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Why Everything Isn't Available Online and Free

One of the key things to know is that, particularly with scholarly material, not everything is online yet. What is often isn't free.

If you’ve ever found the perfect article for your paper, looked for it in an online database, and then found that the library doesn’t have it or that it’s only available in print, then you know that not everything is available online. If you’ve ever searched Google, Google Scholar, or Yahoo, come across an article, and been asked to pay for it, you know that not everything online is free. If you’ve ever searched a database and found articles you never saw when you searched elsewhere, you know that articles can be online in one place but not in another. The move from print to the digital world is a complex one, and librarians can help you figure out how to get what you need. Interlibrary loan and other borrowing services can get you almost anything from anywhere without charge, and the library is involved in a number of initiatives to make more articles and research available to you online for free.

Also, making the full body of scholarly research available, in particular that found in print books, has taken considerably longer than originally anticipated due to costs and copyright issues. Cornell University Library and several other libraries, in partnership with Google (and other groups), are enabling the scanning of thousands of scholarly books that were previously only available in print. Currently, in Google Book Search, there are hundreds of public-domain books (published before 1923) that are fully viewable online, and thousands more you can either see brief snippets of or citations from.