Skip to content

Image Source.

Ever try to access an ebook in the Himmelfarb Library collection and get the message “Sorry, this ebook is in use”? Ever wonder why we can’t just scan entire books in our collection to create an electronic copy? Ever get frustrated by a broken article link in Blackboard and wonder why they couldn’t just upload a PDF? While these seem like questions about different systems, they all come down to the same thing - copyright.

eBook is in use error message

When a library acquires an ebook, they don’t actually own the ebook - they license a copy from the publisher. The same thing happens when you “purchase” an ebook from Amazon. And much like Amazon ebooks come with publisher restrictions in place to prevent piracy, library ebooks have their own limits established by the publishers. These include everything from limits to how many pages you can save or print to how many people can access the ebook at once. If you’re trying to access one of our eBooks and get a message that someone else is using the book, usually if you wait 15-20 minutes and try again you’ll be able to get in.

As for scanning entire physical books to create our own electronic copies, that would violate copyright laws. However, when working with copyrighted materials in academia we are allowed a little more flexibility thanks to the fair use doctrine. Essentially, fair use allows us to use copyrighted material without explicit permission from the copyright holder. The fair use doctrine even explicitly mentions educational purposes as one of the main reasons it exists. When it comes to scanning physical books, generally the fair use guidelines state that you can scan one chapter or less than 10% of the book. This allows us to take advantage of our InterLibrary Loan system to the fullest, so you can access chapters from books not in our collection.

Fair use is also why we provide durable links to articles in Blackboard rather than full PDFs. Reproducing the full PDF would require your professor to obtain permission from the copyright holder. Linking to the article in Himmelfarb’s collection doesn’t. If you ever run into a broken link in Blackboard, get in touch with your professor and let us know at so we can update the link.

Taken from our Copyright Research Guide.

Have additional questions about copyright? Take a look at our Copyright Research Guide. Questions about electronic access? Email us at

Crumpled paper and a paper airplane on a dark blue background
Photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash

As Himmelfarb Library begins the transition into Our New Normal, you may have questions about where to access certain services and resources we provide. Here’s a guide on what you’ll find available online and in-person.


All of our e-journals, e-databases, and e-books remain available online. We also provide our Documents2Go service entirely online, where you can request articles unavailable in our collection.

We offer instructions on downloading and installing our mobile apps to your device.

There is a host of information available on our Research Guides, everything from question banks to anatomy images, and much more!

Himmelfarb’s Reference team is also available online. Our chat service is monitored by reference staff 8:30AM-8PM EST Monday through Thursday and 8:30AM-5PM EST Friday. Have a question a little too involved for chat? We can also schedule individual meetings with a reference librarian via WebEx. Email us at to start the process!


In addition to our print collection available in our book stacks, you can also find our multimedia collection, audiovisual collection, and software resources on the third floor, in the Bloedorn Technology Center.

Our special collections, the Humanities & Health collection, Historical collection, and Healthy Living collection, are all accessible in-person.

Some of our older journals are kept in on-site storage as bound volumes. You can request a specific volume for perusal by following the instructions on our Borrowing and Requesting page.

Anatomy models are available in various places throughout the library. Our skeletal models and bone boxes are up on the third floor. Heart and brain models can be checked out at the Circulation desk.

If you have any questions about access as we move forward with Our New Normal, reach out to us at or call the Circulation Desk at 202-994-2962.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Himmelfarb Library would like to welcome all of our new users! Whether you are a new resident, fellow, physician assistant or public health student, we welcome you to the GW community! Himmelfarb is ready to serve you and help make your experience here a positive one. You may be curious about what Himmelfarb has to offer and how you can make the most of our resources and services. Here are the top five things we’d like you to know about Himmelfarb:

1) Getting Research Help is Easy!

Our reference librarians are available to answer your questions and provide research support when and where you need help. Get your research and library-related questions answered right from your computer by using the Ask a Librarian service! Reference librarians are available to answer your texts and instant message questions Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-8:00pm, and Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm. 

2) Himmelfarb Resources are Available Anytime, Anywhere.

Himmelfarb’s 100 databases, 4,100 journals, and 4,500 e-books are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our e-book collection includes most major textbooks from most fields. Install the LibKey Nomad Google Chrome browser extension for seamless and speedy access to full-text articles available through Himmelfarb. After installing the extension, choose ‘George Washington University - Himmelfarb Library’ as your institution, and you’ll be all set. For more information about accessing Himmelfarb’s online resources including tips for navigating articles, check out our E-Resources FAQs page.

