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I recently took courses from several different schools, with different semesters in different parts of the US. When visiting the schools' library Web sites, I noticed that each offered a similar "search all resources link" with a login, eventually leading to EBSCO. I expected the significantly larger and more expensive university to offer more "premium" access. I could not find any difference in the available results and down-loadable articles from one institution or the other. Do nearly all schools pay for nearly the same access? Can I expect nearly all schools to use EBSCO and the search results for electronic resources to be identical at each institution?

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Short answer is no.

Although EBSCO appears to be ubiquitous, the level of access you can find across ALL schools definitely varies. As undergrads at a community college, my classmates and I would occasionally visit nearby university libraries just to access their larger online databases. Not only did they subscribe to more databases, they also had greater levels of access than my home institution.

Community colleges may be somewhat of an outlier in this respect because of their typically limited funding/resources. Across other institutions-of-higher-learning, you can expect greater similarity in the databases provided at the general level. However, many institutions, or colleges within them, will have a specialty focus and will provide access to journals specific to that specialty. Those specialty journals are not available across all institutions, especially those with limited funding.

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