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20 Prestigious University Libraries That Can Be Accessed From Home

Oct 15, 2008

University libraries are unparalleled sources of information. Although most people think that you have to be affiliated with a university to take advantage of research opportunities, the truth is that many prestigious university libraries can be accessed online. Here are 20 that you can visit today.

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Access the Best Libraries from Home

These days, many universities have a digital library that allows the general public access to items such as historical photographs, sheet music and letters. Read this list to find out about 20 libraries that allow free access to their digital collections from the comfort of your own home.

American Universities

  • Princeton University Library - Princeton University Library is one of the world's most prestigious research libraries. Electronic resources include statistical data, images, maps and extensive databases. The public may freely access the Princeton University Digital Library for high-resolution digitized versions of materials found in the Princeton University Library.
  • Yale University Library - The Yale University Library holds more than 500,000 digital images, ancient manuscripts and classic books that can be viewed online.
  • Carnegie Mellon University Library - The Universal Digital Library (hosted by CMU) plays host to more than one million digital books that can be accessed from home and read at your leisure.
  • Harvard University Library - Harvard students and non-students alike can take advantage of the many web-accessible collections offered by Harvard University Library.
  • Duke University Libraries - The digital collection at Duke University is a great place to start when you're looking for research materials. The collection is huge and contains a wide range of resources and subjects.
  • Cornell University Library - The Cornell Library has an impressive digital collection open to the general public. All collections have some sort of historic significance and include text and images.
  • Columbia University Library - Columbia University provides multiple digital collections and online exhibitions that can be viewed online. Resources include everything from photographs and drawings to diaries and correspondence.
  • Penn Libraries - The University of Pennsylvania's collection of e-resources includes databases, articles, e-journals, magazines, newspapers, images and other references on nearly every topic imaginable. Access is restricted in certain cases because of licensing issues, but many of the resources are open to the general public.
  • Brown University Library - While much of Brown University Library's electronic resources are limited to Brown students, it is host to the Brown Digital Repository which is dedicated to making a wide range of digital collections available to scholars around the world regardless of university status or affiliation. Online resources include everything from sheet music and manuscripts to photographs and government publications.
  • University of Chicago Library - The University of Chicago Library offers an interesting collection of image-based texts. Most are available to the general public, though a few are restricted to staff and students.

International Universities

  • Cambridge University Library - Cambridge University hosts an excellent digital image collection online that can be accessed from your home. Items of interest include writings, olds letters, sketches, bibles, photographs and ancient scientific texts.
  • University of Oxford - The University of Oxford Text Archive is filled with digitally preserved texts in over 25 languages. Offerings include everything from classic books and manuscripts to reference materials.
  • Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Virtual Library - UOC's Library offers a large digital collection of full text journals, reference materials, statistics and e-books. Visitors can search for materials in three languages: English, Spanish and Catalan.
  • American Academy in Rome - The American Academy in Rome houses several noteworthy collections in its electronic resources section. Nearly all are open to the general public.
  • Copenhagen University Library - Copenhagen University's library is a part of the Royal Library and is home to a number of e-resources. The digital library offers maps, pictures, sheet music and more.
  • Imperial College Digital Library - The Imperial College Digital Repository (also known as Spiral) is open to everyone. The library collection includes full text peer-reviewed versions of journals, articles and other documents.
  • University College Dublin Digital Library - The UCD Digital Library has a large diversity of items available online. Resources available include a host of historical materials, photographs, letters and more.
  • United Nations University Library - Researchers, scholars and interested parties can access most of the electronic resources offered through the United Nations University Library. Collections include books, e-journals, abstracts, encyclopedias, statistics and other research and reference materials.
  • University of Adelaide Library - This Australian university provides a wonderful online library, called ebooks@Adelaide, that's free for everyone to use. The library includes classic works of literature, science, history and philosophy.
  • University of Edinburgh Library - Edinburgh's online library offers references, e-journals, articles and other collections. Many of the licensed materials are limited to Edinburgh students and staff, though the general public can request special access on the library's website.
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