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All you need to know about the library

You may not believe it at the moment but the library is an important part of university life. Whether you simply use it occasionally to borrow books, or pull all-nighters during the run up to exams, everyone will pass through those revolving doors at some point or other. We spoke to Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator and the Liaison Librarian for Education, and asked her a few of the questions that, as Freshers, you may well be thinking.


“I’ve never actually used an academic library before and I have no idea how to find my way around – help!?”

Don’t panic! The University Library may look bigger and more daunting than any you have used before, but there are many ways to learn how to use it effectively, saving you time and worry!

  • Book an hour’s ‘Finding your way’ session in Welcome Week and Week 1 where you will learn about, and practice, using the Library catalogue to find a book.
  • Come to the University Library Fair on 2 October to find out where your resources will be and collect freebies from information providers.
  • Try our short Blackboard LibLearn tutorials at www.reading.ac.uk/library/liblearn
  • See what it is like to use the Library and hear students’ views in short videos at www.reading.ac.uk/library/videos
  • Read the webpage for new Library users www.reading.ac.uk/library/new
  • Or, when you need it, just ask for help at a Library information Desk, ring or email us.


 “How am I supposed to know which of the books will help me most?”

Your tutors usually begin by giving you reading lists, indicating ‘essential’, ‘recommended’ or background reading.  So more students can have a turn at seeing them, the Library puts most needed items in the ‘Course Collection’ with a 6-hour or overnight loan period. Other important items may be limited to a 7-day loan.  Lesser-used reading can usually be borrowed for three weeks (subject to recall ie another reader asking for it back). Tell us if you think material on your list needs to have a shorter loan period so you can all see it. Our guide to Understanding your reading list should help you understand which words to use to find the items in the Library. www.reading.ac.uk/library/finding-info/guides/lib-understanding-readlists.aspx

When searching for material yourself, try the ‘Help in your subject’ section on our website www.reading.ac.uk/library or ask your subject liaison librarian for advice: www.reading.ac.uk/library/liaison.


“Should I be buying everything on my reading list?”

Do make as much use of our printed and electronic resources as you can – the cost is covered in your fees. However, it may be useful to buy your own copy of textbooks used throughout the course. See our guide to buying books: www.reading.ac.uk/library/finding-info/guides/lib-buying-books.aspx

If later you need articles or books not at Reading in your research, we can source them through our Inter-Library loans services or help you visit other Libraries: www.reading.ac.uk/library/beyond-uor

How many books can I borrow and for how long?”

Most undergraduates can borrow up to 15 loans at once. You can take most books for three weeks (standard loan). High-demand material is 7-day or 6-hour loan and you can take fewer of these out. Full details are on our website:



The Liaison Librarians

  “I have seen plenty of computers at the library but are there spaces for me to use my own laptop?”

You can plug laptops into power surge-protected power sockets in designated areas. New for 2013 are sockets beside each refurbished study spaces on the 2nd Floor and by Christmas on the 5th Floor. Elsewhere, please use battery power.


“Does the library have wi-fi?”

There is wireless coverage throughout the building. However, the large metal bookshelves can affect the signal strength in certain areas. Logon with your University username followed by @reading.ac.uk and password. More info at www.reading.ac.uk/eduroam


“I thought the library was somewhere I didn’t really need to visit until exam time?”

Some students might not visit the Library often but use material we provide online: e-books, e-journals and databases via our website or reading we scanned for your Blackboard courses. However, publishers still only produce a lot of information in print and sourcing it at the Library could gain you vital marks and save you money. Many students find the Library a productive place with its quiet and collaborative study areas throughout the year. Yes, the Library is exceptionally popular at exam revision time but the Uni does provide other rooms for study too. You will do best in your exams if you have put in the work throughout your course and we can help you with that.


“What else does the library have to offer?”

Don’t struggle on your own. The Library is the place to come for advice on realising your best work. Whilst your tutors are experts in their field ….

Besides all this, the Library offers you daily newspapers, recreational reading and a café. Come along. Everyone else is here!

About Sophie Harrison

Sophie is a third year English Literature student and was the Editor of Spark* between November 2012 and November 2013.

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