Study Space

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University of Reading Library at nightPlease carry your Campus Card when using the Library as proof you are a University member and entitled to access. This is especially important overnight as the Library resumes term-time 24-hour opening.

From 19:00 to 08:00 everyone must enter by the right-hand Library door. (The revolving door will be locked).

  • University members can gain automatic entry by placing their Campus Card on the ‘proximity reader’ beside the right-hand door.
  • Visitors and University members without their Campus/Library Cards will be asked to show ID and sign our Visitors’ Book.

The Library reserves the right to refuse access to anyone, including University members, who cannot identify themselves adequately.

Please note that during the May-June examination period, we operate a ‘no card, no access’ policy 17:00-08:00 in order to preserve our fantastic University Library facilities for University members only.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator

Black and white image of students studying at large tables in Library reading room

50 years ago students at the University of Reading Library used no laptops, phones or even calculators

It is exactly 50 years since the University of Reading Library at Whiteknights was officially opened. Half a century later, student study methods may be a little different, and their numbers greatly increased, but the Library is still at the heart of the student experience - the reason the University is still investing in adapting the building for current student needs. Visit our photographic exhibition on the Library’s Ground Floor to see how we’ve changed since 1964.

(However, please note Library access restrictions during exam time.)

Share your Library past!

Has the University Library been a part of your life? We invite you to share your memories with us below or in the exhibition visitors’ book.

Library history at Whiteknights

University Library buiding at night, windows glowing agains dark skyThe Library was the third academic building built in the new Whiteknights campus, acquired in 1946 for expansion from the original London Road site. Initial designs date from 1958. Construction began in 1960 and was completed in 1963, having been delayed by a serious roof fire and ferocious storms that January. Library stock transferred from The Old Library at London Road over the Christmas Vacation in December.

Black and white image of two men in universtiy regalia about to cut ceremonial ribbon

The Library was officially opened on 15 May 1964 by the Chancellor, Lord Bridges

An official opening ceremony took place on 15 May 1964 when the Chancellor, Lord Bridges cut a ceremonial ribbon beside the Library’s architect, Frederick Preston. It was followed by a special degree congregation in the 2nd Floor Reading Room, bestowing honorary degrees on Preston, publishers, librarians and authors including W.H.Auden.

The new Library was designed to serve for a student population of 3,000 but there was already talk of an extension to the east. Whilst Reading only had 1,537 students in 1963, it aimed for 3,700 by 1967-68. In fact there were nearly 5,000 by 1969 and University numbers – and aspirations for expansion – kept rising.

Black and white image of scaffolding around a building, cars in foregroundThe Library extension was agreed in 1981 and opened in 1985. It reconfigured the north side, adding stack space on three subject floors, a 1st Floor current periodicals area (now S@iL) and Ground Floor administrative space. A new entrance was let into the west side, replacing two north and south entrances. The former north entrance was enclosed, becoming the Short-Loan Collection. The old south entrance is now one of CaféLibro’s windows, by the self-service machines.

In January 2000, the largest PC area on campus came into the Library. Computers were now essential for writing, communicating and research since the internet’s 1995 birth, but students still wanted to be in the Library.

In 2006, University archives and special collections relocated to a new state-of-the-art store and reading room service at Redlands Road (University Museums and Special Collections Service, UMASCS). This released 1st and 5th Floor space at Whiteknights for student study space.

In 2007, Ground Floor £1 million refurbishment created new areas for student group work – an increasingly important aspect of study – and a new Course Collection for in-demand course texts and a café.

Smaller steps, as funding was available, brought group study pods and display screens in 2011.

IMG_2046 small

Today students need collaborative study pods and power sockets at each desk for effective library study

Most recently our 2009-2014 Collections Project review of all stock, and acquiring an Off-site Store, gained valuable study space within the Library. Major refurbishment in summer 2013 and 2014, in all worth £4.4 million, delivers:

  • upgraded individual study areas: Silent Study 5th Floor (2013); Quiet Study 2nd Floor (2013), 4th & 3rd Floors (2014)
  • more collaborative study space: 2nd Floor (2013), 4th Floor (2014)
  • many more sockets to power laptops and mobile devices, now essential for students.

