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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

The Kennedy Library is here to support you. As a student, you have virtual access to many library resources from anywhere. At this time, most of the library building is closed until further notice. The library's first floor Hub24 Study Space is now open 24/7 as of June 21, 2021. For library-related COVID-19 updates, visit the Kennedy Library COVID-19 Updates and Resources Guide.

For information and updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on Cal Poly, visit Cal Poly's COVID-19 webpage.

  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 Online

In order to sign-in and access full-text resources in OneSearch, you must activate your library card by getting a Cal Poly ID card (instructions on getting a Cal Poly ID card). It will take 24 hours from the time your Cal Poly ID card is issued to be added to the library system. While you wait to get sign-in access in OneSearch, you can still sign-in and access resources directly from one of the library databases.

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.

Tech checkout in Hub24 is closed for the fall quarter. Students in need of technology should go to 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

Do you need specialized academic software previously only available in on-campus labs? For more information, visit the Virtual Computer Lab

Visit the Virtual Computer Lab

  Course Reserves

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

Search Course Reserves

   Checking Out Library Materials

Contactless Checkout and Pickup/Delivery

Kennedy Library and CSU+ are now loaning books and other physical materials (excluding Course Reserves) on a limited basis.

In-Person Pickup:

Available on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

  1. Request books on OneSearch using your Cal Poly account:  
  2. Receive an email that your items are ready to be picked up. 
  3. Bring your Cal Poly ID/Library Card to the Kennedy Library front entrance on the days/hours listed above. 
  4. Call Library Circulation at 805-756-5760 to notify us of your arrival and to provide your library card information. 
  5. Staff will place your items outside the door. 

Off-Campus Delivery:

  1. Request materials on OneSearch using your Cal Poly account:
  2. Select the delivery option and enter a shipping address. Address must be street address in continental US or Alaska. Allow 4-6 weeks for processing and delivery.
  3. Receive an email that your items have been shipped via UPS. 
  4. Return materials to CSU campus bookdrops or ship using the prepaid UPS return label provided.

Please contact Access Services at with questions.

Books and other physical materials checked out to you will be renewed automatically. There will be no late fees or fines for any overdue items at this time. You may return books and other physical materials (including CSU+ and Interlibrary Loan) to the book drops located in front of the library or in parking lot H10.

  • Please contact Access Services at with any questions about your checked out items.
  • Please contact Interlibrary Services at with any questions about CSU+ or Interlibrary Loan.

To review your checked out library materials:

Log In to your Library Account

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, and other CSU libraries. You can find journal articles, books, e-books, newspapers, streaming audio or video, and other online resources in the OneSearch catalog. 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 the OneSearch FAQ.


  • Always sign-in to get full-text access to subscribed resources. In OneSearch, you will be prompted to sign-in by a yellow bar at the top of the OneSearch results screen. Another way to sign-in is to log into your mycalpoly portal and select the Library tab in the top navigation bar. 

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. 

Visit the COVID-19 Limited-Time Access Resource List for resources provided temporarily for free in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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

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.

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. 

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? Try Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

To get full access to all your options when using OneSearch or databases, be sure to log in using your Cal Poly e-mail and password. When you find an item listed that does not have a full text option, click on Get It at Cal Poly. This will lead you to the item's OneSearch record. From there, locate the section "Additional Services" and select either "Request from CSU Libraries: CSU+" or "Request through Interlibrary Loan". For Interlibrary Loan, submit the pre-filled form and it will be processed by the library's Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department. Items usually arrive in 3-5 business days. You may also fill out an item request form at ILL found in the link below to request materials.

Watch this video for information on accessing full (article) texts and requesting items through Interlibrary Loan Find the Full Text (video).

Submit a request online:

Interlibrary Loan 

Or you may contact ILL staff at with any questions or concerns.