Scotland's pioneering Institute for System Level Integration has joined forces with two of its member universities to give students desktop access to a library of more than 500,000 articles.
The ISLI brings together the research and teaching strengths in electronics and computing of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde universities and its own academic and design experts.
It has formed a consortium with Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt to give 2,600 electronics and science students and staff access to IEL, the world's largest online library for electronics and information technology.
These are the first Scottish institutions to have access to IEL, developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
Michael Breaks, Heriot-Watt's librarian, said: "This has increased by a thousand-fold the amount of information that students and staff have access to."
Mr Breaks said none of the partners could have afforded the deal on their own, but their students were now in almost the same position as those in institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, which had extensive libraries.
"They would probably have access to all the material in print form, but we are able to provide our users with access to the same amount of material in electronic form, and they don't physically have to come to the library," he said.
"This will give them a much deeper understanding of the scope of the literature that's available. It's not like search engines such as Google or Yahoo, which give access to unreferenced material. This is quality material, quality journals that are peer reviewed."
IEL, compiled by top professional bodies in the United States and the United Kingdom, has copies of more than 2 million pages of articles with original diagrams, charts and pictures.
Students and researchers can use PCs to search for articles. Secure passwords allow access whether the students are working in the university libraries, in labs or at home.
Sian Williams, ISLI information officer, said: "As a postgraduate institution at the forefront of developments in electronic chip design, ISLI supports its students with excellent resources. Our students are expected to undertake a significant amount of research in addition to reading the standard bibliographies provided by their tutors.
"Accessing the vast resources of the IEL library online provides a very efficient means of undertaking research for project assignments."