Library Services


A review of IOA Library

21 February 2023

Kristy Campbell, IOE PhD Student, discovers the true treasure of the UCL Institute of Archaeology Library.

Library user looking at an item, standing amongst book shelves

Entering the Institute of Archaeology library, I felt a gust of nostalgia rush over me. Stationed to the right was a splendid composition of mid-century modern teak-looking study benches, each separated with an elegant divider. Somehow, the distinct desks appeared simultaneously quaint and significant, creating a territory in which the scholar could unpack and achieve their mise en place. Sinking softly into the atmosphere of the library was a glorious hybrid scent of old unturned book pages and a crisp invigorated perfume of the outdoors. The desks faced one another, obstructed by a central shelf upon which plants crawled and climbed, their offshoots receiving the wooden desks back into nature.

To the left, tunnels, coves even, of shelves with books, row after row, were poised leading to desktops on windowsills, a sight for the portrait artist to marvel at. As I passed, I would discover a silhouette of a student looking outwards to the city skyline each time; beside them, a disorderly pile of literature, and a striking bust of a notable sage watching over them.

As I journeyed through, the shelves became more frequent, some featuring astounding exhibitions of colour-coordinated literature, a real sight for the senses. Amongst these line-ups stood a number of world-renowned works by and for distinguished scholars. The collection on Egyptology which is connected with the Petrie Museum, Yates (Classical Archaeology) and other archaeological compilations from all points of the globe make the library a valuable fount of knowledge for the institution and further afield. 

Beyond the solitary seating in the main library space is the Kenyon Group Study Room. In here, students come together to work on group projects and use library computer facilities, this popular resource can be reserved online. This much sought-after study location is in proximity to all of the IOA collections, providing a great space to delve into the many sources of interest.

While there are plentiful facilities available on site, including computers, photocopiers and scanners, the library staff work hard to ensure that customers have access to support beyond campus too. From the Issue Desk, staff can loan laptops to students to meet remote learning needs. In addition, the IOA Library social media is regularly updated with engaging and topical posts to let you know what’s going on in the library and how they can help. Upon visiting this wonderful space, I was greeted by the enthusiastic library team who provided me with rich information about their books of the week and their vast plant selection.

Visitors should note that access to the library is via lift or stairwell, and that the library itself spans a single floor. Staff are available on site to support further access needs.

The IOA library is a hub for information exchange, it is a celebration of all things archaeological. The team host school groups and support work experience students, widening participation and outreach to budding scholars. 

Tucked away on the fifth floor of the Archaeology Institute, this archive remains a true treasure to the UCL community.

Visiting the UCL Institute of Archaeology Library

Check out IOA Library on the UCL website for more information on using of this space.

Find your favourite study space

The UCL campus contains many study spots you might not be aware of. Use the Find your Favourite Library tool to find the library or study space for you. You can also view space availability on our webpages.