University of Reading Library at nightOpening hours have also changed in the last fifty years. In 1964, where students were largely full-time and locally resident, the new Library was only open on term-time weekdays until 9.45pm and closed at weekends. To satisfy current student needs, where students may be part-time, need to take jobs or simply want the choice of early or late working, 2014 saw the permanent establishment of 24-hour Library opening.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator

Student studying at desks separated by green divider panelsYou say you love the Library’s refurbished Silent Study 5th Floor and both the quiet and collaborative study ares on the refurbished 2nd Floor and you want more. So you’ll love what’s planned for the Library’s 3rd and 4th Floors this summer … not to mention refurbished single-sex Ground Floor toilets and upgraded staircases! Another £2.4 million of University investment enables work to begin in earnest after exams on Monday 16 June. It is due for completion by the end of September 2014.

How will works affect me, summer 2014?

The Library remains open to provide services to Library users around works. However, please note:

  • We’ve already moved some 4th Floor social sciences material this Easter. Further stock moves will take place on the 3rd and 4th Floors from June. This includes relocating the Teaching Practice Collection and music CDs to the 3rd Floor.
  • Access to the 3rd Floor Arts and Humanities and 4th Floor Social Sciences material may be restricted, section by section. However we will operate a fetch and carry service where material is out-of-bounds.
  • Library staff will continue to help you but based in alternative, temporary accomodation on another floor.
  • Please use alternative PC and Study areas whilst Rooms 111, 110 and 109 are closed to users. Our newly refurbished 5th and 2nd Floors remain open throughout.
  • Both sets of Ground Floor toilets will be closed for refurbishment, reopening eight weeks later as separate Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s conveniences, as requested by Library users. Please use alternative facilities on the Library’s 5th Floor or in the nearby HUMMS Building.
  • Please use the Library’s revolving or right-hand front door. The left-hand door will be out of use whilst we work on our heating system, using an adjacent staff entrance.
  • Noise: Unfortunately, making such a fantastic ‘omelette’ will require cracking eggs loudly! You will experience noise from drilling through floors and walls throughout the project, although we will try to restrict this to early mornings before 10:00.
  • Alternative quiet space: Students and staff may always book rooms in other parts of the University for quiet study. At this time we envisage fewer rooms will already be engaged for teaching or exams. Contact or ring 0118 378 6506.
  • Disabled parking bays behind the Library will be moved from near the Chaplaincy to near the Cedars Hotel entrance whilst the contractors’ compound is in place.

More information

Watch our Library homepage for summer 2014 updates on our University Library News blog or follow the Library on Twitter or Facebook. Even more Library improvements are under development for future years, including the Library’s Ground Floor and external structure.

Rachel Redrup, Library Marketing Co-ordinator

researchskillsbanner2013Want to do your best in your exams? Effective preparation is the key, says the University Study Advice Team, based on the 1st Floor of the Library.

Prepare for exams

Take advice from the Study Advisers’ guides on preparing for exams, watch one of their bite-size video tutorials, book an individual appointment with them or read a University Library book on the subject, eg:

Five tips for effective revision

  1. Download past papers from the Examinations Office Past Papers Archive to work out how many topics to revise, how questions are asked, timings and for practice questions.
  2. Revise effectively to a schedule covering all your selected topics in some depth (rather than a few completely), and utilising your best times of day for concentration.
  3. Learn actively – think critically and consider how to use what you’re reading to answer an exam question. Keep testing what you know, then look for material to fill gaps.
  4. Practise, practise, practise writing to a specific time and by hand – find out how much you can write in that time. It is different to writing assignments!
  5. Be nice to yourself! You need some space for thinking and processing what you’ve learned. To achieve your best results, give yourself time off to exercise, eat and sleep properly… Take the Library stairs, sit outside or try cafélibro or refreshment machines on the Library Ground Floor. However, please don’t eat at your desk – it’s not good for you or the Library environment, although bottled water is OK to  have with you.

Space to revise

  • The Library is students’ most popular choice. Select which study areas help you revise best: group discussion, quiet or silent study. For the last week of the Easter vacation and in term-time, the Library is open 24-hours, Sunday to Saturday.
  • RUSU’s The Study usually opens 24-hours from 09:00 Monday to 21:00 Saturday: see RUSU’s website.
  • If the Library is busy or you want an alternative, check extra University exam-time study spaces across campus, arranged by Student Services. Note which operate during the day, evenings, weekends or overnight!