To access our electronic resources from off-campus, we recommend connecting to the GW VPN. The Himmelfarb off-campus access page provides additional information about installing the VPN and accessing electronic resources with your GW NetID. Many of our resources are also available as mobile apps for download on your mobile devices. 

3) 3D Printing is Available!

Himmelfarb has a 3D printer available for use by faculty, staff and students in SMHS, SON, GWSPH, the GW Hospital and the MFA. 3D printing will be available once the library opens its doors again. For more information about 3D printing at Himmelfarb, check out our 3D Printing Guide.

4) If We Don’t Have It, We’ll Do Our Best To Get It For You.

While we attempt to make our collection as robust as possible, we don’t have access to everything. In the event that we don’t have access to a resource that you need, you can place a request through our Interlibrary Loan/Documents2Go service. Through this service, we are able to work with a nationwide network of libraries to obtain a copy of a needed resource on your behalf. Articles are normally delivered within 24-72 hours. Interested in learning more about this service? Check our in-depth Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery guide.

5) The Health Sciences Research Commons Can Expand the Reach of Your Research!

Health Sciences Research Commons (HSRC) is Himmelfarb’s institutional repository, and is a perfect place for you to share your research output during your time at GW. All faculty, researchers, students (with the sponsorship of a faculty member), and staff affiliated with SMHS, SON, GWSPH at GW are eligible to submit their scholarly works to HSRC. By placing your work in HSRC, your work will be easily shareable and discoverable via Google Scholar and other search engines. If you have questions about the HSRC, take a look at the FAQ page or contact Sara Hoover (, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian, for more information.

This top five list is just a glimpse into all that Himmelfarb has to offer! In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have numerous research guides on a wide variety of topics. Tutorials are also available on a variety of topics. Himmelfarb welcomes you to the GW community! 



TrialWolters Kluwer had provided trial access to the following resources through May 24, 2020.  All resources are accessible from off-campus location to users who are logged into the GW VPN.   For information and instructions on using the VPN, please consult Himmelfarb's Off-Campus Access instructions.
Gideon is an infectious disease database that allows users to access information about diagnoses for a wide variety of diseases (including COVID-19) and serves as a fantastic epidemiology reference.  Gideon has application for clinical and public health education and practice.
Several resources may be useful to students in programs in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School of Nursing:
'Health Library' resources typically provide full-text access to a high-quality set of book titles.  Additional Q&A and study features are also accessible to users who create a free personal account.  Some of the resources provide access to a more focused set of resources which may be most relevant to students in specific programs:
Physician Assistant
Exercise Science
Physical Therapy
Occupational Therapy
Please contact Laura Abate ( with feedback and questions.
Image citation: Youngson, N. (no date) Trials.  Retrieved April 2, 2020 from

The expanded Research Guide is a one stop for the latest health care and public health focused news, research, literature resources, and clinical guidelines on COVID-19.  It also includes the latest University news and resources for the GW health care community.

The News page includes breaking news, regularly updated newsfeeds like Kaiser Health News and NEJM’s Physician First Watch, and podcasts. Check out JAMA’s regular Q&A’s on COVID-19 for CME credit and CDC’s weekly COCA calls.

The Literature, Database and Data Resources page has portals developed by trusted publishers like BMJ, Springer Nature, and Wiley, and targeted search services like NLM’s LitCovid. Datasets include those that populate Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard and sequence data from NLM Genbank.

Additional pages support clinical, laboratory, and infection control services, and resources for specific medical specialties. Among these are Airway & Management guidelines by Dr. Jeffrey Berger, GW Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, and a Critical Care Primer on resources for non-ICU clinicians called on to support ICU patients, developed by Laura Abate at Himmelfarb.  Also access Master Protocols from University of Washington and UCSF here.

Public health and emergency management resources include tracking maps and dashboards, as well as critical resources from CDC and WHO (daily situation summaries and guidance). State and local public health department COVID-19 information and emergency management agencies are also listed.

The guide will be updated regularly and we encourage you to share any resources we’ve missed by emailing  As always, our team of health sciences librarians is here to assist you with using any of these resources or other information needs at this time. Email us or chat us Monday-Thursday from 8:30am-8pm and Friday 8:30am-5pm.


Did you know that Himmelfarb Library provides a specialized web page available to our GW Hospital users? Here you will be able to find access to databases, ebooks, and e-journals that are available to you.

