Frequently Asked Questions

What library resources and services are available to me as a distance education student?

You have access to nearly all the same library resources and services that a student attending classes on campus has--librarians can help you with research or citations, staff can help you with your library account, and more. You can access research materials using your online library card account.

However, some resources are not available online. Common examples include course reserve textbooks, DVDs, and special archival materials, etc. These can only be accessed in person at the library. Please contact us if you are having trouble finding what you need, so we can assist you.

How do I get a library card account?

Students need a library card from a Peninsula Library System library, which includes College of San Mateo, Cañada College, Skyline College, and all public libraries in County of San Mateo.

San Mateo County residents may get a card online from their local public library.

Get a PLS Library Card Account

Students, faculty, and staff who live outside of San Mateo County, or who are unable to get a card from PLS can get a card online from us.

Get a CSM Library Card Account

Once we verify your status as a distance student we will email or send you a library card account number and PIN that will enable you to remotely access the CSM Library's online research databases until the end of the current semester.

Please note that online accounts are eligible for use of online materials only. However, if you need to borrow physical library books or materials, you can update your library card account by presenting a photo ID and proof of your current mailing address at CSM Library or one of the other PLS libraries. You may receive a new account number when you update your library card account.

How do I talk to a librarian?

To contact a librarian in person, on the phone, text, chat, or email, visit Ask a Librarian. During open hours, we will respond to phone, text, and chat right away.