As a Distance-Ed student, you are entitled to use the UWM Libraries' resources all year round. We will ship physical materials to you, you have logon access to all of the Libraries' databases and full InterLibrary Loan access for articles (which are usually delivered electronically), and our reference services are always available to you through email, live chat, or phone.
However, there may be times when using a local library and its resources will serve you better. Sometimes there can be a real advantage to being able to look the librarians in the eye as you ask your questions and/or being able to check a book out immediately rather than waiting for UWM to send our copy to you.
So, don't forget that wherever you live there is a local library, and with it professional librarians who will help you. It may be a public library where you can get a library card for free - and if you're in a big city like New York or Boston, they have professional subject specialist librarians who can help you. It may be an academic library where you're welcome to use resources 'in-house' and ask questions of the librarians. Most academic libraries have some form of 'Friends of the Library' which gives you library borrowing privileges in exchange for an annual membership fee. For example - UWM's is only $55 for the base membership and it permits card holders to check out up to 30 things for the same loan period as an undergraduate. Searching WorldCat.org with your location 'turned on' will help you locate materials that are close by (see below).
I've created a guide for Milwaukee-area musicians who are not affiliated with an institution that has library resources like UWM's, and it might be a good guide for you to take a look at to get ideas of what sorts of things you can look for in your geographic area. This is the link for it
WorldCat.org is a free interface to the database OCLC WorldCat which libraries use to share cataloging records and loan materials to one another through InterLibrary Loan. Each library that owns an item tags the record in the database so that other libraries know that they own it. This is the free version of what we provide access to through our link to WorldCat in the Libraries A-to-Z pages, but this is very useful for non-affiliated people and if you just want to do a quick search without logging - they even have a mobile version and an iPhone app. You can search for materials in local libraries, or distant ones, and then use that information to go pick it up yourself or place an InterLibrary Loan request through your local library.
This is what the main screen looks like
A search for a recording of Edward MacDowell retrieved this and you'll see that UW-Milwaukee owns this