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LITS Student Guide: 2020-2021

Getting started with remote research at MHC

We have prepared a series of videos to help you get oriented to doing remote library research at MHC:

Read through the rest of this page for a brief written overview of how to search for and access library materials remotely and information about borrowing physical materials. 

Additional tutorials, information, and resources can be found on our self-enrolling Research Instruction course in Moodle. Log into Moodle and then self-enroll in the course to access the materials there. 

LITS staff are here to support you along the way! Feel free to contact Research Services for research assistance and/or Circulation Services with any questions about library materials. 

Logging into library databases from off campus

If you are working from off campus, it's helpful to know how access the library's databases when you're not on the campus network.

Most databases

When you click on the link to most databases in the library website's Databases A to Z list or in any of the Library Research Guides, you'll be prompted to login using your Mount Holyoke username (not your full email address, just everything before and password.

Mount Holyoke login screen

The two main exceptions to this are the Five Colleges Library Catalog and Discover, which will allow you to open and search them without first logging in, but then there are additional steps you need to take to access any of the online (electronic) resources they contain.

The Five College Libraries Catalog

You can search the Five College Libraries Catalog from off campus without logging into it. If you find an electronic resource that you wish to open, you'll be prompted to login using your Mount Holyoke username and password when you click on the link to the resource on the catalog record's LOCATION & AVAILABILITY page. Note: Mount Holyoke users only have access to those electronic resources that have a "Mount Holyoke: Link to resource" or "Five Colleges: Link to resource." 


You can also search Discover from off campus without logging in, but that restricts you from seeing all search results. It's best to login for an optimal search experience. When you open Discover from off campus, you'll notice a message/link across the top of the screen that reads "Hello, Guest. You can see partial results here, but you must login for full access." Clicking on that link opens a page prompting you to login using your Mount Holyoke username and password.

Discover search page with link to login selected


Finding ebooks and full text articles

Some databases don't contain online copies (full text) of the publications that they index, just searchable citations describing the articles, books, and other materials they track to help you identify those that are relevant to your topic.  Some databases are a mix of citation-only and linked full text content. For the citation-only results, you must take additional steps to get a copy of any articles or books you wish to read. See the InterLibrary Loan section of this guide (below) to get instructions for how to request books/articles that aren't readily available in full-text. Many databases have tools that allow you to limit your search results to only online articles, books, and other materials. Below are examples of how this works in some commonly used databases.


After you run a search in Discover, you'll notice that the results page has a Refine Results sidebar with a Limit To section.  Select the "Full Text Available Online" option to limit your search results to only those articles, books, and other materials that are available online. 

Discover results screen with Full Text Available Online limit option selected

Note that even after selecting "Full Text Available Online" some results will show a PDF or other link to the item, while others will still show an "MH Links Options to get item" button. If you click on any of the MH Links buttons, the MH Links window that opens should show MHC Online Options (other databases to which MHC subscribes that do have the online version of the item).

MH Links page with MHC Online Options circled

Five College Libraries Catalog

Before you begin searching in the Five College Libraries Catalog, you can limit your search to materials available to Mount Holyoke College users in an online/electronic format.  First, on the catalog home page click on the Mount Holyoke link.

Five College Libraries catalog homepage with Mount Holyoke link circled

Then click on the Advanced tab to get to the catalog's advanced search screen.

Catalog homepage with Advanced tab circled


In the Advanced search screen, use the Format menu to limit your search to materials available in an electronic format (electronic formats available include E-books, E-journals, E-Video, and E-Audio).

Five College Libraries catalog advanced search screen with Format menu open

Click on the title of any result you find to view the full catalog record, then on the record's LOCATION & AVAILABILITY link. The Mt. Holyoke Call Numbers & Availability page that opens will have a "Mount Holyoke: Link to resource" or a "Five Colleges: Link to resource."  Clicking on either link will prompt you to login using your Mount Holyoke username and password, then open the electronic resource.

