If you've never used a University Library before, it can be a big and intimidating place. There are lots 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, online and distance-learners, and everyone else at the university.

Members of the public are also able to visit our libraries. For more information about using the Library as a non-university member, see our page for external visitors:

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 introduce mature students to University Libraries, but the information is relevant to new students or anyone who feels anxious or worried about using a University Library.

The video is not ONLY about our own University, so if you want more York-specific information, you'll find it in the text below. 


Universities often have a very large library, and many have more than one library building. These buildings often vary in the resources they have, the study space and facilities available and their opening hours. Students may develop a preference for one of the libraries at their university, or may use all of them throughout their degree.

At our University, we have several library sites, including a main Library on Campus West and two other libraries in the City centre. Most students will use our main Library, which is made up of three adjoining buildings: the Morrell, Fairhurst and Burton. You enter all three buildings through the Morrell, and they are open 8am to 12 midnight, seven days a week. During exam periods, the main Library is open 24-hours a day. You can always find the latest opening hours on the Library homepage.

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 areas in the Library for specific groups (such as our Postgraduate rooms, or the Family Study Room for students with young children), but most of our spaces are for everyone to use. Make sure you bring your University card to get in and out of our buildings.


University libraries pay for thousands of academic resources to support study and research at their university. You will find books, ebooks, journal articles, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, databases and more. All these resources will be listed on the library’s online catalogue, which you can search to find what you need.

At York, our online library catalogue is called YorSearch. As well as the books we have on the library shelves, YorSearch will show you other types of resources we have, including:

  • eBooks. An ebook is a book which is available in an electronic format, so you can read it online.
  • Journal articles. Journal articles are where academics (for example, your lecturer) publish their research. They are also known as research papers. Journal articles are good to use in your assignments as they are current and often peer-reviewed, which means they are checked by other experts in the field for accuracy and bias.
  • Academic journals. A journal (also known as a periodical) is a publication with a particular subject focus which is published regularly. An individual issue of a journal will contain many journal articles written by different researchers. Journals can be printed, but most are electronic and accessed online.
  • 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.


YorSearch will show you what books and other resources are available on the topic or keywords that you search for. For electronic resources, YorSearch will give you a link to access the resource. For physical resources, it will tell you where to find it on our library shelves.

Type something into the box below to search on YorSearch and you'll see how it works. Your results will open in a new tab.

Finding books on our shelves

The books in our libraries are available to all members of the University and visitors to the Library. We have open shelves, so if the book you need is available, you don't need to ask permission or request it; you can just find it on the shelf. We have our own classification scheme at York, which is how we arrange our books in the Library. The books are arranged by topic, so if you find one book on a subject you're interested in, there might be others on the shelves either side that you will find useful too.

Borrowing books

Books can be borrowed from the library using our self-issue machines and you can borrow up to 75 items at once. If an item is on loan, you can request it through YorSearch and we will make it available to you as soon as possible. We have a different borrowing scheme than you might be used to from other libraries, so we'd encourage you to read more about how it works:

Find out more about Borrowing

More definitions


The Library 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.

The main Library and King’s Manor Library have a Help Desk with library staff ready to answer your questions about using the Library. Additionally, each Department has a Faculty Librarian who can give you advice and support in using resources; find yours via your Subject Guide.

We can talk to you online through social media (we're on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok), on Library Chat, or via email.

Find out more about how to contact us

Study skills

It may take you some time to adjust to studying 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.

We offer workshops and training sessions, as well as online guides you can work through at your own pace, on a wide range of topics, including media editing, coding, academic writing, referencing, note taking and more.

The Skills Guides at York have an international reputation, so be sure to take advantage of them. On the Skills homepage 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?

The Morrell at night

Next steps checklist