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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.

Super simple Library introduction

A super simple but helpful introduction to the library

COVID and the Library

These are unusual times. Many important parts of the library are not available.

Stay up-to-date. Things change often. 

COVID-19 Library Services. Some examples (see link for more):

  • The library buildings are mostly closed! 
  • We have many electronic resources (but not everything is digital).
  • We offer curbside pickup for some physical books and things.

Library services for Fall 2020. Some examples (see link for more) : 

  • Study spaces very limited and must be booked in advance.
  • No textbook lending.
    • You can 'recommend a purchase" for textbooks BUT most textbooks do not have a free, ebook version for library sharing. 
  • No equipment lending. No laptops.
  • "Place Holds" may take a little longer
  • No browsing the shelves (and finding great sources by accident)

What is the library? Where is it?

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

PHYSICAL (many of these are unavailable due to COVID - check the website for updates) VIRTUAL
  • Buildings and spaces in buildings
  • Course and research resources:
    • e.g. books, scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, maps, data sources, music, films, primary sources, archival material, diaries, photos, letters and reports
  • Live people to answer questions
  • Study spaces
  • Equipment: printers, scanners, computer stations, listening/viewing stations for music and video, microfilm machines
  • Website:
  • Study and research resources: e-books e-journals, digitised maps and data and primary sources, streaming films and music
  • Search engine databases
  • Help through chat, email, and virtual meetings (zoom, google meet).

What might be different for international students?

  • Knowledge from outside lectures, textbooks, and readings is usually required.
  • 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. 
  • Canadian students don't necessarily know how to use the library either. 

* all international students are different (e.g. countries, programs, levels, languages, library familiarity) so these might not be new to you. 

DIY library: Do it yourself

The library website is:

There is also a link at the top of every ualberta webpage. 


UAlberta library website screen shot Aug 2020

Library website highlights and key links 

  • Course materials: Some professors put your readings here. Sometimes we have textbooks to borrow for free for a short time. 
  • "Search the library" box: This searches the NEOS catalogue only. It finds many things (e.g. books, films, music) but not journal articles (you can search for journal titles and then the articles).
  • "Find articles": searches about 300 of our 1500 databases. It finds many things (articles, newspapers, reports) but not books .
  • Subject Guides: use these to find searching tools and strategies specific to your faculty, department, discipline
  • RefWorks: use this to keep track of books and articles you find - and help create bibliographies or works cited lists.
  • Library Services:
    • L-Pass: use your CCID to register for free EPL (Edmonton Public Library) account for more leisure-type resources (fiction, movies, music)
    • 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 trade with many world libraries

Getting Help

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.

Don't be shy.

  • 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

(note: see library website for COVID limitations, including curb-side service)

Electronic Collections and Tools

  • "Search the library": Use the "online" facet on the results page for ebooks and streaming options
    • Note: this only searches NEOS shared library, not any of our other 1600+ databases
  • "Find articles": searches about 300 of our 1600 databases but not our shared UAlberta/NEOS catalogue
  • 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 an electronic version if you ask. (note: be sure to change the notification option)

Help options

  • In-person (when covid is over...)
    • Service desks: for shorter, more straight-forward questions
    • Librarian consultations: for longer, more complicated, more ambiguous questions and discussions
  • Virtual
    • Ask-Us (chat, email, text)
    • Librarian virtual consultations (e.g. zoom or google meet)


Useful Non-Library Links

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.

Study in Alberta

Government of Alberta website for higher education options in Alberta

New Resident Programs

City of Edmonton resources for new residents.

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.