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Using library and digital services

If you haven't used an academic library before it can feel quite daunting. However, library staff expect students to ask questions.
Computer workstations and shelves of books in a university library.
© University of York

Library and IT services; Information Services; Library and Learning Services; Academic Services; Academic Support… the names will vary and every institution organises things slightly differently but the key thing is this – the library, IT services and academic support services are important higher education resources and will be important for you to succeed in your degree.

Academic libraries can seem daunting, especially if you haven’t used libraries much previously but it is important to remember that ultimately it is there to support your studies – it is there for you. And we want you to use it! Every institution will have pages about the library on the website – these are packed with information about the services available, usually with guides and often videos on how to use and access these. Have a look online to see what is available from your library and how to use it – but if you still have questions then do ask. People can often feel awkward about asking questions about how to use a new library or access resources but staff absolutely expect you to ask. After all, if you haven’t done it before, why would you know? And even if you have previous experience of academic libraries, a library at school or college or your local library, each library will be a little different.

Wherever you go and whatever you study, there are core principles and techniques for searching for and evaluating sources. It is likely your institution will provide guides or training on these, but open access resources are also available, like the searching for information practical guide from University of York library. This is open for anyone to use and the key principles and techniques are applicable anywhere. Resources like this can help you prepare for your studies, but remember nobody will expect you to know all of this before you start.

If you use social media, following your institution’s library can also be a good way to learn about what is going on – many institutions will use instagram and Twitter to announce any updates or news.

Some institutions will have a joined library and IT service, others won’t, but there are useful points to remember however things are arranged. Set up your university IT account promptly and get into the habit of regularly checking your university email account. This is important for updates from across the university, but typically any IT messages and anything regarding your library account will go to your university email.

Don’t buy any software before checking what is available to you through your university’s IT services – many institutions have licences for software such as Microsoft Office for their students.

And ultimately – whatever these services are called, however they are organised – library, IT and academic skills support will be available. Check out what services and support is there, and make use of it – it is there for you and your institution wants you to succeed.

Over to you

Do you have recent experience of using library resources? Remember university libraries are places where staff expect questions. Do you have a positive experience of using a library that you would like to share?

Add your comments below.

© University of York
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