Hopefully you’ve made it to your university library by now – maybe to grab a book for your course or buy a coffee. But are you really making the most of it? There are tons of resources and services in there that will make studying easier and get you better grades. Find out more in our guide.
Find your space
Most people think of libraries as dusty, boring places where you get shouted at for thinking too loudly. They may indeed have been like this 30 years ago, but today’s university libraries are all about working how you like when you like.
Yes, there will be areas where you have to work silently – and for some people that will be just what they need to nail that essay – but you’ll also find sofas where you can curl up with a book or talk things through with a friend. There might also be group study rooms you can book – perfect for getting together on a project.
You aren’t restricted to working nine to five either. In term time most university libraries will be open 24 hours a day, so night owls can work in peace at midnight and early risers can get a couple of hours in before lectures.
Do your research the 21st century way
You do research online all the time – from cinema times to new music, or what to eat for tea. So why restrict yourself to books older than you are when it comes to your uni work?
Don’t go mad on Google or Wikipedia though – instead head over to your library website. Here you’ll find all the latest ebooks to read online or download. There are also thousands of academic journal articles, which are bang up to date and mercifully short.
You can access online resources without even leaving your sofa, and they’re much easier to search and filter than the paper stuff. Your library website will have a special search engine that can sift through thousands of digital books, articles and chapters in seconds.
Get hold of pretty much ANY book
It’s really annoying when you discover a really helpful-sounding book, only to find that your library doesn’t stock it – this is where inter-library loans come in. For a small charge (normally a quid or so) you can get a copy sent to you from another library somewhere in the country. Many will come from the British Library in London, which with 170 million items is the biggest library in the world!
And if there’s a popular book that the library owns but you can never get your hands on, why not ask them to buy a couple more copies for you? A decent chunk of your tuition fees goes to the library’s budget, and they’re generally happy to take requests and suggestions on how to spend it.
Scan, copy and print to your heart’s content
You may not use the library computers much, but their printers and copiers will come in handy from time to time. Scan useful bits of books and email them to yourself as a PDF to keep or make copies of old exam papers to help you revise. There will also be facilities to print, including full colour and large paper sizes. Just make sure you don’t burn through your credit too quickly!
In many libraries you will also find services such as laminating and binding, for when you want your work to look extra impressive.
Ask for help
The step from school or college work to university work is a big one – suddenly you’re expected to manage your own time, do your own research, and write lengthy essays stuffed with fiddly-looking footnotes. Everyone takes a while to get used to it, but if you’re struggling to find your feet you can find help at your library.
From workshops on how to reference correctly, to advice on academic-style writing, most university libraries now offer support with the transition. Take a look at your uni’s library website for more information.
And don’t forget, the staff are on hand to help you find your way around the resources too – so if you can’t find that pesky book or have no idea where to start with your research, just ask!
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