[Library lessons] When should I pay for an article?

When should you pay for an article?  Just about never!

If you are doing research and you get to a screen where it tells you how much an article costs, throw the engine in reverse and back out of there.  We’ve got you covered.

Let’s say you are using Google or whatever and you find an article in Canned food in Germany.  This article will make your assignment awesome.  But the site is telling you that you have to pay for it.  What?!?!

Try this first.  Go the library homepage and click on the link that says Journals.  (In the Research Tools part of the page.)

Type in the name of the journal.  (Spelling counts; this database is not for the sloppy typist.) The results screen will tell you if we have access to the journal, and, if we do, where it is.  It will tell you if we have it in print or microfilm, and it will list all of the databases where we have access to it.  It will also tell you what years we have.  So if you have the citation for the article, you can find out whether we have access to it.  Just pick a database (or the print or microfilm copy) and go get your article.  Ta da!

What if it’s not in the list?  Don’t panic.  If you can give us a little time, we can get the article for you from somewhere else, through InterLibrary Loan.  In the early days, we would tie the article around the neck of a snail and point him in the general direction of the library.

(Ok, not really.)

InterLibrary loan is much faster now, since librarians mostly send PDF copies of articles to each other to fill user requests.  But it still takes a few days, largely because of copyright restrictions.  (I won’t bore you with the details.  Want to know more?  Contact me.)

By the way: Canned food in GermanyWe have it!

Don’t pay for articles.  Check with us first.  In most cases, we can get you a copy at no cost to you.  If you’re having trouble finding out whether we have access to a particular article, stop tearing your hair out and ask us.  It’s one of the reasons why we are here!

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