As a distance learning student, one of the greatest resources available is the library. “Well duh,” you may be saying “That’s a no-brainer.” And you’d be right in saying that. It IS a no brainer, but the truth is a majority of distance learning students do not take full advantage of this resource.
No matter where you live, there is probably a public library within driving distance. And there are a great many advantages to going to a good old fashioned library. But if that is not an option, either do to travel or health issues, or simply because its raining out and you don’t want to get wet, you can use your laptop or tablet to explore a whole world of libraries.
Your Online School’s Library – Not all online degree programs have a digital library, but more and more of them do every year. And if your school does offer such a thing, it will be a tremendous help to your coursework. These kind of online libraries are geared specifically towards the students of their program, and can only be accessed by those students. The material contained therein is specifically for these online students, often with the input of the faculty and staff, and can contain not only books but research articles, papers, and other material students can use for writing papers, citing references, or creating a thesis or dissertation.
General Online Libraries – Not affiliated with a particular school or program, more and more digital libraries are popping up on the internet. These tend to be hubs of information, where thousands of articles, papers, and research essays are posted, and either available to download, or simply view on a web browser. Some of these libraries are free, but some of the larger ones require a sign-up or a pay-to-use. In any event, they tend to be better organized and more reliable than Wikipedia, and should be explored as a resource.
The Free Library features literally millions of trade journals, magazine and newspaper articles, and reference documents. It is one of the largest in the world, and requires only a quick sign-up to use the site. Well organized and with a staggering amount of depth, this is a great site for any student to use, regardless of their field of study.
Questia is an online research library that has over seventy thousand books, and over six million research articles available for its users. It has been around since 1998, and is one of the most respected research libraries on the net. You do have to pay to use it, but it offers a free one day trial, so a student can dig through the stacks and see if it is a good fit for them.
The Online Books Page is actually more of a link dump than anything, but it’s a very good link dump. Updated daily, it lists over one million books that are available free online. This site is better for English and History students, and just for people who like to read. Not geared so much toward research, but still a good free resource for students.