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I work as a public school teacher. Due to a lack of current textbooks in my niche subject area, I am working on writing my own textbook which I hope to publish next year. In the meantime, and unrelated to this, I enrolled half-time in some college courses.

Being enrolled in the college courses means I have access to the state university's research tools, librarians, inter-library loan program, etc. I think I can get better assistance from the librarians if I am open about what exactly I am doing, however, it has no relation to the college courses I am taking. Can I be open about why I am doing the research, borrowing books and journals via inter-library loans or is this regarded as a misuse of those state-funded resources? How do university staff generally feel about assisting people with research not really related to the college?

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    Can any member of the general public become a customer/member/... of the library? Can you have the bills for inter-library loans put to you personally? Nov 10, 2020 at 20:24
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    (There may be a totally different issue in that your employer may own IP rights to the textbook even if you write it during your free time - obviously depending on legislation, but you better make sure. E.g. where I am that would be true for software.) Nov 10, 2020 at 20:26
  • My junior high history teacher took us to our local R1 and checked out all the books we wanted for an extracurricular project. You could ask ahead of time, but typically I would think the libraries would be happy to help. Nov 12, 2020 at 19:23

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In the US and some other places there will be laws (at the State level) and regulations about use of resources in general, but for the things you suggest there should be no issues.

But this is because the libraries, in particular, at universities serve as a general public resource of information. You could probably get the same services even if not enrolled just by asking for assistance.

There might be exceptions, but for most universities the mission is varied and broad. A university is more than just a place where students are taught and more than just a place where research is done.

As long as nothing you do actually interferes with any of the missions (and sometimes even if you do), the resources are open to you and, it is citizen taxes that support much of it in any case.

Feel free.


The cases where you might run afoul of regulations would more likely be in the use of specific equipment purchased for one thing but used for something else.

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  • There might also be restrictions with what you're allowed to do with software licenses you procure through the university (e.g. student copies of Microsoft Office connected to your student email).
    – nick012000
    Nov 11, 2020 at 10:44

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