Central University Libraries Southern Methodist University Central University Libraries

Distance Learning


Central University Libraries is a major educational, research, and cultural resource of Southern Methodist University. As such, its basic mission is to support and enhance the mission and curricula of the university by providing bibliographical, informational, and learning resources and services consistent with the present and anticipated needs of its user population.

The Distance Learning Library Services program within Central University Libraries (CUL) will provide library support for Southern Methodist University (SMU) students, faculty and staff, when these students are not present on the main campus. CUL will provide equitable library service to users whether they are on the main campus, at a satellite campus, at an extended location, or in the absence of a campus at all.


  1. Establish policies, procedures, and guidelines for servicing remote users, which build upon and complement existing library programs.
  2. Develop systems to identify, authenticate, and authorize members of the distance learning community in order to promote services, appropriately assist users, and allow valid users access to licensed resources.
  3. Assist in the provision of as many information resources and services as possible in electronic format to provide immediate, remote access.
  4. Plan the necessary computing support for the access of electronic library services to the distance learning community.
  5. Create and execute procedures for providing remote access to SMU’s print holdings.
  6. Provide timely reference and consultation services.
  7. Work with faculty in incorporating appropriate library resources into their distance learning courses, including course reserves.
  8. Develop library instruction programs, including information literacy instruction, which serve the unique needs of the distance community.
  9. Establish and promote reciprocal or contractual borrowing arrangements with consortia members or other unaffiliated libraries in order to supplement SMU’s holdings.
  10. Survey users about the effectiveness of the services offered and gather use statistics. Expand and modify services based on feedback input.

Targeted Users

CUL’s Distance Learning Library Services are available to students, staff, and faculty involved in for-credit, distance education coursework offered by the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Edwin L. Cox School of Business, Meadows School of the Arts, and School of Engineering and Applied Science. Distance education is defined as education where the teacher and students are separated by time or place.

Other eligible users include: SMU faculty on sabbatical, students registered in abstentia to finish a dissertation, participants in SMU courses abroad, or students attending an SMU location which is physically separate from the main campus.

Resources and Services


The Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web, will be the primary resource and service point for Distance Learning Library Services. Other technologies, both Internet-based (e.g. text-based chat and audio/video conferencing) and non-Internet-based (e.g. videoconferencing) will be explored and implemented when effective.

All library users may access SMU’s online catalog, <http://libcat.smu.edu/>, regardless of location. Other electronic resources will be available dependent on the nature of the product and the product’s licensing agreement. CUL will take a proactive approach in offering electronic products to distance users when feasible. CUL will work with Information Technology Services to implement authentication and authorization protocols in order to allow distance users access to license-restricted electronic resources.

Distance Learning Library Services will also assist in the development of library resource room facilities. These facilities will provide computers and network connections and act as a focal point for research and study at specific locations.

Access and Lending Services

All students enrolled in for-credit classes, as well as all SMU staff and faculty, are eligible to borrow materials from any SMU library. There may be additional restrictions for distance users if the item is rare, of high value, in high-demand, or possibly damaged by transmission or circulation. Circulation will be provided for CUL print materials when requested by distance users and will be sent directly to the user via a postal service barring any of the above restrictions. Journal articles and similar photocopied items will primarily be sent via the Internet. Regular postal service, telephone, fax, e-mail, Web delivery, and other common communication and delivery technologies will be used to deliver requested materials from the CUL collections. InterLibrary Loan will be available to distance users as they are to local users.


Reference and consultation services will primarily be provided through e-mail. Telephone and fax will be used when necessary. Other communication tools will be tested and may be used as well.

Used Education/Instruction

Distance Learning Library Services will create, maintain, and expand appropriate electronically based library orientation and instruction materials that will be accessible via the Internet. With the consultation of faculty, class-specific instructional materials may also be developed.

When groups of users are located in a remote campus, user education sessions or library orientation and instruction sessions will be given at the individual faculty member’s request.


Borrowing privileges will be available to SMU distance learners at other Texas academic libraries through the TexShare Library Card arrangement. Other partnerships will be explored and made available when feasible.

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