How to access library material from abroad?
July 19, 2005 1:08 PM   Subscribe

A two-part question on accessing scholarly library materials from abroad.

I have a friend in a third-world country who is doing research for his masters thesis. Much of the material he needs is not available in his country or on the internet, but he has been able to find citations and references. He cannot afford to travel abroad to visit foreign libraries, and he wants to finish his thesis soon so he can work full-time.

I have been helping him by going to libraries here in the States, photocopying what he needs, scanning, and e-mailing him links to jpegs.

My questions:
1. Is there any service or organization that could help researchers abroad who need material in bricks-and-mortar libraries but cannot afford to travel to them? I understand librarians can be quite helpful, but I think it's a bit much to expect them to scan 200+ pages at a go for someone they've never met.

2. Any on-line databases for language research I don't already know about? Full-text preferred. So far I have found CSA, but it cites many obscure journals not found at the New York Public Library, nor are they online.

(FYI, he is getting his master's in interpreting, and his thesis has to do with interpreting conjunctions between Arabic and English, or something like that, this isn't really my field.)
posted by Brian James to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps your friend should convince his library to participate in something called the Interlibrary Loan program. My old roomie works for them at my university and many grad students borrow from libraries across the nation and worldwide. There are three different types of agreements that libraries can establish in their network; 1) free unlimited borrowing between "sister" libraries 2) a credit/debit type account for shipping/handling between them that is paid at the end of the fiscal year 3) up front payment of s/h between libraries that don't usually exchange books.

It would take a bit of time and research for your friend to persuade his own library that it is a good idea, but in the long run it would benefit many students. You can google interlibrary loan or interlibrary services that should give you a good starting point.
posted by idiotfactory at 2:12 PM on July 19, 2005

Is your friend registered at a university with a good library? Many university libraries have off-campus access (the wonders of proxy servers!) to their library's commercial databases and all of the sweet, sweet scholarly papers contained within.

If your friend's university does not offer this, perhaps his advisor knows a librarian somewhere that can setup access?
posted by stet at 2:39 PM on July 19, 2005

Response by poster: Well, here's the rub. This guy is in Iraq. He is studying at the University of Mosul. No joke.

I will look into the option of getting him access to databases via a proxy. Perhaps I can find a sympathetic professor somewhere here in the states. Any language/linguistics professors reading?
posted by Brian James at 4:56 PM on July 19, 2005

I work at a library, although low on the totem pole and probably not able to get anyone off-campus access to our online databases. Even our own off-campus students don't have access to some of them and it's a serious hassle to get around the way our subscriptions work (I think it's IP based not password based).

Also, my wife works for the Linguist List. Neither of us have faculty status and I can't promise much, but I can look into possibilities. Shoot me an email if you like via my profile, and I'll see if I can't find anything out in the next couple days.
posted by p3t3 at 6:29 PM on July 19, 2005

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