Is there an update on access to campus libraries and any funding available to reimburse research-related expenses?

Date: June 2020


Hello Deans,

The ongoing public health emergency and closing of many campus services has interrupted many aspects of our lives, and understandably much of this is outside the control of the Graduate School. While this is undoubtedly not the gravest of issues in this time, one of the things that has been challenging for me, and I am sure many graduate students, is the loss of normal library services. Obviously there is the loss of the physical space which is an inconvenience that I hope and trust is being discussed in campus re-opening strategies, but I have not heard an update on it in a while. If you have anything to share about this, please let us know.

Another issue is the inability to check out physical resources. I understand the library has increased access to some online collections, and I have been able to access some of the books I need to complete my A exam through these online sources. However, I also experienced challenges with these services as some books still aren’t available or those that are have time limits on checkout. I was getting logged out and unable to reload one source, a problem which continued for several days until I finally broke down and purchased the book. This was perhaps due to connectivity issues or limits to the number of people who can be accessing some of these sources at a time. In addition, physical books are just much more convenient in this time while we are finding new places to work that do not have the extensive WiFi access of campus. While articles are often available for download, the online books I have needed are only available with an active connection. So far book purchases since campus closure have cost me about $90 (plus lost time for frustration and delivery), and I imagine I am not the only person facing this extra expense or things like it. I am sure the loss of campus computer access or software installed on library computers has also been costly for many students, depending on the resources people need, which could be much higher than I have experienced so far. Are there any funds available for these types of extra expenses available to graduate students during this time? 


Avid Library User


Dear Avid Library User,

Thank you for your Ask a Dean question. You may be aware that Cornell, like other higher education institutions within this region of New York State, has been cleared for a phased re-opening of certain types of on-campus activities. The first phase focuses on reactivating on-campus research in several specific areas. Reactivating university library services, in a phased approach with some resources becoming available before others, will also begin soon. Watch for university announcements and periodic COVID-19 updates.

I am sorry to learn of your frustrations resulting from purchasing books that would normally be available in the library.  Presumably you worked with the CU Library staff to make sure that there are not more cost-effective ways to get the online books that you need. The Library’s services are best encapsulated on the enhanced online resources and other COVID-19 updates page.

The university is not able to offset all COVID-related costs that students have experienced but the financial aid office may be able to provide educational loans for expenses such as increased expenses for books, a computer purchase, housing, or living expenses. If you are experiencing acute financial hardships such as housing or food insecurity you may also submit an application to the Cornell Access Fund. The goal of this fund is to provide enrolled full-time undergraduate, graduate, and professional Cornell students with access to financial support, up to $500, to help mitigate educational barriers, access basic necessities, and cover emergency expenses not covered through financial aid or other university resources. Understanding the impact that your book expenses have on your overall budget will be helpful in determining which of these paths would be available to you. This Access Fund will open again on June 1 and may be an option for you if the additional expenses qualify as emergency needs.

The Library continues to manage a laptop loaning program. Contact Library Public Services ( for more information.

I hope you are also availing yourself of assistance from Ask a Librarian, who may be able to help advise on how best to access the research and A exam preparation items you need.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Dean of the Graduate School