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Library Services for Chemistry Faculty Members: At the Chemistry Library

Using the Chemistry Library

Library Keys

Library keys are available to current Chemistry department faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students. These keys will allow you to access the current and bound journal collections twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To sign out a library key, please see Judith Currano or Robert Harris in the Chemistry Library on any weekday between 9AM and 4:45PM.

Proxy Borrowers

Don't have time (or don't want) to visit the library in person to collect your materials? Up to 5 Penn people can be designated as proxy borrowers for you. You and your administrative assistant or student simply need to fill out and sign the Faculty Proxy Borrower Registration form, and we will set them up as a proxy borrower for you.  This means that you can send them up to the library to collect your books, and we'll charge the materials directly to your card so that you can self-renew.  Members of the standing faculty can also designate a non-Penn spouse or partner as a proxy borrower, allowing your spouse or partner to make use of Penn's collections and have his or her materials charged to your account.

Reserving Space in the Library

The Chemistry Library has a number of spaces that can be reserved for meetings, interviews, office hours, or student examinations.

  • Two small-group study rooms: Seat 4 people each, with a white board, a computer, and a wall-mount LCD display
  • "Quiet" conference room: Seats 6-8 people, with white boards, a computer (keyboard and mouse must be requested at the desk), and a state-of-the-art A/V display
  • Computer lab: Seats 8 people, plus an instructor, with PC computers containing software needed for chemical science research
  • Tables in the main collaboration room or the quiet rear room of the library

If you want to reserve space, please contact the Chemistry Library staff (215-898-2177;


Services to Support Your Teaching


Penn Libraries maintain Canvas, Penn's online course management system.  For assistance using Canvas in Chemistry courses, please contact either Judith Currano or the Canvas support team.

Classes, Presentations, and Trainings

  • Contact Judith Currano (215-746-5886, to schedule a presentation for your class or research group about information resources and strategies of searching for chemical information. Possible topics include:
    • teaching students to use chemical information resources to locate peer-reviewed research and to evaluate their results.
    • teaching students to locate physical properties and spectra of compounds needed for their lab work.
    • presenting instruction or information sessions on newly acquired resources or on new features and releases of familiar databases.
    • reviewing current awareness search techniques.
  • Encourage your students to attend a Chemistry Library Training Seminar.  Seminars on various information resources or techniques of searching are offered regularly.

Course Reserves

  • To have course materials, readings, problem set solutions, etc. scanned and uploaded to your course web site or Canvas site, contact Judith Currano (215-746-5886,
  • To have books and other materials placed on reserve for your students, contact Nat Bender, Library Specialist (215-573-6732, (
  • If the Chemistry Library does not own material that you would like to place on reserve, we are happy to purchase it for our collection. Contact Judith Currano (215-746-5886, with purchase requests.

Other Services

The Chemistry Library supports student learning in other ways. We are happy to cooperate with you in any of the following areas.

  • Creating web-based resource pages to assist with research and completion of assignments.
  • Incorporating information literacy/lifelong learning competencies into your course and assignments.
  • Teaching students proper methods of scholarly documentation.
  • Suggesting books on technical writing, creating posters, and making presentations.

Services To Support Your Research

Using Electronic Information Resources

Explore our digital databases, e-journals, e-books, e-reference works, and more. Click here for an overview of electronic sci-tech holdings at Penn, or view a selection of chemistry specific resources.

Training seminars covering a variety of databases and other electronic products are offered regularly by the Chemistry Library so that you can learn to use new products and update your strategies and workflows in familiar tools. These trainings are targeted specifically to Penn's chemical science researchers.  If you would like to suggest a topic for a seminar, please contact Judith Currano (215-746-5886;

Personalized Search Assistance

One-on-one personalized research consultations/orientations are available to you in your office or at the library. Contact Judith Currano, Head of the Chemistry Library, at (215) 746-5886 or to set up an appointment or if you are having any problems searching for or obtaining materials.  Judith is also happy to attend your group meeting to speak to your students and post-docs about information retrieval and responsible conduct of research.

Obtaining Books, Journal Articles, and Conference Papers

Even if the Chemistry Library does not have the information that you need, we can get it for you from another campus location or another university's library.

  • FacultyEXPRESS delivers requested materials electronically or to your departmental office, for all standing faculty.

  • Penn Library Delivers items from other campus libraries to the Chemistry Library for your convenient pick-up.

  • BorrowDirect+ is an "expedited interlibrary loan" service that lets you search a combined catalog and directly request books not currently available at Penn; most books arrive within 3-5 working days. The University of Pennsylvania participates in two borrowing consortia: Borrow Direct searches the catalogs of major research institutions; and EZ-Borrow searches the catalogs of over 60 Pennsylvania and other local libraries.

  • Interlibrary Loan: If you need a book or journal article that neither Penn nor any of its Borrow Direct partners owns, the Library's Inter-library Loan department will be happy to help you obtain it in a timely fashion, sometimes even the same day!

  • Purchase Requests: If the Chemistry Library lacks a critical text or reference item in your area of research, we will consider purchasing it for our collection. Contact Judith Currano (215-746-5886, with purchase requests.

Plagiarism/Self-Plagiarism Checking

Penn licenses a service called iThenticate to check research work for plagiarism or self-plagiarism (also called text-recycling or dual publication.)  This service is available to any Penn researcher who is an author of a research document, such as a journal article, conference paper, or dissertation.  In order to use iThenticate, please follow these steps.

  • Request an iThenticate account by contacting the Courseware Support team at
  • Log into iThenticate with your iThenticate credentials.
  • Either establish a folder into which to upload your document or choose the default folder.  You have the option of specifying how the system should handle things like quoted text, references, and short matches.  Make sure that the preferences and parameters on the folder are set the way that you want them.
  • Upload your document to the desired folder.  The system will create an originality report, based on a comparison with published material and other material that appears in your iThenticate account.  Please note that your account is a black-box and that other people's work is not compared to your unpublished documents.
  • Review the originality report carefully.  iThenticate has been known to flag commonly used turns of phrase, as well as the names of commissions, committees, associations, and published works that appear in the main text of the document.
  • If desired, you may add other iThenticate users as readers on your folders so that they can see your originality reports.  They cannot upload documents or change parameters on these folders, though.

For more information about using iThenticate or if you have any other questions about publication ethics, please contact Judith Currano.

STN Substructure Searching

Can't find a preparation for the compound you want? Interested in finding a compound with a similar structure to your target molecule?  SciFinder and Reaxys will not let you find what you're looking for? Substructure searching on the STN interface to Chemical Abstracts and other databases is available to current Penn affiliates only after 5PM on most weekdays.

Please make an appointment with Judith Currano at least two days in advance by calling (215) 746-5886 or by e-mailing

Meet your librarian

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Judith Currano
1973 Wing, Chemistry Laboratories

Judith Currano has been the head of Penn's Chemistry Library since 1999.  She holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and English from the University of Rochester, where she did research in the lab of Bob Boeckmann, and a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Judith's research interests include effective teaching techniques in chemical information, techniques of organizing and retrieving structural data, research and publication ethics, and how chemists interact with the primary journal literature.  She currently chairs both the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre and the ACS Committee on Ethics; she is active in ACS, the Special Libraries Association, and the Penn Women in Chemistry group; and she edits one issue per year of the Chemical Information Bulletin.

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