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Freshers Survival Guide:

Library & information services

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University libraries will loom large in your academic life. Many have merged with the university ICT service, to form integrated learning resource centres. Some of these are deliberately set up as study centres, with lots of seating, computer terminals and photocopiers and sometimes a café. Most are central, warm and welcoming, providing a haven for students living off-campus.

You will probably discover early on that the other students are all after the same books and articles as you are, just when you want them. So suss out the library early and get on top of its catalogues and reservation systems. The catalogue will probably be held electronically and you may be able to access it at home through the internet. Check which days the library is open (some hardly open at weekends, others are open 24/7). Work out ways of getting your hands on recommended texts and make sure you know how to photocopy them (there may be restrictions on how long you can borrow them). There will be an induction to show you how it all works. Don’t skip it.

University libraries operate at a completely different level to those that you are likely to be used to. Compare your school library with, say, that at University College London: it has 15 specialist libraries in addition to the main library; a total of 2 million volumes and nearly 15,000 periodicals; generous access to e-books, e-journals, databases and the main London University Library round the corner; and it spends £311 pa for each student. Of course, not all universities have, or need, that amount of library and information provision. Those specialising in eg art, dance or drama will concentrate on studios etc rather than library and IT resources. While the mean number of books per student is around 65, some universities have more than twice this figure, some less than half.

The amount that universities spend on all information provision varies hugely – ranging from £15−£425 pa for each full-time equivalent (FTE) student – and the mean spending is about £135 pa. This may be spent on books but increasingly on sophisticated online facilities eg e-journals, national databases, CD-Roms etc. Here are some of the highest and lowest spenders

£250+ spent annually per FTE student on information provision

Less than £50 spent annually per FTE student on information provision

Featured Universities

Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University

Location: Canterbury

Students: 19105

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Liverpool University

Location: Liverpool

Students: 21875

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