Library Services


Getting Started

Guidance 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.

Information for new students

Your access to library resources

You can access our libraries and borrow books within 1 hour once you have your ID card. You will have full access to online resources from your programme start date.

What to expect from your library

If you are about to start university for the first time, find out more about what to expect from your library.

Discover UCL Library Services

Online induction

Our online induction is your essential first step to using UCL's libraries, including all the resources and services available, for everyone new to UCL's libraries.

Self guided library tours

Get to know your way around our libraries by taking a self guided tour.

Take a self guided library tour

Key information to get you started

What UCL libraries can do for you 

Video: Getting Started

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/54952687

Find out more 

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

You will have full access to libraries, collections and electronic resources from your programme start date. Some library spaces may have access restrictions in place, so see our Service Updates page for up-to-date information. You will need your UCL ID card to access any UCL Libraries.

Face coverings may be required in UCL Libraries whose buildings are managed by our partner hospitals. Check our Libraries and study spaces webpage for any specific local requirements. Staff members or users with a medical exemption will not be expected to wear a covering. Library Services supports the Sunflower lanyard and Please give me space schemes.

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

Which library should I use?

A valid UCL ID card will allow access to any UCL Libraries. Some library spaces may have access restrictions in place, so see our Service Updates page for up-to-date information.

See our opening opening hours. You can also find the libraries using the general UCL maps

Where can I study?

Spaces can be found across UCL for quiet study or group work, including the Student Centre and UCL East Library, but please see our libraries and study spaces web pages for full details. You may like to book a study space.

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

Our dedicated subject specialist librarians can help you get the most out of our libraries and resources.

Your induction programme may include additional material put together by your librarian(s). Your librarian(s) 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, with guidance on Explore: finding books, journals and more, and short videos introducing topics such as subject searching and finding journal articles.

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.

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.

Find out more about books and e-books.

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 software.

How do I get online?

Use your UCL userid and password to access resources at UCL including:

More information about getting connected is available on the IT essentials for new students webpages.

WiFi is available throughout UCL, including in the libraries. There are also computer workrooms across UCL 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.

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 software.

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 userid and password.

Many courses also have online 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 borrow books?

Your UCL ID card is also your Library Card and you'll need it to gain access to UCL libraries and borrow material at the library desks or using self service machines.

Search for books (see above) using Explore, our online search tool, and when you have found the location of a book, go to the shelf and take it to a self service machine to borrow it with your ID Card and your PIN which is 4 digits representing the day and month of your birthday (DDMM).

How do I renew my books?

All borrowed books are automatically renewed if they have a loan period of one week or longer unless they have been requested by another user. Short loan items cannot be renewed and must be returned at the end of their loan period.

There are fines for the late return of books which have been recalled by another user.

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 userid and password

You can also renew your books 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.

Can I print, photocopy or scan in the library?

All libraries have machines where you can print, photocopy and scan to your UCL email account by swiping your ID card. You receive £12 free credit per year for printing and photocopying. You can top up your credit online.

More information on photocopying, printing and scanning is available.

    How do I get help?

    Staff are available to help you with your enquiries throughout UCL's libraries. You can also make enquiries through Library Chat, our online chat service, or by email.

    Subject specialists can answer in depth enquiries in person, by phone or by email. You can also 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 case 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 suggested 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:

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