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FYSEM 110UW: Awakenings

Tips for 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 in the Five College Libraries Catalog

The Five College Libraries Catalog allows you to search materials held not just in the Mount Holyoke library's collection, but in all of the Five College Libraries: Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and UMass Amherst. Due to the pandemic, the Mount Holyoke library building is closed and most of us are working from home. Fortunately, the library collection includes ebooks that can be accessed from wherever you are. Here's how to search for ebooks.

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.

Finding full text of 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.  Other databases are actually searchable collections (or libraries) of all full text content. Then there are databases that are a mix of citation only and linked full text content. So how do you get copy of any articles or books that you discover in a database, especially if the database is citation only or mix of citations and full text? Some tips for how to do so follow.

Limiting to full text

Discover is a frequently used database because it simultaneously searches most of the library's subject databases and the catalog. It's a good example of a database that contains a combination of citations and linked full text. 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

Using MH Links to request materials

Most of the library's databases use a tool called "MH Links Options to get item." You'll frequently notice a link or button by this name next to your search results. If you get a result that has no linked full text, clicking on MH Links can take you to an option for requesting that an electronic copy of the item be sent to you.  Note: during the pandemic MH Links will work best for requesting articles. Usually you can use it to request entire print books as well, even if they're not held in the Five College Libraries. However, that's currently not an option while everyone is working from off campus and many library buildings are closed to the public.

Here's an example of a result found by searching the MLA International Bibliography database that has no linked full text:

MLA International Bibliography database search result with no linked full text, but showing MH Links button.

Clicking on "MH Links Options to get item" opens an MH Links window. It shows that here is "No online option," so the next step is to go to the "Not available electronically?" section of the window and click on "Request from another library via Illiad" link:

MH Links page with "Not available electronically? Request from another library via Illiad" option circled.

Illiad is the Mount Holyoke library's interlibrary loan system. Clicking on the link will take you to a login screen. User your MHC username and password, then follow the onscreen instructions to make your request.  You will be notified by email when a PDF of the article or chapter you requested is ready. The email will include a link to log back into Illiad so you can download the PDF from there.

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:

MHC Accessibility Barriers Form