Library Services


A review of the Bartlett Library

31 May 2023

Kristy Campbell, IOE PhD Student visits the Bartlett Library.

Bartlet library image

On my approach to the Bartlett Library from the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, I found myself wandering in the direction of the British Library; half of this venture laden with greenery pouring out from some of London’s oldest and most treasured gardens. Just off Tavistock Square, I discovered the Bartlett Library on the ground floor of an almighty piece of architecture, the façade a fine match for its contents. I scurried up the steps towards a reception desk, where I was kindly directed towards the library’s extraordinary collections.

I made my entrance, eyes tracing the space from wooden floor to glass ceiling. The view to the outdoors overlooked rooftops, brick walls, and bursts of flora; the space was alive with abstract shapes, like a technical drawing, filled with arches and various tonal elements. Lining the passageway to the main part of the library was a host of practical facilities which included self-service machines, photocopiers and A3 printers, and an area for laptop loans. I also spotted an essential resource for those intense study periods – access to hot and cold water, for those much-needed tea breaks.

Surrounding the queue of shelves was a selection of study spaces. Looking down the rows of brightly coloured slightly slanted manuals, journals, portfolios, and the like, I could identify various individual desks. Many of these comprised large desks with swivel chairs, each equipped with plug sockets. Some were fitted with dividers to offer privacy and minimal distraction, while others were furnished with lamps. The flow of people moving about the space was nominal, and the students at their desks were soundlessly carrying out their tasks. The occasional click of a mouse could be heard. 

I entered a room with warm lighting, and an abundance of floor space. This was not a conservatory nor was it a sunroom, but the angular roof made of glass peaked upwards, painting the ceiling with the changing hue of the moody sky. Clouds soared by above the chamber, while time stood still in this carefully curated space where each student orchestrated their learning experience.

On site, a number of staff could be found at the help desk and in clearly sign-posted offices to address the needs of visitors; doors were left open and welcoming glances were exchanged. Quiet footsteps could be heard as they tended to the shelves in the main space.

Returning to the library lobby, themed presentations were exhibited on shelves. Upon my visit there was an array of literature and local information about gardening and community gardens – a welcomed change from my usual research area. The displays fostered knowledge of the historical aspect of the institution and subject matter, and the local connections to the library, helping visitors to better understand exactly where they were and the role they played in the social and academic community. 

There are a few things you’ll need to remember as you plan your visit to the Bartlett Library. First things first, your ID card is essential to entry; if you have any access requirements, the library is on the ground floor and is also step-free; finally, don’t forget to pack a lidded cup for those tea and coffee breaks! This is a truly welcoming and inspiring environment.

Visiting the UCL Bartlett Library

Check out the UCL Bartlett Library webpage for more information on visiting and 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.