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View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

Distance Learning Services & Resources: Overview & Guidelines


At Georgetown University Library, we understand that the distance learning community may need to access library services and collections in a different manner than traditional on-site users. This guide outlines the services the Library provides to distance users affiliated with credit-bearing academic programs. This guide provides information on library services and resources that can be utilized by Georgetown University faculty members and instructional designers in their BlackBoard or Canvas LMS courses. Please note that processes may differ for BlackBoard and Canvas users. 

Questions or Comments? Please email 


Research Assistance Services

Research Consultations & Ready Reference

Library reference staff are available to assist students and faculty via email, telephone, and synchronous virtual research consultations.*

For in-depth assistance, distance students and faculty are encouraged to make a virtual appointment (research consultation) to discuss a research topic, develop a search strategy or examine resources relevant to a University-assigned paper or project. *

Distance users with “quick” or ready reference questions may contact the Library via telephone, chat, or email services. 

Instruction Services

From term paper to thesis, the Library Research Instruction Program helps connect student and faculty researchers with the information they need. Faculty may schedule in-depth instruction to introduce students to the many research databases, specialized sources and techniques for making research more effective and efficient.

What we teach:

  • Advanced search strategies and techniques to identify relevant research material.
  • How to assess sources for currency, relevancy, authority and scholarly value.
  • How to assess the reliability and appropriateness of information found on the Web.
  • How to use RefWorks to manage citations and bibliographies.
  • How to identify specialized materials such as primary sources, government documents, statistics, multimedia and archival sources.

Library reference staff offer synchronous or asynchronous instruction sessions.  To schedule an instruction session, we require the following: 1) an appropriate amount of lead time; 2) permissions to the course CMS (BlackBoard or Canvas); and 3) course learning objectives including description(s) of assignments requiring primary and secondary research.

Library Collections & Access Services

The University Library strives to provide all users with equal access to information to meet their learning, research, and scholarship needs, however distance users may experience various limitations in accessing Library collections. To mitigate these limitations librarians supporting academic departments that offer online programs and courses will: 1) make every effort to acquire and develop “electronic” collections in respective subject areas and 2) assist distance users in identifying alternatives, such as directing them to local public and academic libraries. Furthermore, academic programs, faculty, and distance users may submit purchase requests for electronic content; however, these requests are subject to item availability and budgetary constraints. 

eResources, including Databases, eBooks, Streaming Media, etc.**

Most library research databases, which provide access to eResources including books, periodicals, media, etc. are available remotely. To access these resources, actively registered users are required to login with their netID and passwords. There are a few databases that require special login or are not available remotely. These exceptions are noted on the A to Z Database list.

Physical Collections

Users’ borrowing privileges for both Georgetown and WRLC physical collections are outlined on the GUL Borrowing Policies webpage.  However, the Library does not mail physical Georgetown, WRLC, or interlibrary loan items (i.e. books, DVDs, etc.) to distance users. Users interested in obtaining physical library items are responsible for picking up and returning items to one of the WRLC libraries within the designated loan period.


The Library supports classroom instruction and the University's academic mission by providing students access to required course-related materials through the Course Reserve system. For the distance learning community, the Library makes eReserves available under the provisions of §107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (fair use). Materials are placed on eReserve for instructors and students registered for the course. A current Georgetown University netID and password are required to access Blackboard or Canvas and the Course Reserve page on Library's website.

The Library reserves the right to refuse materials for course reserve if, in our judgment, the request would exceed fair use or otherwise constitute copyright infringement. In such cases, we will contact the faculty member to determine how to best fulfill your request, including: 1) exploring other options or formats for making the requested material available, or 2) obtaining permission for use of the work if available at a reasonable cost.

Interlibrary Loans

Distance users have limited access to non-Georgetown University Library content through the Library’s Consortium Loan Services and ILLiad (interlibrary loan) portals. While the University Library does not mail physical WRLC or interlibrary loan items (i.e. books, DVDs, etc.), distance users may request periodical articles, book chapters, and other content that can be digitized and made available under Fair Use guidelines.

Copyright Services

Copyright assistance is available for faculty and instructional support staff by phone or email.* Library staff will assist with evaluating the copyright status of a work, finding alternative readings, and/ or providing guidance in how to request permission. Library staff cannot provide legal advice or make fair use decisions for faculty.

Online course content often raises copyright issues that are not present in traditional classroom settings, so when selecting course materials, the following types of works are recommended:

  • GUL eResources
  • Limited portions of a copyrighted work (fair use)
  • Links (not downloads) to materials available online
  • Open access works
  • Public domain works (includes work of the United States government)

* Research Assistance and Copyright & Fair Use Services staff are available during regular Monday through Friday business hours (EST).

**University Library eResources are licensed for scholarly, research, or educational purposes, and not intended for commercial use.

Contact Us

Access Services Department (including Reserves) 
202-687-7607 |

School of Continuing Studies Library 
202-784-7389 |

Collections, Research, & Instruction Department
202-687-7452 |

Copyright & Scholarly Communication 
202-687-0302 |

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