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International Baccalaureate Programme/Secondary schools information for students and teachers

Welcome to the SFU Library!

This guide provides information to IB and other secondary school students and teachers that will enable you to access the collections and services of SFU Libraries. We want to help you make the most of the library. If this guide does not address your specific inquiries, please feel free to ask us!

Information for students

Using the SFU libraries

Library cards for IB / Secondary school students

We are pleased to provide free library cards to Grade 11 & 12 IB and other secondary school classes visiting campus for research workshops.  These cards provide students with borrowing and access privileges.

Current IB and secondary school students who are not participating in organized class visits may also contact us directly to discuss possible options for obtaining individual library cards.

International Baccalaureate Programs may also organize the provision of library cards for their students (see Information for Teachers).

Borrowing information and library card privileges

Library cards may be issued to Grade 11 and 12 students. Grade 11 students in good standing may have their cards renewed for the following year. Expiry dates for Library cards are: August 31st for Grade 11, and June 30th for Grade 12.

Students can check out an unlimited number of books for 3 weeks.  These books have unlimited online renewals as long as no one else has placed a hold on the item. While there is typically no overdue fines for regular books, those that have holds on them will incur fines if they are not returned on time. Students are responsible for paying fines for these items.

Students may request books from other campuses - these will be transferred to the library of the student's choice and placed on the local hold shelf.

Library policies

When visiting and using the Library, we ask that you follow the library's policies regarding code of conduct, food and drink consumption, and quiet study areas.

Logging in and your Library account

Students will receive:

  1. A guest log-in with a user name (starting with IC....) and a password.
    • This guest log-in will allow students to use library computers and access our electronic resources IN PERSON at SFU Burnaby's W.A.C. Bennett Library or SFU Surrey's Fraser Library.
    • Students cannot use their guest access at SFU Vancouver's Belzberg Library in order to use computers or electronic resources.
  2. A library card with a barcode. Use it to:
    • Borrow books: Students may borrow books from (and return books to) all three SFU Libraries.
    • Log in to your Library Catalogue account. This will allow you to see what you have checked out, to renew materials, and to place holds.
IB students cannot access the library's electronic resources, such as eBooks, online reference sources, or online journal articles, from off-campus! To access these resources, you will need to use your guest log-in IN PERSON at W.A.C. Bennett Library (SFU Burnaby) or Fraser Library (SFU Surrey).

Library research

The library website offers many resources to better enable students to complete their research. In addition to research materials such as books and journals, we are happy to provide resources that have been designed to improve your research skills. SFU Library's Research Skills Tutorial covers the basic information that every university student needs to know about library research.

Check out the Library Research Tutorials, where you can find further information and resources about the research process, search strategies, citing and referencing, and more.

Getting started

Before you begin your research, you must understand your assignment and determine the best approach to writing about your given topic. Check out the "Getting Started" module of the Research Skills Tutorial to learn how to move from a general assignment topic to a manageable research topic!

Once you have refined your topic and determined how to approach your research, you will be prepared to search for resources. To find the best resources, you will need to select keywords for your search that will address the major and minor concepts of your research topic. Check out our Research Concepts Worksheet as a visual tool for creating a search string!

Once you have determined your search terms, try Library Search - a search tool which allows you to simultaneously search through SFU's books, articles, webpages, and more - or search for a specific information source using the strategies described for Finding Background Information, Finding Books, or Finding Scholarly Articles.

As you find resources, be sure to note all relevant information so that you can properly cite these sources!

Finding background information

Check out the "Finding Background Information" module of the Research Skills Tutorial to learn how to gain the necessary foundational knowledge in any given topic.

Reference sources are designed to help you find specific types of information quickly. Different kinds of reference sources provide:
  • overviews of subjects to help you find a topic to focus on
  • background information and key facts on your topic
  • definitions of important words or concepts
  • suggestions for more sources about your topic

With a basic understanding of the subject, you will be prepared to begin your research! Check out these open-access online reference sources or visit our guide to online reference sources:


Use dictionaries to better understand words and concepts. Language dictionaries provide word definitions or translate between languages. Make sure that you use reputable sources! Check out these freely available online dictionaries from trusted publishers:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus
Language-information resource maintained by one of America's leading and most-trusted provider of language information.

Oxford Dictionaries
Contains a growing number of dictionaries and language resources for the English language, but also Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


One of the best strategies for researching a new topic is to start with background sources like encyclopedias! Check out these open-access online reference sources:

Canadian Encyclopedia
Provides articles from the English, French and junior editions of print editions. It also includes "On this day in history" feature, quizzes, interactive maps, graphs and games, biographies of 100 notable Canadians, and the 100 greatest events in Canadian history.

Encyclopedia Britannica
Offers hundreds of thousands of articles, biographies, videos, and images. Great, free alternative to Wikipedia - more reputable too! On campus, you can access the expanded, academic edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, which features over 98,000 articles.

A peer-reviewed, open-access, online scientific encyclopedia where knowledge is curated by communities of experts. Scholarpedia is inspired by Wikipedia and aims to complement it by providing in-depth scholarly treatments of scientific, academic topics. Includes articles from encyclopediae for applied mathematics, astrophysics, computational neuroscience, fluid dynamics, etc.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
An up-to-date reference work on philosophy and related disciplines. designed so that each entry is maintained and kept up to date by an expert or group of experts in the field.

