UCL Library Services

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Getting Started

Images representing some of the getting started categories

Which library should I use?

A valid UCL ID card will allow access to any of the UCL Libraries, several of which are located on the central Bloomsbury campus:

Main Library

Art, Classics, Economics, English, History, Hebrew & Jewish Studies, Law, Modern Languages, Philosophy and Public Policy

Science Library

Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Geography, Library, Archive and Information Studies, Life Sciences, Management, Mathematics, Medical Sciences, Physics and Psychology

Bartlett Library

Architecture and Town Planning

Institute of Archaeology Library

Archaeology and Egyptology

Cruciform Library

General Clinical and Medical Sciences

School of Slavonic & East European Studies Library

Eastern, South-Eastern, and Central Europe, the Baltic States, Russia and the former Soviet Union

Information on opening hours, and details of libraries located away from the central campus are available.

You can also find the libraries using the general UCL maps

Where do I find resources for my subject?

There is a guide for each subject giving information about resources that might be useful for studying that subject area.

Each subject has a specialist librarian who can help you use the library and electronic resources.

Your induction programme will probably include a tour of the relevant library and/or a talk by the librarian.

Your librarian may also offer subject-specific training later in the term or give a lecture as part of one of your courses.

More information on training and support is available

How do I find books?

Search Explore to find books in our libraries (select ‘Library catalogue’ from the 'In resource' drop-down menu).

The easiest way to search for a book is to enter author surnames and two or three key words from the title.

Location information is given in Explore – a library site, subject collection and a classmark will help you find material on the library shelves.

If the item you want is not on loan but you can't find it on the shelf, please see our advice about where to look if it is 'Available' or has the status 'Shelving' in Explore.

We have a growing number of e-books: click 'view online' when you find the book in Explore.

You can search Explore from any PC, laptop or other mobile device and there are also dedicated access terminals in the libraries. More information about Explore will help you get started. Guides are available to help you find material and staff can help you in all our libraries.

You may have online reading lists for your courses (your course tutors will tell you more). These have details of material that you may need to read before lectures or seminars. There are links to online material or links to Explore for location information.

How do I get online?

Use your UCL username and password to access resources at UCL such as UCL email, a range of software, the internet and electronic resources such as e-books, e-journals etc. 

More information about getting connected is available on the webpages for new students.

The Bloomsbury campus has WiFi throughout (as well as in the libraries). There are also computer workrooms all over the campus and you can view the current availability of PCs.

Your username and password will become valid for using electronic resources after your enrolment process is completed.

What about electronic resources?

As well as printed books, journals and audio visual materials, Library Services provides access to a wide range of electronic resources, including:

A range of databases will allow you to find journal articles, images, tv and radio programmes, maps, statistics and much more. Many of these are subject specific – see the relevant subject guide for further details. You can find more information on searching databases in this Guide To Finding Material for Essays, Dissertations and Theses.

You can also access many of the Library’s electronic resources by searching Explore. More information about Explore will help you get started.

If you are using a PC in one of the UCL computer workrooms, access to the Library’s electronic materials is usually automatic. If you are working elsewhere, you will need to log in using your UCL username and password.

Many courses also have electronic reading lists which provide easy access to key texts.

Your username and password will become valid for using electronic resources after your enrolment process is completed.

How do I borrow books?

Your UCL ID card is also your Library Card and you’ll need it to gain access to UCL Libraries and borrow material at the library desks or using self service machines.

Search for books using Explore, our online search tool. Once you’ve found the location of a book, collect it from the shelf and then borrow it at the library desk or self service machines.

There are fines for late returns so be careful to note due dates and check your account online regularly.

Within Explore you can access your library account - click on 'My Account' in the top right hand corner of the Explore screen. This is where you can see which books you’ve borrowed and renew them. You need the barcode on the back of your ID card and a PIN to login – 4 digits representing the day and month of your birthday (DDMM).

More information about borrowing, renewing and reserving is available.

Details of opening hours for all UCL Libraries are available.

Can I print, photocopy or scan in the library?

All libraries on the Bloomsbury campus have machines where you can print, photocopy and scan to your UCL email account by swiping your ID card. You receive £12 free credit per year for printing and photocopying. You can top up your credit with cash at machines in the library, or with a credit or debit card online.

More information on photocopying, printing and scanning is available.

Video: Print@UCL - Guide to printing, scanning and copying

How do I get help?

Staff are available to help you with your enquiries throughout UCL Libraries while specialists can assist you at dedicated Reference Desks in the Main and Science Libraries.

You can also make enquiries by phone or email.

Subject specialists can answer in depth enquiries in person, by phone or by email.

You should receive a Library Essentials guide when you enrol; if not you can pick one up in any library along with many other guides

UCL Library Services offers a range of training courses to help with your studies. 

For more information see our Getting Help pages.

What do all these words mean? (Jargon buster)

  • Article – a short text published within a journal.
  • Classmark/location/call no. – the series of letters and numbers which you will see on the spine label of a book. It will help you to find a particular book on the shelves and collects together books on the same subject.
  • Database – a searchable collection of references to published literature, including journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government publications, books, etc.
  • E-book, e-journal, e-resource – electronic or digital materials which can be viewed online.
  • Electronic resources – material that is available electronically rather than in print – this can include books, journals and databases.
  • Explore – a tool for finding books, journals, articles etc. in print and electronic formats. Explore contains the whole of the UCL library catalogue of books and journals, but also much more besides.
  • Journal/periodical – usually published in regular issues and focused on a particular subject area, journals contain articles by a number of different authors. Another name for a journal is a periodical.
  • Journal holdings – the volumes or issues of a journal that are held by the library.
  • Loan type or loan period – the length of time a book can be borrowed. A loan type of ‘Reference’ means the item cannot be removed from the Library.
  • Resources – a general term which covers anything the library makes available to its users, either in print or electronic form. This includes books, journals, audio-visual material and databases.
  • Subject librarians – Librarians who are responsible for specific subject areas in the Library. They can recommend the best electronic resources and help you use them.

Contact us

Do ask in our libraries if you have any queries in person. There are a number of other ways to get in touch:

  • To contact other library staff, find out who's who in the Library.

To keep up to date with all the latest Library Services news, check the news feed on our homepage or follow us on Twitter.



Page last modified on 12 may 14 12:23