When accessed from an on-campus computer or through the campus wireless network, most e-books are available to all users. However, off-campus access requires a NetID login and is limited to students, staff, and faculty.

To find e-books, perform a search in the Library Catalog then check the box for Available Online and Filter By the Format Book . Each e-book’s catalog record includes a link to the full text.

UW Libraries subscribe to several dozen e-book databases. The content of each is represented in the Library Catalog. When considering whether to use the Library Catalog or to search in a specific database, note that some e-book databases have a tight topical focus. If your research is a match to the topical focus, it may be useful to search in that database instead of the Library Catalog. For a full list of e-book databases, click E-Book Collections.

For example: Bloomsbury Medieval Studies and Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels offer significantly different e-book choices.

Use E-books Online or Download

Each database functions differently, though most share some common traits.

  • Online: Most include an online e-book reader. Some e-book databases encourage users to make accounts in addition to your NetID login. Accounts enable features like keeping lists of items, marking pages, or taking notes.
  • Download: Some e-book databases require special software (like Adobe Digital Editions or Overdrive) to download items. Software like this allows e-books to be used on your device while hindering sharing/duplication and enforcing the publisher’s loan periods or restrictions.
  • Some e-book databases require that items be checked out, just like a physical book. If an item is checked out by another patron (online or as a download), the database interface will make this clear.

E-books Not Owned by UW-Madison

Most libraries are prohibited from sharing e-books with other libraries, so services like Interlibrary Loan cannot provide e-books. Here are two alternative options to consider:

  • Interlibrary Loan could likely bring a print copy of the item to campus.
  • Users may Request Purchase of an e-book, but a request doesn’t guarantee it will be purchased. If an item is purchased, you’ll be emailed when it becomes available for use.

Google Books

Google Books can provide access to e-books that are in the public domain.