Himmelfarb’s website for GW Hospital users tries to maximize access and convenience:

  • No login required: resources listed can be accessed without logging in.
  • Automatic display of customized webpage; simply locate the Himmelfarb web page from a GWU Hospital location it will display automatically.

Information tools are optimized for clinical use and include:

  • DynaMed: evidence-based, clinically organized topics that are constantly updated as the study of medicine grows. The content ranges from comprehensive reviews of diseases and conditions, to abnormal findings based on differential diagnosis and management. You can also download the DynaMed mobile app to get easy access on your mobile devices!
  • Lexicomp: comprehensive clinical drug information includes access to a drug interaction checker, drug ID Tool, and calculators.
  • ClinicalKey and ClinicalKey for Nursing: full-text access to key books, journals, drug information, clinical overviews and more.

To explore the full selection of resources available to GW Hospital users, select Databases, Hospital e-Journals, or Hospital e-Books from the homepage.  Each of these pages will help you locate resources that can be accessed from the GW Hospital and without entering a login/password. If you have a GW NetID, you can view a complete list of available resources by changing to the default library webpage or by changing the view on an individual page (i.e. toggling from Hospital E-Journals to All E-Journals.

If you have questions, please contact!



best minds in medicine.png

AccessMedicine has introduced several new features to support learning across the continuum of medical education - from undergraduate to continuing medical education.  AccessMedicine features nearly 150 full-text books including key titles such as Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (20th ed), Basic & Clinical Biostatistics (4th ed.), and Symptom to Diagnosis: An Evidence-Based Guide (3rd ed.).

In addition to its full-text library, AccessMedicine offers resources to support study and learning.  To complement its already robust collection of drug information, multimedia materials, cases, and study tools, AccessMedicine has introduced several new features including:

AccessMedicine is available from on-and off-campus locations.  Please contact Laura Abate ( with questions.

let's talk vaccines book coverHow can you talk with patients about vaccines?  How can you address vaccine hesitancy, combat myths and misinformation, and save lives?

Himmelfarb Library recently added Let's Talk Vaccines: A Clinician's Guide to Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy and Saving Lives to our online and print collections.  Let's Talk Vaccines covers everything from the science of vaccine safety to the psychology of risk communication.  It includes real-life examples and thoughtful, evidence-based techniques that will help patients understand vaccines and make informed decisions.

Let's Talk Vaccines is useful to primary care providers, pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, and public health advocates.  The book provides an excellent framework for how to approach difficult discussions, with the goal of improving the health of each patient as well as the community at large.  The book uses a patient-centered approach to

  • Directly address the increasing trend of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, including the history and psychology of the anti-vaccine movement.
  • Examine the issues underlying vaccine hesitancy, answering the common questions and concerns that vaccine-hesitant patients may raise during office visits.
  • Help you dispel myths and fears that many patients have, with particular attention paid to misinformation and skepticism on social media.
  • Cover the anti-vaccine movement’s assertions about autism, autoimmune illnesses and allergies, toxic ingredients, overwhelming the immune system, conspiracies, and more – bringing you up to date with the most common issues and effective approaches to the vaccine discussion.
  • Provide practical tips on approaching the vaccine-hesitant parent and how anti-vaccine patients change their minds, with a focus on remaining a positive partner in your patients’ care and finding greater success in your vaccination efforts

Let's Talk Vaccines is available online from both on- and off-campus locations.  Himmelfarb Library's print copy is currently available on the New Book Shelf (QR189 .L37 2020) and is available for checkout.


Are you interested in creating healthy sleep habits, learning more about mindfulness, or learning healthy ways to manage stress? Himmelfarb Library has the right books for you! 

Do you struggle with getting enough quality sleep? Consider one of these books available in the healthy living collection: 

If mindfulness or meditation are more your interest, consider one of the following books:

The holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Learn healthy ways to manage this stress using these books: 


JAMAevidence has information and tools to support you whether you're working on basic concepts, clinical application, or advanced analysis of evidence-based medicine.  For example, JAMAevidence provides access to:
JAMAevidence provides access to information and tools to identify the best available evidence and to support users in the systematic evaluation of the validity, importance, and applicability of health sciences research.  In addition to full-text access to key books, JAMAevidence gives you:
JAMAevidence is available 24/7 from the Himmelfarb Library’s webpage.  If you have any questions, please contact Laura Abate (


GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.