Library Services


A review of the IOE Library

22 August 2022

Kristy Campbell, IOE PhD Student, tells us why she thinks the IOE Library is the perfect space to study in.

Institute of Education Library

My first encounter with the tremendous IOE Library was in 2019 when I enrolled on a master’s course at UCL. Often, I commuted in to uni for whole days at a time, and upon arrival would go in search of somewhere to unload my books and laptop. I can recall the many hours that I frittered away in the library as I sat engrossed in weighty assigned readings for long periods of the day.

Before the pandemic, the library always managed to be a tranquil and somehow lively place. The hot-desk system meant that students would watch and wait like hawks for desks to become available, only to be filled in moments. Often you could trace up and down the aisles of books in search of a seat, and stumble upon various communities of learners and individuals in pursuit of knowledge. It was a fascinating and animated place, a place where learners at all stages of their journey could belong.

Should you descend onto the third floor you will find a maze of desks and special and archived collections awaiting avid readers. This open-plan learning environment is equipped for all your tech and literary needs, each zone furnished with clean and spacious worktops and ergonomic seating.

The fourth floor comprises a number of solo pods as well as group study zones and rooms that can be booked; these are particularly useful for students that are collaborating on projects or rehearsing presentations.

Finally, the fifth floor. This densely populated space holds the extensive education collection. The space is lined with individual desks looking outwards to the minimalist geometric architecture. There are zones on the fifth floor dedicated to former students’ dissertations too, another wonderfully inspiring feature.

Of late, paying a visit to the library has been a very reflective experience. During the pandemic was my first encounter with one of the exclusive study pods, a chair with a desk and an imitation wall. I could unpack my ideas in this temporary space, reconstruct the architecture with excerpts and notes, and without any interference I could fix on my objectives.

Slowly, new and familiar faces have begun calling at the library again. A long-standing space with revived customs. For a while we stood a little further apart from one another, carefully considering others as we entered this invaluable educative resource, the staff on site cautiously catering to our remote learner needs. But now the doors are wide open, and we have adapted, and the library is waiting in anticipation for the new term to begin.

I go to the library to rid of the distractions I have at home, the sound of passing cars and the snacks in the fridge humming away behind me. When I arrive, I am greeted by a banquet of books, views looking out to the rich Brutalist structure on one side and an assortment of delicious green hues over in Woburn Square Garden on the other. I look about at my peers captivated by their studies, their fingers tapping away on keyboards, I listen out for the distant drawn-out sound of pages being turned.

Each year the IOE Library subscribes to vast numbers of journals and databases to support us in developing our specialist knowledge and professional practice.

Next time you’re on campus in search of a calm and creative space, why not pay a visit to one of the stimulating spaces designed for you? The UCL IOE Library is the largest education library in Europe, giving you access to a wide variety of physical and online resources, including internationally renowned Special Collections and Archives. The IOE Library has 330 study spaces including group study and quiet single study areas. You will also be able to access desktop PCs, a laptop loan service, print, copy and scanning, and library and IT help points. The friendly IOE Library team is here to support you throughout your studies via a range of channels, both online and in-person.