Distance Learning: Troubleshooting Online Access

This guide provides resources and helpful tips to support students in Distance Learning programs or online courses.

How it should work and how to get help

Log In

Most of the time remote access to library materials online will be easy! When you attempt to access a database or an article from the library's web site, you will be prompted to log in with your USC ID (the first part of your USC e-mail address) and password.

When you want to access an article or database you should see something like this:

USC Log In page

After logging in (a.k.a. "authenticating"), you should be directed automatically to the article, database or other electronic resource you wanted. 

RECOMMENDED: Don't wait. Sign into the USC Libraries homepage in the upper right hand corner when you first arrive. This connects your computer to our resources and minimizes the time you will have to log into databases.

Having trouble with remote access?

If you encounter a broken link or cannot get into a resource, you can do a few things first to make sure that there really is a problem.

  1. Check to see if you are logged into the USC Libraries homepage; Note: if you open your computer and find yourself signed in, try logging out and signing in again (there may be an issue with cookies).
  2. Reload the page.
  3. Make sure you have configured your browser to accept cookies. See these instructions for help.
  4. Wait a few minutes and try again. For some resources we have a limited number of simultaneous users. When the maximum number of users are logged in, you could be denied access. Often, instead of a message indicating the resource is busy, you simply will be denied access. We are currently working with our resource providers to amend the message with more specific information about maximum number of users reached.
  5. Change to a different browser and/or computer. This can help determine if the problem is the computer configuration, local cookies, or the electronic resource.
  6. You may be prompted for a username and password when none is required. This often is an indication that too many users are trying to access the resource at one time. Please wait a few minutes and try again.

If you still cannot get into the resource, please report the problem.

Find It @ USC

Look for Find it @ USC.

If the item you want to review is not immediately available, click the Find it @ USC button or link. Images of possible Find it @ USC buttons are below:

Find It @ USC

If you don't see a Find IT @ USC, check to see that your are logged into the database from USC.

Provided by USC

You can also check the URL to see if the libproxy is from USC.EDU


If not, go back to the USC Libraries homepage; make sure you're signed in and then click on the link to your database or journal.

When It is Not Available Online

When your materials are not available online, you can still get articles, chapters, and other items.

If you've tried the links and going through the journal or database options, use our Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery  (IDD) service. Some books and journal are only available in print and will need to be scanned and sent to you via PDF. Older items may also need to be ordered via IDD.

Library Proxy Server

Access to certain electronic resources and websites is restricted to the USC community (currently enrolled students, faculty and staff) due to licensing/copyright agreements with vendors and publishers. This page describes additional details about access to restricted content: https://libraries.usc.edu/remote-access-electronic-resources

When the Link Doesn't Work

When the Link Doesn't Work - Try a Different Approach

Sometimes you will find broken links, even though USC has paid for your access to that item.  Use the Report a Problem option, then try one of these options.

From the USC Libraries search, links to the full text should be found under: 

  • View it: Full text available at...
  • Links: View full text in...
  • Links: View record in... (This doesn't always work, but can take you into the website)

Journals: If you are having trouble accessing a journal article, try the following:

  • Note the citation information of your article
  • Access the journal: 
    • Search for the journal by title in the USC Libraries homepage  
    • OR Go to Journals (you can also access the Journals link from the USC Libraries homepage, under FIND); enter the journal title (or a portion of the title) in the search box and click the search icon
  • Where available, click on the phrase Online access; Otherwise, click on the title of the journal and then on the link after: View it: Full text available at...
  • Look for "Browse All Issues", then search for your citation first by year, then by volume, issue and/or page number

Note: in this case, "journals" includes journals, magazines, newspapers, and some annual reports. 

Other items: If a link to a non-journal item does not work, you will need to do a database search: 

  • Note the citation information
  • Go to Databases (you can also access the Databases link from the USC Libraries homepage)
  • Use the search box (enter then database name and click Go)  or browse feature to look for the database (if it is not in Quicklinks)
  • Click on the title of the Database (from your search results or Quicklinks)
  • Search for the item in the database by using the title, author and/or other citation information

Please use the Report a Problem link to let us know it needs to be fixed.