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information.

This info tip was written by Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator, and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

University of Reading Library at nightFrom Tuesday 22 April, the Library is open again after the University Easter closure. As it is exam revision time, we are opening 24-hours for this last week of vacation, although we normally now open 24-hours in term (except Saturday 21:00 to Sunday 08:30 for our maintenance and your rest!)

Note that entry 00:00-08:00 is by swiping your campus card at the Library’s right-hand front door!

4th Floor book moves

We have been moving books around on the Social Sciences Floor in advance of refubishment this June. We have been clearing the high-ceilinged area so we can install modern group-study funiture here, similar to the 2nd Floor. This means folio books, reference books and all normal sized books have moved. Check our previous post for more on all this change on the 4th Floor!


CaféLibro has also re-opened and with a trial period of extended opening!

  • Monday to Friday 08:00-23:00
  • Saturday 11:00-18:00
  • Sunday 11:00-23:00


Avoid works in and around the Library this vacation which may still be in operation by following diversions around staircase closures and trenches outside our front door!

Other services

The ITS Help counter opens in vacations 09:00-17:00 weekdays. Check our Study Advice website for guides and help.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator

University of Reading Library at nightStudents told the University they wanted 24-hour Library opening, including through National Student Surveys. We listened and invested. With new staffing arrangements agreed, we can now announce the dates of 24-hour term-time Library opening 2014:

  • The last two weeks of the spring term: Sunday 9 March to Saturday 22 March 2014.
  • After the Easter break and throughout the summer term: Tuesday 22 April to Friday 4 July 2014.
  • 24-hour opening in term-time will be standard over the 2014-2015 session.

Check our opening hours page for precise times and dates. (We do close Saturday night/Sunday morning for our essential maintainance – and your recreation!)

Your views

What do you think? Please leave us your comments below.

You can read what students told us last year in ‘Your views on 24-hour Library opening [2013]‘ when the Library piloted 24-hour opening for exam-time 2013.

Service levels and noise

The Library will be self-service early evening to morning and on May Bank Holidays. All study areas, PCs, printers and photocopiers will be will be available. You can pay small fines, borrow, return and renew at Self-Service Points, including ‘holds’ you collect yourself. See our website for which service level to expect when.

Please note that cleaning, including the use of vacuums, will take place regularly 05:30-08:30 Monday to Friday, plus occasional reactive cleaning. There will also be fire alarm testing every Monday at 08:30. Whilst we apologise for any disturbance to your concentration, this is essential to maintain a pleasant and safe working environment for all.


Security staff will be on duty overnight. Between 00:00 and 08:00, you will need your Campus Card to operate a swipe-card entry system at the right-hand front door. This should help restrict entry to University members only for your safety.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator

26718429If you use S@il PCs, Study Rooms, Study Advice, Maths Support or ITS Help on the Library’s 1st Floor, please note! Rewiring work will be carried out here between 9 December and 15 January as part of the programme to rewire the whole Library building.  Whilst it is not expected to be very disruptive, there will be some noisy work and some areas will be relocated, or corridors rerouted, for short periods.

Affected areas

  • The large S@IL computer lab will remain available, barring unforeseen circumstances.
  • Corridors and gallery will be rewired Monday 16 to Friday 20 December. However we will try to reroute you around works.
  • Study Advice will be relocated to Rooms 109 to 111 from Thursday 2 to Wednesday 8 January. 
  • Maths Support and the ITS Help Counter may have to relocate for some of the works, depending how work proceeds – to be confirmed.
  • Quiet Study with PCs Room 109 and Group Study Rooms 110 & 111 will be unavailable for their normal functions Thursday 2 to Friday 17 January. Please use other PCs, and other group study areas on the Ground or 2nd Floors.

Please see the University Library news blog or Library Twitter for any day-to-day changes to this programme.







Library central informal seating areaRefurbished silent study areas on the Library’s 5th Floor are now open, the final phase of this year’s major Library refurbishment!  This follows the opening of refurbished 2nd Floor collaborative and individual study areas at the beginning of term - already very popular.  Next summer further refurbishment will take place on the Library’s 3rd and 4th Floors.

