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Library Services and Collections During COVID-19

FAQs about library services


Due to the rise of COVID infections in the region, only students, faculty, and staff with a current CU ID may enter Mullen Library at this time.  No food or drink will be allowed and a face covering will be required at all times. Thank you for your cooperation!

  • All library services have returned to normal operations while following DC safety protocols and university policies.

  • All who enter the library are required to wear a mask at all times inside the building.

  •  All students, staff, and faculty are required  to show their current CU ID to gain entry to the building. NOTE: In December 2020, Technology Services updated its building access system and the new card readers only work with the new blue Cardinal Cards. If you have not picked up your new card, contact the Card ID office at extension PARK (202-552-7275).

  • The most up to date hours are always posted on our website.

  • Patrons will be able to check out and return books at the Circulation Desk.

  • Patrons who prefer no contact may use our easy, self-check station in the library lobby and return books to one of our book drops (in the library lobby and at the rear of the library).

  • The Special Collections, Oliveira Lima Library, and Semitics/ICOR Library are open by appointment.
Services Available? Requirement
Walk-in library access Yes, with photo ID Current ID card required. See mask policy.
Alumni library access Not at this time See Information for Alumni.
Study in the library Yes, with photo ID Current ID card required. See mask policy
Browse the library stacks Yes, with photo ID Current ID card required. See mask policy. Use self-checkout kiosk. Book pickup info
Printing & computer use Yes Print in our computer lab or bring your laptop. See computers or printers FAQ. See mask policy.
Access Services & Circulation desk Service desk is open. Questions? Call 202-319-5060 or email
Research assistance & Information desk Service desk closed. Email or call. Email a Librarian or call 202-319-5070
Meet with research librarians Yes, schedule an online or in-person appointment Meet with a Librarian or contact a library liaisons
Library instruction Yes, instruction offered online only in summer 2021 Classroom instruction information
Course reserves Online-only for summer 2021 (no print items on reserve) Course reserves information
Book drop Yes, behind library or inside Book drop behind library open 24 hours. Indoor drop during library hours.
Return books by mail Yes See mailing items instructions
Request items from other universities Yes, via CLS and ILL Info about requests. NOTE: print items take longer than usual to arrive

What is the current Mullen Library mask policy? 

A photo ID is required for all building users.

All library users, including Vaccinated patrons and Unvaccinated patrons, must wear a mask at all times, in accordance with DC and campus guidelines to protect themselves and those in our community who are unable to receive the vaccine.

Can I use the library computers or printers? 

Login to on-site computers requires a current CU ID; library visitors can connect their personal laptops to the CU network using the Library's wi-fi.

  • Printers are available on all 3 floors of Mullen Library. These machines also offer scanning. Look for the printer icon on our PDF map.
  • Computers are available in several library locations. Look for the computer icon on our PDF map.
  • To print from a personal laptop, connect to the CUA-SECURE network and print to the closest printer (instructions for printing in the library).
  • Additional computers and printers are available in the computer lab in Leahy Hall.

How do I reach library staff with my questions? 

Here are several easy-to-use options:

Access Services / Circulation Desk. Contact the Circulation Desk staff by phone or email for questions about your library account, borrowing or renewing items, course reserves, and interlibrary loans. Email: and phone: 202-319-5060.

Email a Librarian Submit questions 24/7 and you will receive an email reply on the next business day or sooner.

Talk to your Subject-Liaison Librarian for in-depth research assistance. Book an appointment with a specific librarian using Meet with a Librarian, or you can email or call them. Liaison librarians can help you develop an information-seeking strategy, guide you through finding articles and books, help you use citation tools, and assist as you focus your research.

Call us: for help with research call the Information Desk at 202-319-5070. For help checking out or requesting materials call the Access Services department at 202-319-5060.

FAQs about library materials

What should I do if I have a book that is due? 

Use our book drop or mail the item/s back to the library. Details for each are below.

