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Library Resources and Services for New Students

The purpose of this guide is to introduce new students to key resources and services at the Kennedy Library.

Getting Started at Kennedy Library

Welcome!  We have a variety of library services, resources, and technology to support your research and academic needs. For library hours and any recent updates, visit Kennedy Library Updates and Resources. For Cal Poly updates regarding COVID-19, visit Cal Poly's COVID-19 webpage.

Do you want to take a self-paced and interactive virtual tour of Kennedy Library? Check out the library's!

Image via Kennedy Library Flickr

  Get Online Help 24/7

You can get live help from real people at any time of the day, any day of the week, on or off-campus. Use 24/7 Live Chat Help for research help or general inquiries about the library.

Visit 24/7 Live Chat Help

  Find Librarians and Specialists

Kennedy Library has an expert team of college librarians and specialists who provide meaningful tailored support to students and faculty. Contact your college librarian or a specialist if you want to get an early start on using library resources effectively! 

"15 minutes with your College Librarian will save you hours!"

Find Librarians and Specialists

   Access Library Resources From Home or Anywhere

Cal Poly students, faculty and staff can easily access our databases and other electronic resources from off-campus. Sign in to My Account using your Cal Poly User ID and password (the same ID and password you use to log into portal.)

For more information, see Off-Campus Access.

Students in need of technology may visit the ITS Tech Rentals page or call 805-756-7000.
Need assistance with technology? Contact the ITS Service Desk at 805-756-7000.

Off-Campus Access   Contact ITS

  Course Reserves

You might find a free electronic version of your textbook through our library's Course Reserves. You can search by course number (ie COMS 101) or instructor name

Search Course Reserves

Research Tools, Tutorials, and Resources

Kennedy Library provides remote access to a variety of digital resources. Use OneSearch, a Google-like single search, to search most of the resources in the Kennedy Library's catalog, databases, other CSU libraries, and even other libraries. You can find journal articles, books, e-books, newspapers, streaming audio or video, and other online resources in the OneSearch. The easiest way to find and search in OneSearch is to go to the library's homepage, locate the OneSearch bar, and use keywords and filters. For a specific item search, you can use the advanced search option to find resources by author name, title, language, and more. 

For more information on using Onesearch, visit Using OneSearch.


  • Always sign-in to get full-text access to subscribed resources and to see request options for items not immediately available.   You can sign in on "My Account" before searching, although OneSearch will prompt you to sign in when you are on a result screen.   Another way to sign-in is to log into your mycalpoly portal and select the Library tab in the top navigation bar, but you may again need to sign into OneSearch. 

Librarians and specialists have created subject, course, and topic guides to help you navigate through the research process. In these guides, you may find recommended resources and materials, search strategy tips and tricks, and more. 

Visit the Research Guides page.


  • Research Guides can be searched by subject, type, or owner. 
  • On the righthand-side of the Research Guides page is a list of Special Topics Guides.  

Library Databases and Google Scholar

Cal Poly Students have access to over 200 databases containing full-text articles, e-books, videos, and more! There are a few ways to find the best databases for your research. You can browse the entire list of databases, (1) use the drop-down "Browse by Subject" option, or (2) search for databases using keyword(s) e.g., agriculture (see screenshot below).

This is a screenshot of the library's list of databases with arrows pointing to the browse by subject drop-down list and search for database function both located at the top of the page.


Google Scholar is a great tool for finding scholarly literature. Visit Google Scholar Search Tips for more information on how to avoid paywalls by linking your Google account to library resources. 

Kennedy Library provides access to more than 600,000 e-books in all disciplines. All are discoverable in OneSearch. Use the E-Books Guide to help you find and access books in OneSearch. There is also the option to find e-books in multi-disciplinary or discipline-specific databases. However, just like when you start your search for other types of resources, like articles, it is recommended to start broadly using OneSearch and then, if needed, explore specific databases. 


  • In addition to library Course Reserves, you can sometimes find electronic copies of your course textbooks that haven't been put on the reserves list. Try searching in OneSearch with the textbook's title and authors and filter by "Available Online at Cal Poly". Another option: try searching in the database Ebook Central which offers access to nearly 200.000 titles across academic and professional subject areas.

Kennedy Library has self-guided online tutorials, videos, and resources that provide instruction on library research strategies and tools. On the Research 101 guide, you can learn how to find articles and books in OneSearch, distinguish between types of information sources, evaluate sources for relevance and credibility, cite sources, and more!  

Research 101 Tutorials and Videos 

Do you need to create data visualizations for your research assignments? Visit the Introduction to Data Visualization guide for a tutorial on Finding Data and data visualization resources.

Intro to Data Visualization Guide

Pictured are selections from Fall 2019's Eye Candy and Mixed Nuts, presented by the Special Collections and Archives.

Pictured are selections from Fall 2019's Eye Candy and Mixed Nuts, presented by the Special Collections and Archives.

Special Collections and Archives (SCA) acquires, organizes, describes, preserves, interprets, and provides access to primary research materials in their original formats to support discovery, education, and research at all levels and across disciplines. Visit the Special Collections and Archives Guide to learn more about digitized primary sources and collections available through SCA's online collections. When the library building opens, you can visit SCA on the 4th floor of the library in room 409.

picture of the data and gis desk on the first floor of kennedy library

The Data, GIS, and Digital Projects Lab at Kennedy Library provides support to students working with data at all skill levels and across disciplines. Get help finding datasets, applying software tools for exploration and analysis, and communicating effectively through data visualization.

Visit the Digital Projects Lab Guide for resources and/or to get help with data, GIS, and statistics projects. When the library building opens, you can meet with Data & GIS Specialist, Russ White, or with Peer Assistants on the first floor of the library in Hub 24 at the Data & GIS desk. 

pictured is the interactive exhibit on the first floor community gallery of Kennedy Library

Pictured is the interactive exhibit on the first floor community gallery of Kennedy Library on Monday, September 24, 2018. The exhibit locates visitors in yatspu (the land) and yaktʔɨnɨsmuʔ (the language) of yak tityu tityu yak tiłhini, Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region which Cal Poly is naming their new dormatories after. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA. Photo: Hannah Travis

Linking four programs—art management, the faculty exhibit program, Digital Publishing Pilot, and library community galleries—the Creative Works program at Kennedy Library supports curiosity-based scholarship, creativity, and research at Cal Poly.

The program provides experiential learning opportunities with the university art collection (including an internship program, access to the collection through an online catalog, and course integration); collaborative faculty-driven exhibits; and adaptable gallery spaces for students and faculty to showcase their scholarly and creative work in a variety of ways. The program includes a publishing component through the production of visually rich digital exhibit catalogs.

Visit Creative Works to learn more.

   Don't See Online Access or Full Text?  Interlibrary loan options may be available

When you are signed into OneSearch your request options will appear.  These may include physical books/media, digital articles, digital book chapters, and more. If no request option appears you may always fill out a request for Interlibrary Loan.

If you are searching in Databases, look for the "Get It" button, that will drop you into OneSearch and request options for an item.

You can view and track all your requests from “My Account

Submit a request online:

Interlibrary Loan 

Questions?  You can email:

Guide Creation and Maintenance

This guide was created by Mercedes Rutherford-Patten in Fall 2020 and is maintained and updated by her.