World Factbook
Information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

Check out our Online Reference Sources guide for more resources! You can access subscription-based resources, such as the Gale Virtual Reference Library or  Oxford Reference Online, on-campus using your guest log-in.

Finding books

Check out the "Finding Books" module of the Research Skills Tutorial to learn how to find books and ebooks!

You can find books by searching in the Library Catalogue - a searching tool which provides information about the location of the book and whether it's available to be borrowed.


Here are some important tips that will simplify the borrowing process!

Check out the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide to learn additional tips on how to search the library catalogue!

You do not have to read the entire book front to back! Most of the books in the library are not meant to be read through from the beginning to the end. You can select a section or chapter, and that on its own will make sense.


SFU has access to many collections of e-books from a variety of publishers and providers. You can find ebooks by searching in the Library Catalogue - they will be identifiable as a web resource. You can only access ebooks from on-campus using your guest log-in.

Finding scholarly articles

Check out the "Finding Scholarly Articles" module of the Research Skills Tutorial to learn how to effectively find scholarly articles using library and open-access resources!

Journal articles are a great resource for your academic research. Scholars publish their original research in journals in order to advance research in their given field. Articles are great resources for historical, current, scholarly, in-depth perspectives. As you search for articles, you will want to make sure that the article is in fact scholarly or peer-reviewed.

A journal is a collection of articles (like a magazine) that is published regularly throughout the year. Journals present the most recent research, and journal articles are written by researchers, for researchers. A certain level of background knowledge is required, so consult encyclopedias and dictionaries both before and during article research.

You can find journals using Library Search, but you can also find articles in journal databases. In order to successfully find journal articles for your research, you will need to identify key concepts to use in your keyword search. A journal database is a storage of thousands or millions of citations to articles published in a selected group of journals. Databases allow you to find citations and/or abstracts for articles on one topic in many journals without having to look through each issue of each journal.You can find recommended databases by subject in the research guides, or by browsing database titles alphabetically or by subject area in the database directory.

 Open Access databases:

Open Access publications are free to read on the open internet. However, these sources are still written and published to the high standards of scholarly publishing. Readers can download, copy and distribute an Open Access publication, as long as credit is given to the authors. Readers do not require a subscription or any other form of payment, either personally or through their university or library, to access the content.You can freely access these articles from home!

Check out the following Open-Access Databases:

For additional open-access databases, check out the Database Directory and look for the open-lock icon: 

Additional journal databases:

On-campus, you can also access subscription-based databases. Check out these multi-disciplinary databases:

Academic Search Premier
Full text for thousands of journals. This scholarly collection includes critical information from a broad range of disciplines, including political science and public administration, language and literature, communications, business administration, biological and medical sciences, computer sciences, engineering, education and history.

Google Scholar
Search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.
Although Google Scholar is a free-to-use searching tool, some of the content on Google Scholar is not freely available - check with a librarian to determine whether the library has a subscription to the content!

Full-text archival collection of core scholarly journals mainly in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Subject coverage includes African American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Botany & Ecology, Economics, Education, Finance, General Science, History, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Population Studies, Sociology and Statistics.

To find more database suggestions, find your research subject area in the list of research guides and click on the "books and articles" tab, or browse databases by subject in the database directory.

Additional Resources:

School or public libraries often provide their patrons access to online resources, including many databases. Check out your local libraries to see what databases are available to you!

Information for teachers

Using the library

We are pleased to provide free library cards to Grade 11 & 12 IB and other secondary school students who are visiting campus for research workshops.

Library cards grant students the provisions described in Using the Library. The provision of library cards is also subject to the following considerations:

  • Schools are responsible for renewing students' cards for the following year. Grade 11 students in good standing may have their cards renewed.
  • Students are responsible for paying fines. If SFU Library is unable to collect money from the student, the student's school is expected to make full recompense. We will contact schools in May to sort out student fines.
  • Expiry dates for Library cards are: August 31st for Grade 11, and June 30th for Grade 12.

Students can check out an unlimited number of books for 3 weeks.  These books have unlimited online renewals as long as no one else has placed a hold on the item. While there is typically no overdue fines for regular books, those that have holds on them will incur fines if they are not returned on time. Students are responsible for paying fines for these items.

Students may request books from other campuses - these will be transferred to the library of the student's choice and placed on the local hold shelf.

To renew expired IB / Secondary school library cards or to request cards without a visit, please contact Chuk Goodin, Access Services supervisor: / 778-782-4088.

Research visits

IB / Secondary school visits are designed to introduce students to university-level library research and student life at SFU. 

Research visits are offered in April/May [Spring term], Reading Break (Spring Term), and November/December [Winter term] and are dependent on staffing and space availability. Please note that these visits are available at SFU Burnaby's W.A.C. Bennett Library during these non-peak periods only. 

Overview and agenda: Students will practice drafting a search strategy and using the SFU Library website to find books, journal articles, and other research resources. They will practice using keywords to search for information on a topic of interest and be introduced to the Library's Research Guides, particularly those that are relevant to their extended essays (45 min.)

To request a Research Visit please contact Madison Chad in Student Recruitment at least one month before your planned visit: /  778.782.5428