Full text databases

Some of the library's databases are searchable collections of all online articles, books, and/or other materials.  These are often referred to as "full text" databases. After searching for information on your topic, you don't need to take a lot of additional steps to get the articles or books identified in your results, they're linked right there. A couple of helpful databases that fit into this category are:

Required Readings & Streaming Video

In order to equitably meet the needs of students learning both remotely and on campus, library course reserves will be a digital only collection this year. The print course reserves collection has been suspended and will remain unavailable until further notice.

Mount Holyoke courses

LITS reviews all required texts listed in my.mtholyoke and provides an ebook version of these resources whenever possible.  Links to these ebooks will be found in your Moodle course.

PDFs of articles and streaming video for required course reading and viewing may also be in your Moodle course. To comply with the provisions of copyright law, these materials in Moodle are only accessible to students registered in the course for the duration of the course.

If you have questions about course materials we suggest contacting your professor first, as they may already have access.

Five College courses

Other Five College institutions have similar course material procedures, and we suggest contacting your 5C professor if you have questions about accessing your course materials through another institution.

Students enrolled in Five College courses are provided with a guest account that will enable access to ebooks that are only available on that campus.  Additional readings and streaming video may also be available through that campus' course management system (e.g. Moodle, Blackboard, etc.). 

InterLibrary Loan

InterLibrary Loan (ILL), also known as ILLiad, is a service that allows you to borrow materials from libraries around the world by going through the MHC library.

If you need an article or other item that is not readily available to you via LITS, we encourage you to submit an ILL request. You can read more about our InterLibrary Loan service and submit an InterLibrary Loan request here

If you have any questions, email

Borrowing Physical Materials

Students living regionally to MHC are welcome to borrow physical items from LITS. Library materials can be borrowed through our paging and pickup service. Pickup is available to current MHC students, faculty, and staff. Details about the service for fall 2020 can be found on the LITS Services and hours page.

Please note that we can only provide access to available materials from the Five College libraries at this time.

How to request items for pickup:

Use the search box on the LITS homepage to find items in the library catalog. Limit your search by choosing "find library materials" in the dropdown menu.

LITS search box

Items with a status of Available can be requested.

Click the Request Item link and log in using your MHC credentials to submit your request.

Record of Stamped from the beginning. item available. "request item" circled

LITS staff will page the item from the stacks, or receive via Five College delivery, and email you when it is ready for pickup. If you are living off campus you will need to schedule a curbside appointment to pick up your items. 

Contact with questions, or if you need assistance requesting items.


Returning Physical Materials

You may return books, CDs, and DVDs via the external book drop at the Main library which is open 24/7.  There is no immediate need to return most items.  Students are welcome and encouraged to return materials when they return to campus.

The libraries at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College and UMass have extended due dates through February 3, 2021 for faculty, staff and students who took library materials home in spring of 2020.  Loans from Smith College have not been extended through the spring semester.

If you need to return items from off campus, mail them to the address below. LITS recommends using book rate shipping -- it's cheapest!

Mount Holyoke College LITS

Attn: Library Circulation Rm. 228

50 College Street

South Hadley, MA 01075

Contact if you have questions about how to return library materials.

Library Partners

Libraries around the world have a long history of collaboration, and we love to help our users! LITS encourages you to take advantage of public and academic library resources, and we are grateful for our partnerships.

Local librariesnational library icon

Your local public or academic library is a great place to access materials while you're away from campus. Academic libraries often provide library cards for local community members, and your local public library likely offers the same InterLibrary Loan service that LITS provides. If there are books you need or want that aren't immediately available at your local public library, inquire with staff there about InterLibrary Loan.

WorldCat is a shared catalog of books and other materials in libraries worldwide. Use WorldCat to locate materials at a library near you, and contact or your local library if you need assistance.

LITS strongly encourages you to call ahead and inquire about services currently available at your local library, as their offerings may be impacted by the current public health situation.

Boston Public Library eCardBoston Public Library eCard logo

As a Mount Holyoke student who lives in Massachusetts for most of the year to attend school, you are eligible for a Boston Public Library eCard. An eCard gives you access to the vast array of the BPL's online resources.  Some of our favorites include:

Use your Mount Holyoke campus address and email account to register for your eCard.

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form