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Using Electronic Resources

Commonly Reported Problems and Solutions

If you are encountering an access problem, please review the suggestions below to see if there is an easy solution.


Access denied

The Penn Libraries may not subscribe to the content that you wish to use. In many cases, we do not subscribe to all of the publications that a publisher offers on a site or to all of the years or issues of a particular journal on that site.  

  • To double check book holdings, do a title search in the Franklin Catalog.   
  • For journals, do a journal title keyword search in the Franklin Catalog on the name of the journal to check if the Library has access.
  • You could also try adding the proxy prepend to the URL (https://proxy.library.upenn.edu/login?&url=).  

If the Library does not provide access to the item that you need, please use BorrowDirect / EZBorrow / Interlibrary Loan to request the material from another Library.


Full-text link in Franklin Articles+ or the PennText link in a database goes to another database but does not connect to the specific article

Sometimes a match might fail because the issue, volume, page number is incorrect or the article is not available in the target database.  In these cases, try a title search in the Franklin Catalog on the name of the journal and, if available, connect to the individual article within the journal.  Similarly, you can double check our book holdings through the Franklin Catalog.

In other cases, such as for Factiva, it is not possible for our systems to link directly to an article within a database. In these cases, it is necessary to go directly into the database and search for the specific item.

If you cannot locate the article easily, request the item through our Interlibrary loan services.


Blank Screen

Generally, when you access a website, the information sent with the request includes both cookies and the desired URL. Sometimes, when a lot of cookies accumulate or the URL is very long, the request fails. In this case, try another browser or delete cookies. If you do not want to delete all browsing data, you can clear the *.upenn.edu cookies. More on deleting cookies.


Asked for another login/password

If you are being asked for a non Pennkey login and password, you may be behind a firewall.  A firewall controls incoming and outgoing network traffic and can prevent off-campus access to Library electronic resources.  EZproxy uses IP ports in the range of 2048 - 13000. If you are accessing licensed library resources from a network which does not allow access to these IP ports, they will not be able to use EZproxy.​ Options are to use a computer outside of the firewall or request that the IT administrator  of the school or company allow access to the EZproxy range of IP ports. You can also circumvent the proxy server and associated firewall issues by using a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN).  Check your Penn school or department for more information on available VPN services.


400 error: Bad Request

This error usually indicates that either the URL is malformed and the receiving server (remote computer) cannot interpret it or the URL and cookies are too long and the server cannot interpret them.  Check to make sure the URL is correct.  Also consider deleting browser cookies.  


EZproxy Administrator Error Message: To allow [URL] to be used in a starting point URL, your EZproxy administrator must first authorize the hostname of the URL in the config.txt file.

In this case, the resource has not yet been setup to work with EZproxy. If you are on campus and the URL contains the word “proxy,” remove the EZproxy prepend ( https://proxy.library.upenn.edu/login?) from the URL and try to connect. If you are off campus, please report this problem to elecacqu@pobox.upenn.edu.


All sessions are in use

A small number of library resources have a limited number of simultaneous users and the maximum number of users may be logged in.   Try again in a few minutes.


The user is not authorized in Alma.

Alma is the Penn Library’s Integrated Library System (ILS), where we store order and purchasing information, catalog works, maintain user accounts, and execute library transactions. In order to borrow items from the Penn Libraries, one must have a patron account in Alma. For electronic resource access, Alma uses patron account information to check Penn affiliation and eligibility to access to licensed materials.

The chief reason this message appears is that there is no patron account in Alma (our ILS) under your name. This is commonly true for our courtesy borrowers, whose patron information must be automatically loaded into our system manually. This is also the case for many Medical Center staff.  

If you receive this message, contact the Van Pelt Circulation Desk - by email (vpcircdk@pobox.upenn.edu), by phone (215-898-7566), or in person - to determine whether or not you have a patron account.  If you do have a patron account, staff will also determine whether or not it is blocked and/or expired. If you are Medical Center staff (HUP, CHOP, or UPHS), we encourage you to contact the Biomedical Library at (215) 898-5818 or  https://faq.library.upenn.edu/ask.

If you continue to experience problems after reading our troubleshooting help, please complete this E-Resource Problem Report Form.