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Library Information for International Students : Overview

Overview of University of Wisconsin-Madison libraries, with an emphasis on the needs of international students.


Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison!   We are glad you're here!  We hope your time at UW-Madison will be rewarding, academically, professionally, and personally.

This guide will introduce you to the UW-Madison's library system. 

Libraries' mission

The mission of the UW-Madison Libraries is to support excellence in teaching, research and learning by providing resources, services and spaces that help to ensure the success of our students, faculty, and staff.


UW-Madison Libraries are the 11th largest research collection in North America. The Libraries serve over 4 million visitors a year and our collections include:

  • More than 7.3 million printed volumes
  • 55,000 serial titles
  • 6.2 million microforms
  • 160 linear feet of manuscripts
  • Over 7 million items in other formats, including government documents, maps, musical scores and more

The campus is served by over 40 libraries, including Memorial Library, the largest library in Wisconsin, and numerous subject, professional and special purpose libraries.

The Libraries also provide

Beyond numbers

Other things to know about campus collections:

  • Materials are from around the world
  • Materials are  in a variety of languages, from Spanish and Chinese to Acoli and Navajo
  • The Libraries have at least a few materials on all of the 100+ subjects the university teaches, from accounting to zoology
  • The age of materials ranges from several centuries old to published as recently as the current year
  • Sometimes the Libraries own multiple editions of the same book, and in some cases, editions in different languages
  • The Libraries usually do not purchase current textbooks



Library staff are here to help you!

You can ask the information professionals questions about search strategies, library services and collections, and more.  We answer questions in-person, or by chat, email, or phone.  We may not have an answer for every question, but we can usually direct you to a person or office with an answer.

Subject librarians can help you with more in-depth research questions. 

If you are an instructor, our teaching and learning services can help with

  • Course-related library instruction sessions
  • Web-based tutorials
  • Assignment design, syllabus enrichment, and curriculum consultations
  • Print and electronic materials placed on reserve for students in your course

Find more about getting help on the Help tab of this guide.