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Library Services

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Getting Started

We provide help and assistance for first time users of the library and our services, including how to find books and online resources, using our libraries and spaces, and much more.

Discover UCL Library Services

Online induction

Key information to get you started

What UCL libraries can do for you 

Find out more 

What do I need to know about coming to the library?

Find out more about using our libraries and spaces, including online tours of some of our libraries and information about opening and study spaces:

Where do I find resources for my subject?

There is a guide for each subject which provides information about resources that will be useful for study and research

Each subject or area has a specialist librarian who can help you get the most out of our libraries and resources.

Your induction programme may include additional material put together by your librarian. Your librarian may also offer subject-specific training later in the term as part of one of your courses.

More information on training and support is available via LibrarySkills@UCL, which short videos introducing topics such as subject searching in Explore and finding journal articles:

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How do I find books?

Search Explore to find books in our libraries by selecting 'Library catalogue' from the drop-down menu on the right-hand side, or by limiting your search to books as 'Type' of material from the results screen. 

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

Explore will include links to the online version of the book, or e-book, where available and will indicate which library or libraries hold the book and collection information in the shelfmark where relevant to help you locate it on the shelves.

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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. 

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.
 

Remember: if you refer directly to any published literature, images, films etc. in your essays or assignments they must be properly referenced. See our guides on References, Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism and to reference management tools.

How do I get online?

Use your UCL userid and password to access resources at UCL such as UCL emailelectronic resources such as e-books, e-journals etc. and MyAccount in Explore to renew your books and keep track of your loans.

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 via UCL Go.

Your UCL userid and password will become valid for using electronic resources from your course start date once 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 our guides LibrarySkills@UCL: Searching for information and Finding Material for Study and Research.

Remember: if you refer directly to any published literature, images, films etc. in your essays or assignments they must be properly referenced. See our guides on References, Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism and to reference management tools.
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 UCL userid and password will become valid for using electronic resources from your course start date once your enrolment process is completed.

How do I renew my books?

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

You can check your library account within Explore - 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 by logging in with your UCL username and password

You can also renew your books by telephoning the library or in person at any Issue Desk/Help Point or self service machine.

Find out more about borrowing, renewing and reserving items Opening hours for all UCL Libraries

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 through Library Chat, our new online chat service, or by email.

  • Subject specialists can answer in depth enquiries in person, by phone or by email. You can request an online appointment.

  • 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 and phrases mean?
  • Abstract - a summary of a work such as a journal article.
  • Article - a text published within a journal.
  • Bibliography - a list of references consulted in writing an essay or other document.
  • Catalogue - a list of resources such as books and journals held in libraries which is available in Explore.
  • Citation - a work mentioned in a document such as an essay or journal article.
  • Database - a searchable collection of texts or references to published literature, including journal and newspaper articles, conference proceedings, reports, government publications, books, etc.
  • E-book - a book which can be viewed online which can sometimes be downloaded.
  • E-journal - a journal which can be viewed online, and from which articles can be downloaded.
  • Electronic resource/E-resource - material that is available electronically which includes 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.
  • Full text - complete articles and other works often available in specialist databases.
  • Holdings - the volumes or issues of a journal that are held in our libraries or in Store.
  • Journal usually published in regular issues and focused on a particular subject area with articles by individuals or a team of authors. Another name for a journal is periodical.
  • Keyword - a particular word which can be entered into a search box to find related resources.
  • Loan type or loan period - the length of time a book can be borrowed, or in the cae of  'Reference' which cannot be borrowed.
  • Open Access - research material such as theses which is freely available in a repository such as UCL Discovery.
  • Peer reviewed - works such as journal articles which have been examined by expert editors who may  have sugested amendments before publication.
  • Periodical - another name for a journal, abbreviated as "Pers" in UCL's Library Catalogue.
  • Plagiarism - Using other people's work without acknowledgment or attribution.
  • Resources - material available in print or electronic form which includes books, journals, audio-visual material, theses, and databases.
  • Shelfmark - the series of letters, and sometimes numbers, which you will see on the spine label of a book which helps you to find it, along with others on the same subject.
  • Source - a work where information has originally been found.
  • Store - our storage facility outside London which sends material to various libraries daily on request.
  • Subject Heading - a tag in a catalogue or database which makes finding related material easier.
  • Subject Liaison Librarians - Experts responsible for specific subject collections in our libraries who can also recommend the best resources for research and show you how to use them.
Contact us

There are a number of ways to get in touch:

Library Chat, our new online chat service. For general enquiries email library@ucl.ac.uk.

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