The Fundamentals

  • Always start from the Health Sciences Library (HSL) website to ensure access to university-subscribed resources.
  • Use the Columbia e-Link e-Link icon to access full text of journal articles.
  • If the library lacks access to a needed book or article, request it from a peer library via Borrow Direct (books only) or Interlibrary Loan.
  • If you still cannot find or get access to what you need, please ask.

COVID-19 Note

Because of Covid-19, some print resources may not be available. The library will provide scans of individual chapters or articles upon request, if possible. Use the “Scan” link in CLIO, the library catalog, or use the Ask a Question form to request scans.


Journal Articles

The libraries at Columbia University subscribe to thousands of current journals. The vast majority of current content is in electronic format, available anywhere through a web browser. However, older content may only be available in print format.

Finding Journal Articles

Use one of the library’s databases of scholarly literature to find journal articles on a topic or a journal article where the citation is known. PubMed (tutorials) is a good starting point for biomedical articles. Web of Science (tutorials) is a good starting point for searches in the sciences and social sciences.

For additional database options, see the "Related Content" links on this page, or use the Explore Resources page.

Accessing Journal Articles

When using a scholarly database, look for the Columbia e-Link icon e-Link icon to provide direct access to electronic versions of journal articles. In many cases, the e-Link page will have a series of "Get Article" links that will bring the user to full text.

If there are no "Get Article" links, or if these links fail to work, try searching CLIO, the library catalog. Print journals will only appear in CLIO. The e-Link page provides easy access to CLIO under the heading "Search Columbia University Libraries for this item."

Most print journals are kept at ReCAP, Columbia's offsite shelving facility. In CLIO, these titles will show a location of “Offsite.” To request these items, click on the title to go to the detail page, and then use the “Offsite” link on the right side of the page. ReCAP can provide scans of individual articles or can deliver print volumes to the Health Sciences Library within 2 business days.

If the journal is not in CLIO, HSL can request the article from a partner library through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). ILL requests for journal articles are typically filled within three business days. The easiest way to start an ILL request is to use the "Interlibrary Loan" link on the e-Link page (located under the heading "Request item from another library"). This link will auto-populate citation information in the ILL form.

Books and Databases

HSL and Columbia University Libraries provide access to hundreds of current biomedical and scientific books, databases, and other tools in electronic format. In addition, HSL has a small collection of current print books, and tens of thousands of older print books at ReCAP, the library's offsite shelving facility.

Finding Books and Databases

Start by searching the HSL website for the title or subject desired. This website includes links to many top biomedical journals and electronic books. Or, browse for books using the Explore Resources page.

If the desired resource is not found on the library website, try CLIO, the library catalog. CLIO includes print and electronic books and journals, databases, and other tools provided by all libraries at Columbia University. In addition, CLIO lists items requestable from the offsite shelving facility, ReCAP, owned by Princeton University, New York Public Library, and Harvard University.

Accessing Books

Electronic Books

The HSL website and CLIO, the library catalog, include links to the electronic resources they list. These links will work whether the user is on campus or off campus. Off campus access is authenticated through UNI and password.

Book chapters are also indexed in search databases, like Pubmed or Web of Science. In these tools, use the Columbia e-Link to access electronic resources. This will direct the user to electronic access, if available, and provides easy access to search CLIO for print and to request items via interlibrary loan.

If the website, CLIO, or the e-Link indicate that the library has access to electronic full text, but the content cannot be accessed, please use the "Report an E-Resource Problem" link on the e-Link page or the Ask a Question form on the HSL website.

Print Books at the Health Sciences Library

Note: 24-hour access and self-service are on pause due to COVID-19. Please refer to this page for current service offerings.

Members of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) community may access the Health Sciences Library 24-hours a day with their CUIMC ID. The library has a self-checkout kiosk to allow users to borrow books any time of day or night.

Print Books at Other Columbia Libraries

Note: Because of COVID-19, intercampus delivery service is on pause. Book pick-up is limited to owning locations. Alternatively, scanning service is available on a limited basis for some library locations.

Use the intercampus delivery service to request delivery of a book from other Columbia University Libraries for pickup at the Health Sciences Library. Delivery is typically within 2 business days.

Use the “Scan and Deliver” service to request scans of single chapters from items located at other Columbia University libraries.

Print Books Offsite, at ReCAP

When items in CLIO search results show a location of “Offsite,” these items are shelved at ReCAP, the library's offsite shelving facility. To request these items, click on the title to go to the detail page, and then use the “Offsite” link on the right side of the page.

ReCAP can provide scans of individual chapters or articles, or can deliver items to the Health Sciences Library within 2 business days.

Books Not Available at Columbia

If a desired book is not available at any of the university’s libraries, HSL will try to get it from one of our peer libraries.

  1. Search the Borrow Direct catalog. Borrow Direct partner libraries promise quick shipping of print items and extended loan periods.
  2. Request via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Libraries worldwide participate in interlibrary loan, but it may take two to four weeks to get requested items.
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