  1. Book Drop: If you are on campus or able to travel to campus, place your books in the book drop at the rear of Mullen Library. During library hours, you may use the book drop in the library.

  2. Mailing Items: If you are a remote user, you may ship your borrowed books to us following these instructions to ensure the safe return of the items:
    • No more than 10 books per box
    • Trackable Shipping (UPS or Fedex)
    • Use a sturdy box, with padding (old newspaper, bubble wrap, etc.)
    • Ship To:
      Access Services
      123 Mullen Library
      The Catholic University of America
      620 Michigan Avenue NE
      Washington, DC 20064

If you wish to renew a CU or CLS book that you have borrowed, you can do that in My Library Account. For ILL renewals, please email

A note on charges: CU no longer charges overdue fines, but continues to charge fees for recalls, lost books, and damaged books. Fees for books borrowed using CLS or ILL may differ.

We thank those who return borrowed items as soon as possible and make them available to other students and faculty.

*Graduating students who have outstanding loans at the time of graduation will have a hold placed on their library account and be unable to obtain a transcript until their library account is settled.

Are the library stacks open for browsing? 


All patrons may browse our SearchBox catalog online using the Virtual Browse feature. To see this, search for a book in our collection and click on the title, then scroll down to the bottom of the catalog entry to find the Virtual Browse section.

How do I check out library items? 

Patrons in the library may borrow books by using the self-checkout machine located in the first floor lobby, or by stopping at the Circulation Desk, where a staff member will charge out the item for you.

You may also request a book for pickup through SearchBox. Staff will pull the item, charge it out to you, and email you that the item is ready to be picked up and circulated.

Am I able to request items owned by other universities, using CLS or ILL Delivery? 

Yes, both physical items and online items are being delivered.

  • Physical Items -- note: expect some delays.
    Consortium (CLS) and InterLibrary (ILL) lending of physical items has resumed. However, many libraries are still closed. You may experience longer waits and we may be unable to fill some requests.

  • Online Items
    The InterLibrary Loan service is continuing to request materials which can be delivered electronically. Please submit your requests for electronic versions of book chapters and articles by logging in to your ILL account.

FAQs about textbooks and course readings

Is it okay to upload my own scan of a library item to Blackboard? 

No, usually not. The library needs to manage these uploads in our course reserve system for two reasons:

  1. When library staff upload to course reserves, we make sure fair use standards are being followed.
  2. The library tracks usage of library items on course reserve. This data informs our decisions about subscription renewals and cancellations. Direct faculty uploads to Blackboard do not offer library usage data.

Can I put books on Course Reserve for my class? 

Yes and no. Course reserves for physical items are suspended for the summer 2021 semester for the below reasons. We cannot reserve physical copies of items owned by the libraries or you personally.

  • Because many students will be taking all or some classes online, we need to ensure that everyone has access to resources online.
  • Online access to course materials allows flexibility for any individual, university or regional contingencies related to COVID-19.

To request a scan for course reserves:

Please speak with your liaison librarian about other options. We may be able to purchase the title as an e-book, or we may scan a portion of a physical book in our collection (within copyright guidelines) that can be linked for your Blackboard class.

Can Mullen Library staff scan course readings for my class? 

Yes, within copyright guidelines. Faculty can request that library scan course texts and upload them through our online course reserves. The library can scan chapters in library-owned books, instructor-owned personal books, and other readings. Instructions are below.

How to have us scan your readings (for instructors):

  1. Fill out the online request form for articles and book chapters
  2. Once the scan is completed, we will email a link to the resource. The link can then be put into a Blackboard course.

Things to note 

  1. We can scan a chapter, or up to 10% of a volume, but we cannot scan entire textbooks because of copyright law.
  2. If you wish to scan from a personal copy, please email to schedule a drop-off. We will let you know when your copy is ready to be picked up.
  3. Library staff will check for ebooks and online availability before scanning texts. If the resource is already available, we will let you know how to have your class access it, rather than creating a new scan.

