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International Students

We would like to welcome you to University of Alberta library. Please feel free to contact us with any library related question that you might have.

Library introductions

Simple but helpful introduction to the library (UA library)

Library and research "cheatsheet" reminder of things you've seen/heard, or hints of things you could ask us about (David Sulz, librarian)

Official UA Library tutorial videos

Playlist of search demo videos (David Sulz, librarian)

What is the library?

You will be expected to use the library!

  • Your instructor may not tell you to use the library - but they assume you will.
  • Introductory classes might be all lecture and textbook - but that will change.
  • You might not realize you are using "the library" - but you often are.

The Library is both PHYSICAL and VIRTUAL

  • Live people to answer questions
  • Course and research resources:
    • Books, scholarly journals, maps, data sources, music, films, primary sources, archival materials
    • Required course materials on reserve (save money)
  • Study spaces
  • Equipment to use/borrow: printers, scanners, computer stations, listening/viewing stations for music and video, microfilm machines
  • Study and research resources:
    • e-books e-journals, digitised maps and data and primary sources, streaming films and music
  • Search engine databases (1500+ all different than google)
  • Virtual Help - chat, email, and virtual meetings (zoom, google meet).

What might be different for international students?

* Note: International students are all different (e.g. countries, programs, levels, languages, library familiarity) so these might not be new to you. Feel free to share others. 


  • Canadian students don't necessarily know how to use the library either (so don't be shy to ask)
  • The library is mostly self-serve and DIY. You find the things you need and get them yourself. But...
  • Librarians and staff LOVE TO HELP people. Our job is to help people find things, not protect the collection.
  • There is no single search box. We have over 1500 search databases, they all do something different.
  • We share our catalogue search with about 50 libraries (NEOS).
    • You can request a book (place hold) from any of them and have it delivered to any other library for pick-up.
  • We often only have 1 copy of books - and you can borrow it.
  • If we don't have something, we can usually get it if you ask. We might buy a copy or borrow it from another library in the world (ILL inter-library loan). 


  • Knowledge from outside lectures, textbooks, and readings is usually required.
  • Citation and acknowledging the ideas of others is part of our academic culture - and very important.
  • Success in Canada
    • 50% technical skills, marks, credentials
    • 50% soft skills: listen respectfully, join in conversations, contribute to discussions, ask questions, generate ideas, share knowledge, be authentic. (from e.g. Lionel Laroche)
  • Canadian students usually don't know other people in their classes either and are often interested in meeting new people (don't be shy).
  • Many Canadians move a lot so making new acquaintances is always on the radar (don't be shy). 


DIY library: Do it yourself

note: these sections (and more) can be found in the "cheatsheet" mentioned above.

3 Ways of searching

  • Known search: you know something exists because you have a citation (e.g. title, author, journal)
  • Topic/Keyword: you hope something exists, and you hope you can find the right words and the right place to search
    • simple: Japan immigration canada
    • more effective:(japan* OR nikkei OR 日系) N5 (immigra* OR migrant* OR migration* OR emigra* OR “new canadian” OR newcomer)) AND (Canad* OR BC OR B.C. OR “british columbia” OR “west coast”)
  • Metadata seach: use the metadata in search results (subject terms, keywords, cited by, author, journal)

Library website highlights and key links (

  • AskUs chat or contact a Librarian
  • Course materials: Some professors put your readings here. Sometimes we have textbooks to borrow for free for a short time. 
  • "Search the library" box: Good starting place but NOTperfect. It searches 300 of our 1600 specialized search databases to finds a variety of things (e.g. books, articles, newspapers films, music from many different subjects - but not all). 
  • Subject Guides: Use these to find more specific searching tools and strategies.
  • Library Services:
    • L-Pass: use your CCID to register for free EPL (Edmonton Public Library) account. E.g. fiction, movies, music, and lots more.
    • If we don't have something you need for class or research.
    1. Try AskUs chat or contact a Librarian
    2. Recommend a Purchase: specify if you want print or electronic and change the notification choice
    3. Interlibrary Loan: we share with many world libraries 

Getting Help

Don't be shy. There are many ways to get help. Ask different people - there is no correct way to use the library and we all have different approaches.

  • Online Chat or Text Help
    • Best for short, straight-forward questions. E.g. Do you have this book? What are the library hours? Why can't I open this article link? Which librarians can I talk to about my topic? Is there a guide for citing something in the style my professor wants?
  • Email Help
    • Best for longer, but still fairly straight-forward research questions. E.g. How can I find economics literature on Canadian fiscal policy? How can I find ISO standards for hockey equipment? How do I cite a chapter in a book that has been translated from another language several times?
  • Librarian Consultations
    • Best for vague questions that have several parts. E.g. How do I find literature for an inter-disciplinary study needing several kinds of evidence? What are some ways I can keep track and organise the sources I've collected from many places? How can I decide where to publish?

What can you access?

It all depends where you are!

  • On-campus: access to everything we have
  • In or near Edmonton: access to almost of our print and electronic collections as well as services
  • Outside Edmonton or Out of Canada: access to most of our virtual services and collections (but not physical resources)

Print & Physical Collections

Electronic Collections and Tools

  • "Search the library": Look for pdf, html, GetIt button (green), or "internet access"
  • Subject Guides: find specific search databases, resources, and knowledgeable librarians for your discipline.
  • Find Databases: find specific search databases for your discipline
  • Course Materials: find readings for your class
  • Inter-library loan: if we don't have it, we can often get a scan from another library
  • Recommend a Purchase: if we don't have it, we can often buy it (note: be sure to change the notification option)

Useful Non-Library Links

Things to do: Edmonton and UAlberta

Unofficial list created by David Sulz (librarian) for various international groups. Let me know if something is out of date.

University of Alberta International

Everything international students need to know is probably on this page: applications, admissions, immigration, academic support, cultural support, work opportunities, international relations.

New Resident Programs

City of Edmonton resources for new residents.

Study in Alberta

Government of Alberta website for higher education options in Alberta