Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources


Use of electronic resources including databases, journals, books and multimedia is subject to copyright laws and license agreements. In accordance with fair use provisions of the copyright law and our license agreements, authorized library users may search, view and browse these resources. Users may also print or download excerpts of reasonable quantity for educational or scholarly purposes.

Commercial use, systematic or excessive downloading, copying, distributing or retaining substantial portions of information is prohibited. Users are individually responsible for compliance with these terms. Abuse of these terms could result in a suspension of access to a resource for the entire Northwestern University community. If a library user needs to use an electronic resource in a way that conflicts with the library’s appropriate use policy they should contact Kristi Holmes, Library Director, to see if special arrangements can be made.

If a user fails to comply with this policy, the Galter Health Sciences Library reserves the right to restrict, suspend or revoke the individual user’s access to electronic resources and in extreme cases revoke access to the library and all its services.

Examples of appropriate and inappropriate use:

  Appropriate Use

  Inappropriate Use

  • viewing, downloading, copying, printing and/or saving a copy of search results, individual articles, a single book chapter, etc.
  • downloading several chapters of a book, more then half of the content from an issue of a journal, or a large number of records from a database in a short period of time
  • using automated tools such as a robot or spider to automatically search, retrieve, and locally store information from web-based resources


  • emailing an article to faculty, staff or a student of Northwestern University or its affiliates
  • distributing an article to users who are not affiliated with Northwestern University
  • providing a link to an article or book chapter on a publicly available website
  • restricting access to an article or book chapter using a course reserve system
  • posting a copy or sharing an account to an article, book, or multimedia resource on a website, electronic distribution list, forum, etc. that is available to the public


  • using e-resources in support of scholarly and scientific research, teaching, clinical support, and continuing education
  • using e-resources for commercial gain including reselling, redistributing or republishing licensed content

Related Links:


back to top

Updated: March 5, 2020