Do we have access to online textbooks? 

YES, to many textbooks. We suggest these options: Image saying "Free the textbook"

  • The Open Textbook Network has freely available e-books that may serve as an alternative to an assigned textbook reading. Their offerings are arranged by subject on the Open Textbook Library website at All books and teaching materials offered through the Open Textbook Network are always available for free.
  • The University Libraries has a limited number of e-textbooks in our collections, but it is always a good idea to check SearchBox.
  • The Open Libraries project of the Internet Archive has some e-textbooks (and many other e-books) that maybe borrowed for 14 days or 1 hour. Signup is free and easy.
  • If you would like to learn more about online textbooks and open educational resources (OER), our OER guide has all the information along with liaison-recommended open textbooks.

FAQs about Accessing Library Materials Online

You have online access to many library books, journals, and resources from your computer or mobile device! This includes full-text access to thousands of e-books and articles through the library databases.

Do you have books I can read online? 

YES! To Find Library E-Books: visit our excellent E-Books Guide. There you will see information on finding and accessing e-books, understanding copy and print and download options, and using your mobile device to access e-books

E-Books Guide

How do I find articles on my topic at the library? 

Articles are best found using either our SearchBox (for broad searching) or using one of our discipline-specific journal databases. Here's how to access SearchBox:

  1. Go to the University Libraries homepage
  2. Type your search terms in the "SearchBox for Everything" widget

University Libraries Homepage - Try the "SeachBox for Everything"

  1. To get full text access to e-books and e-journal articles in SearchBox, look for “Available Online” in green (see following image).
  2. Click on "Available Online" to get a link to our database or collection offering access online.
  3. Note: when you click the link you will be prompted to login with your CU Network Login.

Look for "Available Online" under results

How do I find databases in my academic discipline or major? 

  1. Go to the University Libraries homepage
  2. Click on the "Databases" link above the search widget
  3. From here you can: 
    1. Type in the name of a database (e.g. if you already know it)
    2. Click "Databases by Category" to see the list by academic discipline
    3. OR, click "Complete Databases List" to see all our databases on the A-Z Databases page

The following image shows the A-Z Databases page. Note you may sort the list by subject, database type, or vendor.
Note: when you click a database link you will be prompted to login with your CU Network Login.

Catholic University's A-Z Databases page

What should I do if I have trouble logging into a database? 

You need to enter your Catholic University Network login to access library online resources. If you have trouble accessing one of our databases, there are a couple common reasons:

  1. You may be using the incorrect link to the database. Make sure you are accessing the database from our library website (direct links from the web will not work). If a link on the library website seems to be broken, please Email a Librarian to let us know!
  2. If the problem has to do with your Catholic University Network Login, please contact Catholic University Technology Services to get assistance, at (202) 319-4357 (HELP) or at

FAQs about Library Online Learning

What is the Library 101 series of modules? 

Our Library 101 Online Tutorial offers a self-paced series of modules that serve as a primer on using our library resources. Each module focuses on a particular step of research, including choosing and narrowing a topic, determining a research strategy, determining where to search, locating resources, and using information ethically.

Does the library offer video tutorials on using the library? 


Our webpage Online Tutorials about Library Tools includes video tutorials for learning about library features, including how to find books in the library, how to access your account online, and an entire YouTube playlist on how to effectively use the libraries' SearchBox catalog.

Can I speak to a librarian about how to use the library? 

Please do!

We welcome you to schedule a Research Consultation. Students, faculty, and staff wishing to get one-on-one help with library tools and resources are encouraged to schedule an individual consultation with our subject-expert librarians. To schedule, please submit a request using Meet with a Librarian or contact the liaison librarian in your subject area.

I've heard about LinkedIn Learning. What is it and how can I use it? 

LinkedIn Learning is an online video training library that provides short videos about all kinds of computing skills and tools. Use it to bridge the gap between the career you want and the skills you need!

Catholic University FAQs pages