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COVID-19 Library Updates

Last updated May 28, 2020 at 1:00 pm

With spring quarter classes going online, the Libraries are here to help. 

This page contains all relevant information related to our current operations and response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including updates to facilities and operations, access to remote services, and other helpful links.

To see University updates, visit the Northwestern COVID-19 website.

Online Materials

The Libraries have a wide variety of online research resources. Most databases, e-journals, and other electronic resources allow for remote access by the Northwestern community using a valid netID and password.

  • NUsearch: Find books, e-books, articles, journals, video, audio, and other materials. 
  • Databases A-Z: Find all available databases. Search the list or filter it by database subject, type, or publisher.
  • Research Guides: Find compilations of recommended resources curated by Northwestern librarians.
  • Catalogs and Search Tools: Find more search tools and when to use them.

Additional key online resources

Some publishers and vendors have made resources available for free on a temporary basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Hathi Trust Emergency Access: Northwestern has received temporary emergency access for materials held in Hathi that are also held physically in Northwestern Libraries. More information on emergency access can be found at here.
  • Free Resources Available in Response to COVID-19:  See a list of temporarily free publishers’ resources for textbooks, streaming video, and many other e-resources. Please pay attention to the terms and conditions of these offers, as not all are available to the Northwestern community. We are diligently working to explore these offers and provide information on those that are available. If you have questions about a specific resource, contact your subject librarian for individual assistance.

Tools for Connecting Remotely

Tools for off-campus research

  • Northwestern Information Technology VPN: maintain a secure connection while working off campus by connecting to the Virtual Private Network.
  • Lean Library: access articles, journals, and databases licensed by the Libraries while searching the web using the Lean Library browser extension.

Remote PC Access

Northwestern University Libraries is temporarily providing remote access to PC workstations located in the library buildings, which allows you to use software such as SPSS, SAS, MATLAB, the Adobe Creative Suite, and more. View a list of available software and full instructions on the Remote PC Access page. Remote access is limited to Northwestern community members with an active NetID.

Access requires connection to the Northwestern VPN. View instructions for connecting on the NUIT VPN guide.

How to Connect via the VMware Horizon Website (Recommended)

  1. Visit
  2. Click “VMware Horizon HTML Access”.
  3. Log in with your NetID and password.
  4. Click “Libraries Desktop”.
  5. To locate specific software, click the Start button in the bottom left corner of the screen and begin typing the name of the program you wish to use.
  6. Before logging out, make sure to upload any files you need to save to the cloud (such as Google Drive or Northwestern Box); we cannot guarantee future access to your files if you save them within the remote desktop.
  7. When finished, click “Options” in the top left corner of the screen and select “Disconnect and Log Off”.

To view instructions on how to connect via the VMware Horizon client, iOS, or Android, or for instructions on setting up Multiple monitors, please see the Remote PC Access page.

If you are having issues connecting, please contact

Immediate Assistance

Have a question? For immediate assistance email or chat with us.

  • Email us at; questions are usually answered by the next business day. 
  • Chat live with a librarian from Monday - Thursday, 8 am - 8 pm; Friday, 8 am - 6 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm. Questions submitted after hours will be answered the next business day.


Remote Instruction Support

Subject librarians are available to help faculty with course modifications to accommodate remote instruction in spring 2020. We can identify and suggest alternate course or research materials that will be accessible to remote learners, and provide library instruction via Canvas, Zoom, or Panopto.

Visit the Teach with the Libraries page to learn about instructional services offered, and contact your subject librarian to discuss your specific instructional needs.

Course reserves

Course reserves must move to entirely digital delivery for the start of spring quarter. This means we cannot handle physical items at this time, and cannot create new scans of materials.

Here’s how this might affect you:

If you have used Canvas and Course Reserves previously to teach a specific course:
No problem. Just copy the links to the materials you used before; all your previous scans and streams will be available.

If you need to add new digital resources to your Canvas course:
When you find e-books, journal articles, streaming videos, or other online library resources, look for permalinks that can be added to your course. This helpful video explains how.

If you need help finding digital resources for your course:
Contact your librarian subject specialist for help identifying digital alternatives for physical materials. Though it won’t be possible to provide equivalent online resources for all our physical materials, the Libraries have extensive digital collections. We are committed to helping you locate and make the most of the online resources we have available.

Remote Research Support

Email us at; questions are usually answered by the next business day. Please see Immediate Assistance above to chat with a librarian live.

Subject librarians with expertise in specific areas are available to answer questions via email, and can set up remote research consultations via phone or video conferencing software.

Interlibrary loan (ILL)

Due to closures at partner institutions, Northwestern Libraries have suspended ILL of physical items as well as scans from physical volumes. We will continue to provide access to content already available in digital formats.


The Libraries are offering virtual workshops to ensure you have access to the resources you need. Upcoming workshops include:

Exploring the Readex Universe

Northwestern is very fortunate to have access to an enormous amount of content from Readex, a provider of U.S. newspapers, books, broadsides, ephemera, and U.S. government publications. These collections cover over 350 years of content from the Americas. Northwestern librarians Geoff Morse and Harriet Lightman will be offering a workshop on ways to get the most out of this material. Some highlights of this workshop will include searching America’s Historical Newspapers, locating current content, and exploring other collections such as Early American Imprints and the American Pamphlets Series.


For a full list of library workshops and events, visit our event page.

Circulation, Interlibrary Loan, and Building Access

  • Hours: As of March 18, all Evanston and Chicago campus library buildings are closed. For information regarding Galter Health Sciences Library, refer to their COVID-19 updates page. Students, faculty and staff will not be able to enter the buildings through at least May 31, at which time the University will be reassessing these policies. Check back to this page or the Libraries' hours page for the latest information.
  • Events:  All events in the library have been canceled through May 31, 2020. Filming and photography requests are not being accepted at this time.
  • Book pickup:  Circulation of physical materials is suspended while the University operates with only essential staff on site.  If this affects your course planning or research, please contact us at 847-491-7658 or and we will try to help you locate alternative online materials.
  • Carrels: Library materials and personal items can be retrieved when the library buildings re-open. 
  • Course reserves: The Libraries will continue to provide links to electronic content for courses. Scanning of book chapters and capture of video content is temporarily suspended. For details on these changes, including links to instructional resources, visit the library's blog.
  • Interlibrary loan (ILL): Due to closures at partner institutions, Northwestern Libraries have suspended ILL of physical items as well as scans from physical volumes. We will continue to provide access to content already available in digital formats. 


Contact us

If you have questions not addressed here, contact us!

847-491-7658 or