Within your first few weeks at University it is likely that your faculty will arrange a tour of the library.

Although unlikely to be the most radical experience of your University career, it’s worth going on one of these tours. Most students think libraries are self-evident but without knowing the full services your University libraries offer, you’re unlikely to make the most of your degree. Follow these five tips to give yourself a head start.

Meet the Librarians

Your University Libraries will have a team of specialist librarians you can call on. Far more than mere book locators, librarians are very knowledgeable people, some of whom are published academics with their own subject specialisms. As well as exploring with you what books or resources you mind find useful for your assignments, you can ask librarians for their advice on selecting topics for presentations or for suggestions on which journals or articles may be appropriate.

Register with Open Athens

An Open Athens account will provide you with access to the journals and articles your University subscribes to. Initial registration can be completed online via http://www.openathens.net/. If your University Library doesn’t stock a publication you require, you may request it, or approach your faculty to see if they’ll fund it. Alternatively, use websites such as http://www.worldcat.org/ to locate books and journal articles your library doesn’t stock.

Locate Subject Specific Resources

University Libraries are categorised by subject so it’s worth checking out the areas which you’ll be using the most. Journals and articles are often kept separate and should not be overlooked; typically these should be selected appropriately if you are aiming to achieve a high 2:1 or even a first. Don’t forget as well that your library will offer a range of resources online and it’s worth saving the Library homepage in your favourites. Increasing amounts of data is kept in electronic format and it’s worth exploring what technology your University uses.

Purchase a Photocopying Card

Most University libraries charge a small amount for photocopying. Usually cards can be purchased and topped up with credit and it’s handy to have one. Some reference books are never loaned and therefore have to be copied, although bear in mind the rules and regulations pinned up by all machines.

Return Books Promptly

Dashing to the University Library to pick up the only copy of an essential text is a disheartening experience when you get there to find the last borrower has forgotten to return it. As well as to avoid fines, returning resources on times means your fellow students can also a range of resources – and if you believe in karma, the book you need won’t be there the next time you forget to return yours. Some Universities also withhold degrees if students owe money, and this includes library fines.

Hopefully by following these five tips you’ll be able to make the full use of your University Library, and it won’t be the building you spent two years walking past.

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