Answered By: Tom Reinsfelder Last Updated: May 10, 2018 Views: 1018
PSU libraries are open to the public and any resident of PA may obtain a library card and borrow physical materials without a fee. Our many electronic research databases are also available to those who visit a PSU library at any PSU location. For e-book information, you can see some details here
Unfortunately, non-students (including alumni) must physically visit a PSU library location to use many of our e-books. The restrictions on electronic books are publisher/vendor restrictions and not Penn State policies. We do not have the option to allow remote access to non-current PSU students or employees in many cases. In fact, many publishers/vendors do not even allow our current students, staff, and faculty to use these e-books offline (i.e., to print, save or download more than a few pages to a computer or reading device).
Many librarians are frustrated by the current state of e-books and publisher policies related to selling content to libraries. While e-books allow us to supplement our offerings greatly and have many benefits for our students, they do have some significant limitations for non-students. Our challenge is to find the right balance for all of our users. This is something we are working on, and this problem is not unique to our library.
Further, the prices we pay for e-books are determined in a manner similar to the way we pay for our many research databases and online magazines/journals. Costs the library must pay are based on the number of current students at the university and/or how often materials are viewed/downloaded. If we were to provide unrestricted access to e-books & e-journals things could get much more expensive.
If there is something specific you would like to access, we may be able suggest alternatives like borrowing a print copy or accessing an electronic copy through another source such as a public library.
Public libraries in PA provide very good access to many e-books.
See more at
You may also be interested in our Alumni Library program where as a Penn State Alumni Association member, you gain privileges that will allow you to use a selection of online databases not available to the general public.
You can read more details at https://alumni.libraries.psu.edu.