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Syracuse University Libraries

Resources for Online & Distance Students: Home

Learn how to access SU Libraries resources, services, and support when you're away from campus and make the most of your online learning

Welcome, SU online and distance students!

You are not alone! Each year, more than 6.3 million U.S. college students take at least one online class—that amounts to 31.6% of all college students nationwide. In fact, distance education enrollment has increased for the fourteenth straight year, meaning that more and more students are taking advantage of the flexibility and opportunities that online and distance education can offer. Here at Syracuse University, the numbers of courses, programs, and degrees offered online is also on the rise. 

Taking online classes is not without its challenges. Distance students, for example, are often unable to visit Bird Library in person to check out needed resources. This guide, then, gathers a wide variety of resources that might be helpful for Syracuse University online and distance students, particularly with accessing library resources, services, and support. Additionally, because online learning sometimes requires different learning strategies compared to in-person learning, this guide also offers some tips and strategies for making the most out of your online and distance learning experiences. In addition to this research guide, librarians at Syracuse University Libraries have also created additional guides for specific groups of students who might also be studying online or at a distance:

If you have any questions related to accessing resources and services at Syracuse University Libraries, please visit the Finding Help tab of this guide. 

Library Rights for Online & Distance Students

In 2008 the Association of College & Research Libraries adopted a set of standards designed to help academic libraries to better support online and distance students. The Standards for Distance Learning Library Services are a response to several critical factors, including:

  • the rapid growth of higher education learning opportunities that take place outside the traditional classroom;
  • greater recognition of the need for library resources and services at locations other than main campuses;
  • growing concern and demand for equitable services for all students in higher education, no matter where the "classroom" may be, or in the absence of a classroom at all;
  • a greater demand for library resources and services by faculty and staff at distance learning sites;
  • and the expansion and advancement in technological innovations in the transmittal of information and the delivery of courses.

A key section of the Standards, the "Access Entitlement Principle," communicates the rights that college and university students, faculty, and staff have in accessing library services and resources:

"All students, faculty members, administrators, staff members, or any other members of an institution of higher education are entitled to the library services and resources of that institution, including direct communication with the appropriate library personnel, regardless of where they are physically located in relation to the campus; where they attend class in relation to the institution’s main campus; or the modality by which they take courses. Academic libraries must, therefore, meet the information and research needs of all these constituents, wherever they may be. This principle of access entitlement, as applied to individuals at a distance, is the undergirding and uncompromising conviction of the Standards for Distance Learning Library Services."

Feedback and Suggestions

We welcome any feedback or suggestions that you might have to improve SU Libraries' support for online and distance students. Please share your ideas with Online Learning Librarian John Stawarz ( or 315-443-9784). Or if you'd prefer to submit your feedback anonymously, please use the survey below. Note: If you are looking for general reference support, please refer to the Finding Help tab of this guide. Thank you for your help!

News and Tips for Online & Distance Students

cover of book introduction to online learning

New to online learning? Take a look at one of the resources available at SU Libraries: Introduction to Online Learning: A Guide for Students: "Online learning can be satisfying and rigorous, enjoyable and accommodating, but as with most things in life, success is more likely for those who know what to expect." 

2019 Welcome Fest

New to SU Libraries? In fall 2019, Bird Library held its annual Welcome Fest to introduce new and returning students to the our resources and services. Watch a recording of the event to discover how the SU Libraries can support learning and research across campus and beyond.

Are you an online and/or distance student?

Syracuse University Libraries defines online and distance as anyone who falls into one of these four categories: 

  • Anyone currently taking at least one online course at Syracuse University, whether as a full-time student or as a part-time student;
  • Anyone currently enrolled in a course through University College or Project Advance;
  • SU students who live more than 30 miles away; and
  • SU students who are away from campus for any reason, including internships.


Image of students learning at keyboard

Online Learning Librarian

John Stawarz's picture
John Stawarz
Learning Commons
Bird Library