Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsMy name’s David and I work in the Library’s Academic Liaison team at the University of York. My role involves helping new students to understand the Library, so I hear a lot about their expectations and anxieties. I work with lots of mature learners, and I know that using the Library for the first time can feel overwhelming. Surely it’s a place where you can hear a pin drop, and where everyone has their head down working? That’s partly true, but I also want to do some library mythbusting. University libraries remain focused on learning, but they look and feel very different even to 10 years ago. As the ways in which students learn have changed, so we’ve adapted our resources and spaces.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsUniversity assignments aren’t all working on your own writing essays - often you’re doing projects with other students, and you need study environments where it’s OK to bounce ideas around and chat through solutions. Libraries now provide a mix of study spaces - we’ve still got silent working areas, but we’ve also got areas where talking’s OK - encouraged even! That pace of change is also true of our resources. It’s no longer the case that everything the Library provides is on the physical bookshelves - there’s a lot online too. That might seem a scary prospect.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 secondsMany students that I speak to are more comfortable with a paperback than an ebook, and that’s OK - everyone has their study preferences and no-one’s going to judge you for choosing what works best for you. Let’s face it, that’s what we all do in life - we choose the most convenient option for what we’re doing at the time! You might feel when you enter a library for the first time that everyone else knows what they’re doing - you’ll see lots of students working, and hopefully a hive of activity from the lovely library staff!

Skip to 1 minute and 37 secondsIf you’re feeling like you’re the only person who doesn’t know what they’re doing, you might be surprised to hear that a lot of people feel the same. Students have told me that they didn’t know how to find a book, so they just wandered the shelves in the hope of finding something useful. That feeling of being lost - whether it’s true or not - is perfectly normal - nobody at a university expects you to know everything straight away. That’s especially true for mature learners - if you’ve been away from education for a while, or if it’s your first degree, why would you automatically know all the answers?

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 secondsNo member of library staff will ever be unwilling to help you, and if you think you’ve got a stupid question believe me that we’ve heard them all before - but that’s not a challenge! I like to think of the Library as a safe space at the heart of campus - we’re not aligned to any single department or college, and we’re as open to members of the public as we are to our students and staff. So why not visit a university library near you - you might be surprised by what’s on offer.

Welcome to library services

We may have a memory of libraries as being silent places for the select few, with secret codes connected to books, subjects we have never heard of, and library assistants who don’t really want anyone touching their neatly arranged, precious items. Think again!

Most education institutes will have libraries with open access to all, spaces where groups can meet and work, facilities to plan projects, drop-ins for academic support and cafe’s to relax. The kind of places that learners gravitate to.

David Brown who is an Academic Liaison Librarian here at the University of York, offers an open welcome and useful overview to library services, to ease any concerns that we may have about accessing the learning materials that are available to us as a returner learner.

When you have watched the video, do comment on how different David’s description of libraries today are compared to your memory or experiences of them

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Returning to Education as a Mature Student

University of York

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