Independent study is a big part of university life. At university you’ll have to spend lots of time reading, writing, and preparing for lectures and seminars. The library is a popular location in which to do this. Read on to find out more...
You'll also want to look up other books related to your subject that aren’t on the reading list. Not only will you gain a greater understanding of the subject, but quoting from them in your essays demonstrates that you’ve put more effort into your research, and haven’t just stuck to the books you’ve already been told about. As your degree goes on, being able to find information without a reading list will become more and more important, so it's a good idea to get used to doing it first.
You'll normally be able to borrow a certain number of books for a certain length of time from the library. If you return books late, you'll have to pay a fine, and you might not be allowed to take any more books out until you've paid up. Some libraries will allow you to request an extension online if nobody else has reserved the book, the number of books you can have out at once might go up in your final year.
Some books aren't available for borrowing: you'll have to read them in the library and make notes, or take photocopies if that's allowed. You can expect to spend more time reading books in the library as your degree goes on, as you'll be using more specialist books.
Remember that Your university ID card will also normally be your library card, which you’ll need to get books out of the library. It’s normally free to get most books out, but you will be charged fines if you return them late. Not everything can be taken out of the library though, so for certain things like journals and some reference books you’ll need to do your reading in the library and photocopy any pages you need.
If you need to use another department's library, remember that the rules might be different, and you might not be allowed to borrow things from departments other than your own.
The rules of the library can be quite strict, covering things like noise, what you can bring in with you and how rare books should be handled. The best way to make an enemy of your librarian and land yourself with a big fine is to write in the library books, so make your notes separately.
Remember that lots of other people will be after the same books as you. The library won’t have a copy for everyone, so get to the library early to make sure you can withdraw or photocopy the books you need before they’re all taken out. On the other hand, you shouldn't take books out and then wait ages to use them: not only will this annoy the other people on your course, many libraries allow other students to recall books, forcing whoever has it out to return it early.