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First-time Users

Welcome to NSDL. This page provides information to help new users who are relatively unfamiliar with digital libraries or NSDL.

Where Do I Start?

Quick Start

We've simplified NSDL's user interface to be as easy to use as possible. Quick-Start: You can immediately start your search by entering any search term in the Search box. You have options to refine your search by education level, resource type, subject - and you can make these selections either before (refine first), or after you click the Search button (refine as you go).

Basic Digital Library Use

  • Search or Browse to Locate Resources
    NSDL organizes information about a wide range of resources that are located at sites across the Internet. Users can discover these materials through keyword searches on, which can be filtered further by education level, resource type, or subject area. Or users can browse NSDL collections (alphabetical list of collections in NSDL); view graphically the number of and distribution of all resources in NSDL across four different categories: education level, resource type, subject, and audience; or view resources associated with the Math Common Core and ELA Common Core.
  • Select Relevant Resources
    Entering a keyword in the Search box returns information about relevant materials that match the information requested in your search (Search results). Resource information generally includes the title, a snippet of the item's full description, the resource type, subject areas, and a link to the website where the material is actually located. Following the Learn more about this resource link provides the full description of the resource, including rights and restrictions information (where available), and more information about the collection containing the resource. Details about each collection that contains the resource can be viewed by clicking on the collection logo.
  • Access a Resource from the Resource Provider
    NSDL does not own or store the resources to which we provide access. NSDL holds information about resources and collection providers maintain the resources at their own websites. When an item is selected from a list of search results or other link, the user leaves the NSDL website and accesses the site of the resource provider or owner. In many cases, items in the NSDL collections may be part of another digital library that is aggregating the resource from another provider. NSDL is not responsible for the content or upkeep of sites that host any material; however, we do try to keep our links current.
  • Rights and Restrictions
    NSDL does not own or store the resources to which we provide access. All applicable copyrights and permissions for use are held by the resource owner. When copyright information has been provided to NSDL, it can be viewed through the Learn more about this resource link on each search result. For the most accurate and current information for all resources, it is best to contact the resource provider to verify permission for use. While the majority of resource items in NSDL are available to anyone at no cost, some collections require a login that may or may not be free, while others have costs associated with access. NSDL does not collect any fees or receive any money from resource providers that offer fee-based materials.
  • Use, Link To, or Download Resources
    The most common way to use NSDL resources is to share the URL with students or colleagues, or to save it for personal reference. Animations, videos, and other multimedia items can often be downloaded for use on individual computers or for inclusion into presentation software such as PowerPoint.

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