Library 5th Floor: traditional style reading roomThe 5th Floor has been rebuilt to provide:

  • An open, soft-seating area for conventional reading.
  • Two long, silent study rooms, bounded by glass walls. One is a traditional-style room, with some of the chairs and study tables original to the 1960s building, refurbished with modern lighting and power sockets. The other room contains contemporary-style furniture, again with power sockets and lights.
  • Library 5th Floor - contemporary study roomA second relaxed study area, furnished with self-contained, felt armchairs overlooks the 4th Floor through a new glass screen, replaced as in the original 1960s build with modern, safer materials.
  • More single-sex toilets than previously, plus one with disabled access.

IMG_2122 smallLet us know what you think by commenting below!

More information

For more information, see our exhibition on the University Library’s Ground Floor, University Library news or follow the Library on Twitter.


University of Reading Library at nightThe University has approved that the University Library should open 24 hours during term time.  Subject to practicalities, 24-hour opening will resume in March or April 2014. It will cover the revision/exam period 2014 and then continue for the rest of the summer term and into the next session.

Watch this space for further information as it becomes available.

See our previous blogs about when we piloted opening the Library 24-hours during the summer exam period 2013 and some student views of it then.


essentialreadingcoverSee what the Library’s just done for you in the autumn term issue of Essential Reading (PDF), our newsletter for students!

Collect a print copy from the Library or your hall, or view it online for news of:

  • the major Library refurbishment – £2 million spent on two floors,
  • extra Library improvements
  • a huge number of new e-resources
  • and much more …..


IMG_2046 smallCome and wonder at the new collaborative and quiet study areas on the 2nd Floor!  This first phase of this year’s major Library refurbishment is now open! The second phase, a refurbished silent study area on the 5th Floor, will open later this term.

Refurbished 2nd Floor open!

IMG_2044 smallThe 2nd Floor reading room (front of building) holds a fantastic, new, collaborative study area, filled with a variety of modern furniture, especially designed to minimise sound. There are glass group study pods, long study tables, diner-style group seating, alcove padded seating for small groups, individual swivel armchairs, bright white tables with innovative chair designs …  

IMG_2062 smallThe resources area (back of building) has reopened for you to consult books and journals after rewiring and carpeting.  It also includes new individual study seating for quiet study. There are new power sockets at every study desk.

The new information desk is in the central, high-ceilings area, opposite the catalogue. Ask here for your Liaison Librarians who have returned to staff offices on this floor. 

Let us know what you think by commenting below!

Progress with other Library areas

IMG_2076 smallThe 5th Floor Silent Study area is due to open in a few weeks time. The 3rd and 4th Floor are back in full operation after glass walls were installed between adjacent floors, letting in more light and views. You will enjoy the newer study furniture (long desks, study carrels, chairs) brought in from now refurbished floors. It is hoped to make further improvements next summer.

Behind the Library, the road and parking spaces remain closed for the works’ duration .. although you may notice the crane has gone!

More information

For more and the latest information, see our exhibition on the University Library’s Ground Floor, University Library news or follow the Library on Twitter.


26718429In addition to major refurbishment, we’ll be making some other improvements to the Library during July. Although this will mean some further disruption, the improvements will create a nicer working environment for you.

Improvements include…

  • Re-carpeting the Ground Floor Main Hall
    Commencing 8 July, replacement of the carpet on the Ground Floor will take approximately three weeks and means that sections of the public area will be out of use for approximately one week each.
  • Replacement of chairs on the 1st Floor
    The majority of the chairs in S@iL will be replaced when we are closed over the weekend of 6-7 July.
  • 35 twin sockets added to the 3rd Floor
    New electrical sockets will be installed around the edge of the 3rd Floor, giving at least one socket per study space in these areas. This work will take a week and will be completed in July.
  • All windows above the Ground Floor are to be cleaned inside and out

Alternative study areas

Whilst we will try to keep disturbance to a minimum, students and staff needing an alternative space for quiet study can book rooms in other parts of the University. Contact or ring 0118 378 6506.

Keep up-to-date with the latest news

Our previous blog (Major refurbishment begins) details which Library areas are open and how to request material from out-of-bounds areas.

Keep checking University Library news or follow the Library on Twitter for the latest refurbishment developments. You can also subscribe to our news by email – just fill in your email address in the box on the left of this news item.


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