You will be directed to a sign-in page:

Select Slippery Rock from the drop-down menu, and enter your SRU email (including "@") and password.

On the next screen, select your device type: laptop/desktop, iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) or Android (all other brands of tablets and smartphones). 

Step two will prompt you to download an app, either Adobe Digital Editions or Bluefire, depending on the device type you selected.  Both apps are free and safe to use.  Simply click the button and follow the prompts.  You will only need to do this step once for each device.  Next time, you can just click "done with this step," since you already have the app.

In the third step, click the "download book" button.  Depending on your connection speed, the download may take a few minutes.  

Once the download is complete, open the app (Digital Editions or Bluefire) and open the book by clicking or tapping its image.  The book will be returned automatically after 14 days, but if you are not finished with it, you can check it out again as many times as you like. 

Physical Books: Your Options

While the librarians strive to have sufficient electronic resources available to support our online learners, there may be times when you need or want a physical book or other item.  Here are some options:

Option One:  Visit Campus

Some distance students live too far away to make a visit practical, but if you are within driving distance, you are welcome to stop by and use your library privileges in person.  Check the library website for our hours (including evenings and weekends) and use the campus map to find your way around--the library is building number 39 on the map.  You can see the "visiting campus" tab for more information about planning your visit.

  • Normally, your SRU student ID card is used as your library card, but if you explain that you are a distance student, a supervisor can look you up in the system.  (You're entitled to an ID card if you want one; see the "visiting campus" tab for details.)
  • You can check out up to 50 items at one time.
  • Most books check out for four weeks, and non-print materials (DVDs, kits, models, etc.) circulate for one week.  
  • Items can be renewed up to three times, unless someone else has requested the item.  You can renew by phone or over the internet.
  • You can see the circulation policy on our website for more details. 

Option Two: Visit another Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education campus

If you aren't near SRU, but you are near another PASSHE school, check their library catalog to see if they have the item you need.  Students at any PASSHE school are eligible for borrowing privileges at all other PASSHE schools as well.  You will probably need to speak to a circulation supervisor the first time you borrow, to get set up in their computer system.  

Please note that Penn State campuses are a separate system from PASSHE; however, all Pennsylvania residents can request a Resident Borrower's Card, free of charge.  Present a PA driver's license or PA nondriver ID at a Penn State campus library to recieve your card.   

Option Three:  Use interlibrary loan from your local public library

Interlibrary loan allows your local library to borrow books (and sometimes other items) from other libraries on your behalf.  The service is often free of charge, but it does take some time for your request to be processed and the item to be sent.  Policies and procedures vary from one library to another, so talk to a librarian at your local library to find out what he or she can do for you.

Option Four:  Ask about borrowing from other (non-state-system) campuses in your area

 Many college and university libraries offer borrowing privileges to local residents.  If the institution is not part of PASSHE or Penn State, you may need to pay a fee or make a donation in return for your card; however, the required amount is usually fairly reasonable.  If there is a campus near your home or workplace, call and ask.

Option Five:  Buy it

Depending on what book you're looking for and what time constraints you're under, it may make sense to simply buy the book you need.  Keep used books in mind as an option--sites like Amazon, albiris, and make it easy to buy used copies, and the discount from the cover price can be considerable.  To make sure you're getting the best deal, try Bookfinder.  This aggregator site allows you to search and compare prices for numerous online sellers at once.