This article from the Chronicle is one of the many reasons I’m a proponent of Open Access. Patterson explains how not having access to digital databases has made her research more difficult. She also explains how some researchers simply abandon certain areas because access to materials that would support those areas are non-existent at their home institution. She sums this problem up nicely at the end:
the digital divide between the ivory-tower haves and have-nots will be a defining one for our generation of scholars. It exacerbates inequalities already present and makes it that much harder for scholars hoping to enter the larger intellectual debate on an equal footing.
I’d say this is true for students as well, both undergrad and grad. Go read the whole thing. It’s worth it.