ISU e-Library

One of the great advantages to being a student at Iowa State is that you have access to a world-class research library, and this is true even at a distance. This is made possible through the e-Library services.

The e-Library is the online portal to everything the ISU library has to offer. You can utilize the library collections in several ways, including viewing materials online, or having hard copies of materials delivered to you. Either way, you will start with the library's homepage.

Why Use the e-Library?

Many aspects of the library are freely available for anyone to use (in fact, the library has a page specifically for alumni and community researchers). However, there are some items (usually databases) that are restricted to current faculty/staff/students. Using the e-Library can help make sure you have access to everything you need. In addition, finding resources through the e-Library site (as opposed to simply Google-searching them) can speed up your access. For example, if you find an article on Google Scholar or ACSESS Digital Library, going through the ISU e-Library enables you to more easily connect to the full-text version of publications through your affiliation with Iowa State.

Anytime you see the "Get It at ISU" button (below), click it to help get the electronic full-text, or see if the paper version of the journal is in the library.

Off-Campus Access

In order to access library resources off-campus, you have to log in to an ISU server. The best place to start for all the details is the Distance Learning Library Support page, which gives you details on setting up your account and troubleshooting any connection errors. The link to this page can be found on the e-Library homepage as well, in the "Library Instruction" section.

To use the e-Library, simply enter a phrase in the "Quick Search" bar at the top of the website.

Next, click the link for the item you wish to view.

Then, select the article source you would like to use.

Finally, login using the password you have created specifically for use in the e-library. If you have not already created this password, you may do so at this time. You will use this password for everything in the library except Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery (which uses NetID and email password).

Once you have logged in, as long as you keep that browser window open, you can continue to reach library resources without re-logging in.

The library has a troubleshooting page if you run into problems logging in. For other connecting issues, it's best to contact the library directly (515-294-1564).

If you aren't automatically prompted by the e-Library proxy server login page, check to make sure you aren't using a VPN connection to campus already. If you are connecting using VPN, that sets up its own connection that by-passes the library's proxy server and won't allow you library access. Turning VPN off should allow you to be prompted.

Remember, some databases are restricted to on-campus use only.

Note: Even when you are logged in, there will still be times when you may try to access a journal article and be prompted to login. In these cases, your ISU ID and library password will not work and the site will tell you that you need to pay to access the article. You should NOT pay for it. Usually this happens when a journal article is too old to be part of the online subscription (it varies for each journal, but tends to occur mainly for journal articles that were published pre-1997). If this happens to you, contact a librarian for assistance.

Searching the library

As masters students, you will most often be searching for journal articles and publications, and for these types of resources, it is best to start with one of the main agriculture databases.


  • ACSESS Digital Library – full text – All content published by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. This will likely be THE best database for Agronomy graduate students.
  • ASABE Technical Library – full-text - All recent publications from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Journals from 1998 forward and all other ASABE technical publications from 2001 to current.
  • CAB Abstracts – This is one of the best databases to use to find agriculture-related literature for international as well as U.S. focused publications.

To find additional agriculture-related databases, you can go to the Article Indexes & Databases page (located BELOW the Quick Search box on the library homepage). This will allow you to browse library-provided databases by subject.

For general searching or to find a book, you can begin on the library's homepage, with the Quick Search bar.

For help in formulating your search terms, try the library's Quick Search Information page. You can narrow your search by item type (books, journals, articles, maps, etc.) or search by keyword, exact phrase, author, title, etc.

Sometimes, a firewall or virus-checking software will block the Quick Search bar from appearing on an off-campus computer. If you don't see the Quick Search box on the home page, you may need to make sure your firewall or virus-checking software is allowing access on ports 1701 and 8991. You can call the Solution Center (515 294-4000) for help.

Help with Searches

The library has a very useful how to/help page with details on how to find various specific items using the online search tools, including articles, dissertations and theses, government documents, journals, or books.

The library also hosts a live chat feature, called "Ask Us!" During set hours, you can chat your question to a librarian and they can help you find what you are looking for. This is available on any library page. You can also call the library directly.

Subject Guides

Finally, the library has compiled subject guides to help with specific areas of interest.

You can begin with the main hub for all subject guides and select "Agriculture and Plants" from the left-hand column, or you can use the drop-down menu to simply select one of the Agronomy-specifc guides. These guides contain links and information that are used often by other agronomy professionals and scholars, and includes sub-categories such as Crops, Soils, Weeds, Dissertations, or information on citing sources.

When you visit the subject guides for agronomy, you will see contact information for the Agronomy subject librarian, Anita Bobb. Anita is the librarian dedicated to agronomy issues, and you can use her expertise to assist you with your research. She encourages students to contact her by email or phone with research advice or help resolving any problems they might be encountering with off-campus access. The Ask Us! box does not connect directly to Anita, but you can reach her directly at or by phone at (515) 294-6943.

Accessing Physical Materials through Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services

If the ISU library doesn't have something you need, you can request that item from another library in the system through Interlibrary Loan.

You can also request to have materials that aren't available in digital form sent to you in the mail through the Document Delivery Service. This can include a range of materials including books, or photocopies. If possible, items will be scanned and sent to you via email as a PDF. If this isn't possible, the physical item can be mailed to you, typically sent within 24 hours. Generally, these services are provided for free, though sometimes a fee is necessary. For more details, including any minor copying or shipping fees, visit the their page for Document Delivery Services (DDS) page.

Interlibrary Loan-Borrowing and Document Delivery Service requests can be submitted via a single web form. For more information on Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services, or to ask questions, go to the Services and contact information page.


Technical Support Staff