Crash Course in Using the George A. Smathers Libraries

6 Using Online Library Resources

The Libraries offer UF students many amazing options for research, including online resources. Explore the digital research materials, connect with librarians who can help, and discover the online world of the George A. Smathers Libraries from the comfort of your home.

Getting Connected

First things first — to access the virtual library resources, you need to be on UF’s network. If you’re connected to campus wifi or working on a UF library computer, you should automatically have access to all virtual library resources.

For those working off campus, the GatorLink VPN is required for virtual library access. The VPN initially needs to be downloaded and installed on your device, but after that, you will only need to launch the Cisco AnyConnect program and log in with your GatorLink account each time you connect.


(Video above was created by the Libraries Information Literacy Committee. To see more, check out the Libraries Tutorials page.)


If you don’t want to download the VPN and only need to do a quick search, you may want to use the UF proxy server instead. There’s nothing to download with the proxy server: just log in with your GatorLink username and password.

For either option, the Off-Campus Access page below will help you get started.


Off-Campus access

Quick Tip: The UF proxy server is great for fast searches, but stick with the VPN if you need to do lengthy research.

Virtual Research

UF has access to over a thousand databases, so there are plenty of options to help you find sources and materials for research. A database is a searchable collection of academic and informational material. Searching within UF’s “A-Z List of Databases” may help you find one that is tailored toward your specific research needs.

However, if you’re unsure where to begin, using the Primo search tool is the best way to kickstart your research. Searching keywords related to your research topic will help you find journal articles, eBooks, streaming video, and other resources.


(Video above was created by the Libraries Information Literacy Committee. To see more, check out the Libraries Tutorials page.)
Access the Primo Search Tool now and start searching!

Additionally, being connected to UF’s network (through wifi, VPN, or proxy server) grants you access to many articles on Google Scholar that would otherwise require a fee.

Quick Tip: Never pay for a journal article if you see a page asking you to buy it! The Libraries will help you get that article for free.


Two individuals sitting at the computers in Marston Science Library
Two individuals sitting at the computers in Marston Science Library.

Digital Collections

If you are interested in finding primary sources online, check out UF’s digital collections. Manuscripts, archives, books, maps, newspapers, photographs, and more are available to UF students, with over seventy-eight thousand subjects covered. Finding aids can help you browse through these digital collections and archives to find exactly what you’re looking for. The Digital Collections and Finding Aids pages are available online to use anytime.

Need More Help?

The Library Research Basics Guide was created to help students start doing research. Check it out to find information on how to search for books, journal articles, and more!


Screenshot of a website called "Library Research Basics" featuring a photo of student studying
The Library Research Basics guide was created by Lisa Campbell, the Instruction and Outreach Librarian. Click this photo to go to the guide. (Screenshot captured in July 2022.)

If your research is still stumping you, try referring to the research guides created by UF librarians. These research guides are available online and organized by subject to help you find resources for your specific area of study!

Don’t forget — there are also subject librarians who all specialize in different fields of study, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is a subject specialist for every major here on campus — more information is in the Get to Know the Library Experts chapter of this guide.


Quick Tip: You can also make use of the Libraries’ Ask A Librarian service, where you can call, text, chat, or email a library expert for any library- or research-related questions. Ask A Librarian is staffed by real library workers, not a bot, who will work with you!




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Undergraduate Guide to the George A. Smathers Libraries Copyright © 2022 by Nabil M. Chowdhury; Ava K. Kaplan; Cassidy Smith; Omolola Suleiman; Alexandrea Glenn; and Michelle M. Nolan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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