7 things you can do at Penn Libraries—online!

When you think of a university library, you may be imagining a temple of knowledge: stacks upon stacks of books, study carrels, and the hushed sounds of pages turning. The University of Pennsylvania campus is home to many such spaces for reading and learning, from the central hub of the Van Pelt Library to the niche research collections for biomedicine, math, music, and other subjects across academic disciplines.

But did you know that Penn Libraries offers many resources and services online?

As a Penn LPS Online student, you can enrich your online learning experience with library databases, digital media, student services, and more. To unlock the best resources Penn Libraries has to offer online students, all you need is a PennKey—your online identity at Penn. Whether you’re enrolled in an online course or certificate or pursuing your online bachelor’s degree, you can:

  1. Check out a book
    That’s what libraries are for, right? But you don’t have to wander the stacks and load up your backpack with heavy volumes—you can read entire books online, anytime. The Penn Libraries e-book guide highlights a few digital collections you can browse in specific subject areas. You can also locate electronic copies of books using the online catalog (called Franklin, after a certain famous Philadelphian): just limit your catalog search by selecting “online” and “book,” and discover reference books you can peruse right in your web browser.
  2. Stream movies
    When it’s your turn to host movie night, do you select a recent Best Picture nominee, a swashbuckling blockbuster classic, or an obscure Swedish horror film? With the streaming service Swank Digital Campus, you don’t have to choose. Browse award-winning feature films, shorts, documentaries, and more on Penn Libraries streaming collections.
  3. Stream music
    You can hear thousands of classical, jazz, and contemporary world music albums through Penn Libraries streaming audio and video—all you have to do is press play. Looking for soothing instrumentals to help you focus? Choose “Study Time” from the themed playlists in Naxos Music Library and pick your piano soundtrack. Opera aficionados can watch recorded performances online, and world music lovers can stream global sounds from Afrobeat to zydeco.
  4. Get news you can use
    You don’t need a subscription to peruse the latest issues of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Browse Penn Libraries contemporary newspapers online to access databases such as Factiva and LexisNexis, which provide access to current and past newspapers from around the world.
  5. Refresh your software skills
    In an increasingly digital workplace, sometimes “other duties as assigned” means grappling with graphic design or struggling with software outside of your expertise. The Weigle Information Commons can guide you to webinars, books, and tutorials to get up to speed quickly on information technology. Need more in-depth instruction? Your PennKey also opens up a library of LinkedIn Learning online training videos that cover a wide range of software, technologies, and business strategies.
  6. Fall down a research rabbit hole
    Beyond books and newspapers, some of the most fascinating written resources may be found in an online library database via Franklin. You can start with a few of the most popular databases linked at the top of the catalog, and easily navigate to Google Scholar or ScienceDirect to find published essays, articles, reviews, or book chapters about any topic that interests you. Like Wikipedia—if Wikipedia were written exclusively by scholars and experts—these digital collections reward exploration: you can start by searching JSTOR for reviews of your favorite fantasy television series and end up reading about the deadly politics of Roman empresses.
  7. Contact a specialist
    If the volume of online library databases seems intimidating, don’t worry: no matter the subject area or research paper topic, there’s a librarian who can help you get started. Subject specialists can direct you to the best library databases for articles, books, and data in your area of study, and offer best practices and advice for moving forward with your research. You can even request a research consultation by email, video conference, or phone.

Still have questions about what the library can do for you? Odds are you aren’t the only one: check the Penn Libraries FAQ section for tips, instructions, and more. You can even get your questions answered in real-time by using the online library chat service, which is staffed by a librarian from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET on Monday through Friday.

Penn LPS Online partners in your success. For more information about online courses, certificates, and the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences undergraduate degree, start with the Academics section of our website.


Apply Today

Ready to apply to Penn LPS Online?

Apply Now

Learn more about Penn LPS Online