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Penn State University Libraries

Frequently Asked Questions

Who does the Library serve and how?

Penn State Students and Scholars - All 96,000 Penn State students and 41,000 faculty and staff, including those in the World Campus, have access to all Libraries resources on 23 Penn State campuses, and in multiple locations at University Park.

Residents of Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania residents have access to our circulating collections at Penn State locations and through their public library via Interlibrary Loan Service and can access selected digital and rare resources at campus locations.

Scholars across the Globe - We are a member of WorldCat, which means our circulating materials can be shared with other WorldCat member institutions.

What do you mean when you say "research library"?

It means that we have tenured research faculty that conduct library-related academic research, but it also means that we serve the needs of our University researchers providing them with access to scholarly resources and the expertise to find and utilize those materials. Penn State Libraries are among the 126 members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

What about Google?

An important search tool, Google has not traditionally been a content provider. It helps find resources. In the scholarly world, most of what has been created since 1923 is copyrighted and controlled by publishers. You can find the world's science using Google, but you can't read it without a subscription. We spend more than $14 million each year subscribing to electronic resources for use by our students and faculty.

Do you still buy books?

We house 6.9 million volumes. We purchase over 100,000 books each year. Our 35 subject librarians collaborate with faculty in every discipline at Penn State to determine which materials are most relevant, timely and important to the collections.

Why build more facilities if students can get the library resources online?

The Pattee and Paterno Libraries had over 3.2 million visits last year. We had a gate count of over 7.2 million across the Commonwealth Campuses. Our physical spaces are busier and more crowded than ever. Students have always been able to check out the majority of our resources, but finding the quiet and collaborative space to use those resources and the expertise to understand them, remains a priority.

How do we rank among our peers?

We are among the top ten research libraries in North America, including Harvard University, Yale University, University of Toronto, Columbia University, University of Michigan, New York University, University of California-Berkeley, Princeton University, and the University of Texas.