At a British University, you need to be able to learn: students develop the skills to prove their own point of view instead of giving a ready-made answer from a textbook. Independent work is valued above lectures so the modern University library in Britain is not just a pile of books, but a real multifunctional learning center.

The Cultural and Education section of the British Embassy in Moscow has prepared a guide to the best university libraries in the UK.

Library for studying

The reputation of a University consists of scientific achievements, the authority of teachers, how well the courses meet the requirements of the labour market, and, of course, the achievements of graduates and their level of training in the profession.

Universities that are interested in ensuring that their students achieve maximum success in their field and increase the reputation of the University strive to create suitable conditions for this.

There are many free services available for students at any University: you can take part in time management training, get psychological advice, help with paperwork, search for housing or internships in large companies, and additionally, study English. In an academic sense, the most important resources for students are the University libraries. Higher education institutions develop them no less than educational programmes, and try to make them as functional as possible.

Books around the clock

The training system assumes that the student spends no less time in the library than in lectures, and searches for the necessary information himself. So regardless of the history or status of the University, most libraries are arranged in a similar way: it is a whole complex for independent learning. For individual work, there are special "zones of silence" that resemble reading rooms, where you cannot talk or interact with other students, and there are even small rooms for sleeping. For group projects, there are also separate areas and offices with whiteboards and projectors.

Books and scientific journals are not the only things that universities offer as  resources during your studies. Students have access to collections of electronic media, online copies of textbooks, free subscriptions to several electronic libraries, databases, and newspapers and magazines.

To use all this, you don't need to be in the library, just register on the website of your University or College.

If the necessary publication cannot be found at the University, it can be ordered from the library of another University. Universities often buy additional books according to students ' requirements: this way the book collection does not become outdated and is updated with the latest publications.

Help with research

The library staff can help you find the right sources or check how the literature review is done in the dissertation. They also help you correctly arrange citations and lists of sources according to one of the generally accepted standards — for example, Harvard or Vancouver.

Students may lose points for their work due to citation errors so to avoid this, special seminars are held in libraries several times a year. 

During these sessions, students will learn how to use electronic catalogs and databases.

Library as a Museum

University libraries not only provide students with the necessary literature but also act as cultural and educational centers. Visiting a library is sometimes no less interesting than visiting a Museum. Libraries often host exhibitions or lectures for everyone. Not only students can get access to the University's book collection, but also ordinary visitors.

The University of Manchester library

This is one of the largest academic libraries in the UK and has the status of a National research center. In addition to a rich collection of educational and scientific literature, there are four thousand incunabula - the first printed books published before 1501. The most valuable of them are the 42 - line and 36 - line Gutenberg Bibles, from the appearance of which it is customary to date the history of printing. It also houses the world's largest collection of Aldine publications by Venetian printers of the XV-XVI centuries.

In the library, you can find ancient texts on papyrus, parchment, bamboo boards and bones. The collection of manuscripts includes ancient scrolls in fifty languages of Europe and the Middle East. It also houses several early editions of Shakespeare's works, including a lifetime collection of sonnets from 1609.

The University is gradually digitizing its collections, so that many valuable publications are available online on the library's website without special registration.

University College London library

The UCL library has 17 separate collections located in different buildings on the University's Central London campus. The University has many educational and research programs, so the choice of literature is wide: from Biomedicine and science to art, architecture, and archeology.

The library is known for its collections of manuscripts, archives, and rare books. For example, there is an edition of Dante's Divine Comedy from 1472 and Milton's Paradise Lost from 1667. Here you can also access the George Orwell archive, which includes not only books and notebooks, but also, for example, letters, diaries of the writer, and personal documents — birth certificate and driver's license.

For the convenience of students, the library is open 24 hours from Tuesday to Friday.

The University of Leeds Library

The University of Leeds is neither the oldest nor the most famous. But the special collections of this library are given a special status in international culture. Leeds has a rich collection of coins, including 250 Roman coins and several coins dating back to the iron age.

Another interesting collection is illustrated cookbooks published from 1487 to the twenty-first century, many of which came to the library thanks to a private collector. A separate collection is dedicated to Russia and the life of Russian emigration in the UK, this collection includes documents and manuscripts by writers Ivan Bunin and Leonid Andreev.

Do you want to know how to apply to a UK university? Register for the biggest fair of UK education Study UK via the link, meet 45 leading UK universities, join the webinars with experts, and start planning your future now.