Information for BC secondary school - including International Baccalaureate Programme - students and teachers

Welcome to the SFU Library!

This guide provides information to currently enrolled BC secondary school students and teachers that will enable you to access the collections and services of SFU Libraries. If this guide does not address your specific inquiries, please feel free to ask us!

COVID-19 service changes

During COVID-19, we are not scheduling visits to the Library or campus.  We are also not issuing cards or borrowing items to secondary school students at this time. 

SFU Library continues to deliver a wide range of remote services, including extensive online collections, digital course reserves, remote instruction, and consultations with experts.

Following guidance from provincial health authorities and SFU, the Library is gradually restoring some in-person services. 

See Library service updates during COVID-19 for details as they become available. If you have questions about Library services that are not answered here, please contact us at

Information for students

  Using the SFU libraries during COVID 19

Library cards for BC secondary school students 

We are not providing new cards or borrowing to non-SFU users during COVID-19.

We are pleased to provide library cards to students who are currently enrolled BC secondary school students.  These cards provide students with borrowing and access privileges to our physical collection.

International Baccalaureate Programs or other secondary school groups participating in campus research visits may organize the provision of library cards for their students (see Information for Teachers).

Current BC secondary school students who are not participating in research visits as part of their secondary school courses may also contact us directly to discuss possible options for obtaining individual library cards.

Borrowing information and library card privileges

During COVID 19 we are not recalling items and the due dates for your items are often extended by the library.  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.
The library book stacks are currently closed to browsing and borrowing for all non-SFU users at this time.

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

Library policies

If students use the library to study, we ask that you follow the library's policies regarding COVID 19 study protocols.

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.
    • 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:
BC secondary students 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).

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.

View additional Library Research Tutorials & Guides, where you can find further information and resources about the research process, search strategies, citing and referencing, and more.

Getting started

Wondering how to get started with research for your assignment? Check out Start your research here: an overview of the research process for a quick, five-step overview of how to do library research - from selecting a topic to citing your sources.

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

Finding background information

Reference or background sources are designed to help you find specific types of information quickly. These kinds of sources may 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:


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. 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 a guest log-in.

Finding books

You can use the Library Catalogue to search for books by title, author or keywords. We are currently only lending books from the library.

Find out how to locate and/or check out your books and other materials at Library Catalogue search guide.

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 a guest log-in.

Finding scholarly articles

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.

Check out this guide to How to find journal articles for information and tips about finding these kinds of sources via SFU Library.

 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 during COVID 19

Using the library

We are currently not hosting research visits to the library, creating new cards or borrowing to secondary school students during COVID 19.

We are pleased to provide library cards to currently enrolled BC secondary school students, but the library is currently unavailable to non-SFU users during COVID 19.

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. BC secondary students up to Grade 11, 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 grades up to Grade 11, and June 30th for Grade 12.

Students typically can check out an unlimited number of books for 3 weeks. During COVID 19 we are not recalling items or borrowing items to secondary students and the due dates for items you took out prior to COVID 19 are often extended by the library.  Typically, 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.

The library stacks are currently closed to browsing and borrowing to non-SFU users during COVID 19.  

To renew expired BC secondary school library cards or to request cards without a visit, please contact Chuk Goodin, Access Services supervisor: