If you're new to the University the library can be a big and intimidating place. There is a vast array of resources and services available to you - but don't worry, we are here to help.

This page breaks everything down by buildings, resources, people and skills. The information here is designed to be universal, and applies to undergraduates, postgraduates, academics, international students, distance-learners, and everyone else. 

What is the Library for?

The University Library has lots of books, journal articles and subscriptions that will help with your studies and research. We also provide space for you to study and we offer teaching and tools to improve your skills and knowledge.

Your University Card is also your Library Card

Always bring it with you as you will need it to enter the Library and borrow items.

Everything in the Library is free

You can borrow books and access the electronic resources provided by the Library for free.

There's no need to request books that are available

This means you will need to go to the shelves yourself to find the books you need.

A video introduction to University Libraries 

We produced this video to help all students with the progression to using University Libraries. So although it mentions York, it's not ONLY about our own University. If you prefer a video you'll still find it useful though; if you want more York-specific info, you'll find it in the text below. 


At our University, we have several library sites, including a main library on campus and two others in the City centre. Most students will use our main library on Campus West, most of the time: the Morrell, Fairhurst and Burton are three adjoining buildings, at the top of the campus over University Road. You enter all three through the Morrell, and they're usually open 8am - midnight, seven days a week - during exam periods we open 24hours a day. You can always find the latest opening hours on our homepage. 

The Morrell (pictured above) has four floors and over a million books, so be prepared for everything to be on a larger scale than you might be used to. But don't worry; help is available, and we'll get to that later.

As a member of the University you don't need to be invited to come to the library; it is yours to visit and use whenever we are open. There are a couple of areas for specific groups (such as Postgraduates, or students with young children), but the vast majority of our spaces are for everyone to use. Make sure you bring your University card to get in and out of our buildings. 


Now let's talk about the many academic resources available to you at the library. We have an online catalogue called YorSearch that tells you what books and other resources are available, how many there are of each, and where they are. The books are arranged by theme, so if you find one book on a subject you're interested in, chances are there'll be others on the shelves either side that you might find useful too.

Type something in to the box below and you'll see how it works. Your results will open in a new tab: when you've had a look around YorSearch, come back to this tab to continue... 

If you find a book you want in YorSearch, you take it out using our self-issue machines (or request it if it's out on loan). You can borrow up to 75 items at once, although you probably won't need to borrow nearly as many as that at one time. 

Find out more about Borrowing

Our books are available to all members of the University, and our shelves are open. If the book you need is available, you don't need to ask permission or request it - just borrow the item using our self-issue machines. We'll send you an email telling you when you need to bring it back. 

As well as print books, YorSearch will find a lot more, including:

  • Academic journals. A journal (also known as a periodical) is a publication with a particular subject focus which is published regularly. Scholarly journals are where academics publish their research. Most journals are electronic and accessed online, but we also have some print journals on our shelves.
  • Journal articles. Journal articles are where academics (for example, your lecturer) publish their research. They are also known as research papers. An individual issue of a journal will contain several different articles written by lots of different authors. Journal articles are good to use for assignments as they are current and often peer-reviewed: checked by other experts in the field for accuracy and bias.
  • Databases. A database is an electronic collection of information which you can search for journal articles or subject specific information. Look at our Subject Guides to find out what databases to use for your subject.
  • e-Books. An ebook is a book which is available in an electronic format, so you can read it online.

There are also audiovisual materials, newspapers, patents, conference proceedings and more in YorSearch. These resources can be accessed both on and off-campus using your University login details.

More definitions


The library also has staff who can help you with anything from finding books and resources to developing research skills. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it; that's what we're here for. Each Department has an Academic Liaison Librarian who can give you advice and support; find yours via the Subject Guide for your subject.

We can talk to you on social media (we're on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok), or on Library Chat, or at the Help Desks in the Morrell and King's Manor Library. 

Find out more about how to contact us

Study skills

It may take you some time to adjust to studying in at University as the approach to teaching and learning may be very different from what you've experienced before, especially if you're joining us from another country. Don't worry, we are here to help and support you in developing the skills you'll need to use the library effectively.

These include research skills, critical thinking skills, and time management skills. We offer workshops and training sessions to help you develop these skills, AND guides you can work through at your own pace, so be sure to take advantage of them.

The Skills Guides at York have an international reputation, so be sure to take advantage of them. On the Skills home page you'll find a list of upcoming online and in-person workshops, and loads of guidance divided up into three main categories: Find & Research, Organise & Analyse, and Create & Communicate. 

Next steps

The library is an essential resource for your academic success at University. It may seem daunting at first, but with a bit of guidance and practice, you'll soon be navigating the library like a pro. Are you ready for a library to-do list to get you started?

New students: quick start guide