Library Services


UCL Ophthalmology Library Review

18 September 2023

Kristy Campbell, IOE PhD Student visits the Joint Library of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital & UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

A librarian works amidst the book shelves in the Ophthalmology Library.

Despite my limited knowledge regarding the care of eye conditions and visual systems, I could see very clearly that the collection of ophthalmoscopes, probes, and loupes, were of great significance in this setting, and that the library’s unique collection of tools acted as an archive for budding specialists to study. Something I always feel adds to the beauty of a space is the way that artefacts and structural features carry the age of the discipline; in this instance, securely displayed behind glass cases, the library staff had curated and documented essential implements dating back centuries. 

Beyond the mini-museum, I came upon row after row of specialist literature – further emphasising the importance of the space and the expertise of individuals visiting. The shelves of books and journals were complemented by a selection of study spaces, most notably the individual isolated pods, which were a lot like incubators. Students studied behind glass doors in silent undisrupted areas, with their materials spread out, in their own harmoniously curated way. There were however desk spaces that accommodated group working, some with computers, and others in bookable contained suites too. These were often found with reasonable space between them to ensure privacy and comfort, I thought this was particularly considerate for those of us that continue to require a little social distance. The integration of the diverse study spaces into the library felt like great effort had been made to meet the distinctive needs of our learners at UCL.

Oddly enough, as I navigated my way around the modest library, I felt very distant from the commotion of the city, which usually rumbles endlessly in the background. Once I had decoded the signage, and passed through a labyrinth of doors, it was situated on the lower-ground floor; the space felt very tucked away, hidden almost, but safe. Importantly, both stairs and a lift were available to access the space. I could see members of the library staff quietly getting on with their tasks in the background, readily available, but they left me to roam independently.

This library is located north-east of central London, by Old Street roundabout. Although separated from the hustle and bustle of the main quad and other Bloomsbury-centric UCL buildings, this treasure is not to be left out. The outer building is lined with a sharp lime green art-deco pattern, which looked a lot like a floorplan, the inside-outside effect. Once inside, the facilities are wide-ranging. These include the use of computers in the communal study spaces, endless rolling shelves of literature to be explored, silent study spaces and individual pods, photocopying, and if memory serves me right, a paper binding service too. 

On my visit, I stopped at Shoreditch Grind for breakfast before heading over, but there’s a whole row of food stores including M&S and Aldi to choose from, not to mention great transport links running all through the day into the night. The library is also set off the main road which is great for a quiet fresh air break after you’ve been underground in the library all day. Although it is far from the main campus, it is ideal for those days when you want to focus, read, and immerse yourself in your workload - the only thing to distract you will be worthwhile resources and those curious optical-related tools I mentioned earlier. The library is open 9-5 daily, but closed at the weekends - don’t miss out!

Visiting the Joint Library of Ophthalmology

Check out the Joint Library of Ophthalmology Library webpage for more information on visiting and using of this space.

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