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Policy 51: Library Services for Distance Learning Students

University of Missouri Libraries

General Policy Manual Policy No. 51

Library Services for Distance Learning Students

  • Scope of Policy
    • Distance Learning Library Services are services provided to any MU students (as defined below) who do not attend classes at the main campus of the University of Missouri. These services include: access to electronic resources; reference services; library instruction; borrowing privileges; document delivery; course reserve services; and, access to library equipment and facilities. Not all services are available to students residing outside of the United States. The distance learner who does not have ready access to his or her home institution will seek out these resources at libraries or campus facilities near his or her home.
  • Purpose
    • The purpose of the Libraries Distance Learning support program is to meet the information needs of distance learning students.
  • Definitions
    • Distance Learning courses are defined as courses in which students of the University of Missouri are enrolled and which are not taken on-site in classrooms at the University of Missouri. Courses may be taken via satellite, on the World Wide Web, mixed media, or by independent study course packet.
    • Distance Learning users are students, faculty, etc., who do not reside on/near, attend classes, or teach at the institution’s main campus. They can be at satellite branches, home, organizations, or other sites outside the mid-Missouri area (defined as Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, Randolph counties) or outside the United States.
  • Access Services
    • Library Services will be provided to Distance Learning students as outlined below. All students are eligible to use the MU Libraries and all of the available in-house resources as well.
    • Library Materials
      • Monographs
        • Distance Learning students may request circulating print monographs held by any of the UM Libraries and Saint Louis University. Those monographs may be picked up at the closest UM/SLU campus library or if the student prefers, mailed to the student’s home providing that the student does not live in the mid-Missouri area (defined as Boone and contiguous counties) or outside the United States.
        • Requesting Monographs thorugh Patron Initiated Services - Distance Learning students may request items in the MERLIN Library Catalog using the “G” Request-an-Item function. They must put a note in the request asking that the item be mailed to their homes if they want that service. Notes may be placed in the request only by using the TELNET version.
      • Journal Articles
        • Distance Learning students may request and purchase copies of articles in journals owned by MU by following the links on the MU Libraries’ Distance Learning web page to the online request forms of the MU Libraries Copy Service or the Health Sciences Library as appropriate and in accordance with license agreements.
      • Items not held by the UM/SLU Libraries
        • The MU Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan department will request items for patrons when the MERLIN Libraries do not own them. Journal articles will be mailed to the user. Monographs and other returnables will not be mailed and must be picked up in person at the MU Ellis Circulation Desk.
        • Distance Learning students may renew the books that they have checked out twice before the books must be returned to a UM Library and discharged. All books are subject to recall.
  • Information Services
    • Reference Assistance Distance Learning students may use the online form or send email to the Ellis Reference Department ( They may also contact a liaison librarian directly. Distance Learning liaisons are listed on the MU Libraries’ Distance Learning web page:
    • Using the MERLIN Catalog Distance Learning students may access the MERLIN Library Catalog by using either the TELNET version (telnet:// or the Web ( to find out what library materials are owned by the MERLIN Libraries.
    • MERLIN Gateway - The MERLIN gateway provides access to electronic resources including the library catalog, electronic journals, encyclopedias and databases. The databases provide references, summaries, and occasionally, full text, to journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, dissertations and more. Distance Learning students can directly connect to electronic resources through the MERLIN Gateway in accordance with license agreements and technological compatibilities. Databases, including Ovid and Expanded Academic/Infotrac, are available to students via TELNET through the MU Telecommunications server using their email ID. FirstSearch is available through a special password. Most currently-enrolled students have an email ID on the Showme computer system. Descriptions of databases accessible through the Libraries can be found at the Health Sciences Library home page. For information about obtaining passwords for remote users to Ovid, Expanded Academic/Infotrac and FirstSearch databases and other access information, students are directed to the MU Libraries’ Distance Learning web page listed in above.

Sponsored by the Interlibrary Loan Policy Review Committee: February 24, 1998
Submitted to Library Council: May 20, 1998
Approved by Library Council: September 17, 1998
Approved by Director of Libraries: September 17, 1998