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ARU Library Cambridge: more than books (Part One)


Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Vision and Hearing Sciences
Course: BOptom (Hons) Optometry
Category: Vision and hearing sciences

8 February 2018

Join Optometry student Sonija for a quick tour of the University Library in Cambridge, including study spaces and self-service kiosks.

In Cambridge, the University Library is perfect for you, whether you're looking for a book you need for an assignment or just need a place to chill out while studying.

In this blog, we'll look at some of the main spaces and facilities in the library. In the second part of my library blog I look at some of the materials you can access, and the support that's on offer.

Enter the library

First of all, we only allow ARU staff and students to use the Library. You need to tap your student/staff card to get in and out:

electronic indoor entrance gate

Once you get in, you'll see an information kiosk which shows you the layout of the Library:

large electronic indoor map

This screen shows you how many PCs are in use and the availability the rest of the computers in the Library:

large screen displaying where free seats are available in the library

On the ground floor, we have some Quick Access PCs for students who just want to do a quick search for their timetable or print some notes:

large room with PCs, quick access pc sign in the front

If you need a quiet place to use a computer, there is a computer classroom next to the Help Desk on the ground floor. If it's not booked, students are welcome to get in and use the PCs.

large room with desks and computers

If you want to search for a book, you can use the Digital Library Terminal:

view of a screen with library information

Study zones

The ARU Library is far from an average study place. It's split into three zones to meet different needs we have at different times:

library signages about study ones

Group study - discuss work, plan projects, share ideas (ground floor). Most of us often need a place to discuss projects and assessments; but we don’t necessary want to go to a crowded place. So… the ground floor in the Library is just the perfect place for us. There are plenty desks and computers at any time even it works on a first comes first served basis. Plus, we have two large study rooms and plenty of study pods (which I will show you later):

large open area with desks with group study zone sign on the wall

Quiet study - whisper! (1st floor and 2nd floor). Libraries are mostly for study and research. If the ground floor is too crowded or not calm enough, I'd suggest you the first or the second floor. A brief (whispered!) conversation is fine on these floors but do remember to keep it quiet:

quiet study zone sign in an open desk area

Silent study - shhhh! (3rd floor). This area is set aside for those who prefer the complete silence. Talking is not permitted - which allows me to escape from any distraction. No talking at all! Just be silent and do your work:

open desk area with a large silent study zone sign

Phone Zone (1st floor). I really appreciate that ARU is providing this zone which allows the students to make a quick call - even in the library:

glass wall with phone zone sign

Study spaces

We have a lot of study spaces to choose from: study rooms, study pods or silent study spaces. I'd recommend to book a study space online via the Library website, so you can secure your space in advance. It is FREE! Every student is allowed to book two time slots per type per day, six hours in total per day and max 20 hours within two weeks.

We got six study rooms and they are located on different floors:

view through a closed door into a study room
room with desk, chairs and PC & large screen

Study pods:

half-open area with desk, PC and large screen, seatings round

Silent study space:

desks separated by dividers in a library

We do have some desks around the study pods area which do not need to be booked. Feel free to sit there and study if there is no other study space available:

two people reading at a desk

Tech and help

In the Library, we use a self-service system to borrow, return and renew books. You just need to tap your student card.

When returning your books, you need to place them on the shelf on the right-hand side. If your books have been requested by someone else already, then put them into the box on the left-hand side:

library borrow and return kiosk

If it is you who requested a book, you'll receive an email to pick them up from these shelves which are located right next to the entrance. I always do it, haha! If you'd like to know how to request one, please read the second part of my Library blog:

a large shelf system with books

Photocopiers and printing facilities. You can print your work from a USB, upload your work to the ARU Web Printing Service or do a print job directly from your Library PC. You can pay for the printing by topping up your student card:

  • cash via Money Loaders in the Library
  • debit/credit card via Money Loaders or Web Payment

There are plenty of printers on each floor:

two photocopiers in front of a wall
large photocopier in front of a window

After printing your files, you can bind/cut here:

a desk with puncholder, staples and cutting equipment

Borrow a laptop

Sometimes, I borrow a laptop when mine is running out of battery. You can borrow a laptop for up to three hours, from this self-service machine on the ground floor. You can take it and use it outside the Library but remember you need to return it on time (otherwise, you may need to pay £5/hr for the overdue).

In Cambridge, there are 36 laptops available for borrowing:

large cupboard with closed boxes

IT drop-ins

I highly recommend this! There is a drop-in advice service on the ground floor, open from 11.30-2.30. Their room is next to the study pods. If there is no adviser there, please go to the help desk (they might be there).

In the first semester, my Mac was hacked by a virus that kept changing my browser. Sometimes, there was a pop-out message that my browser was updated. It was quite annoying. I went to Library IT Drop-In and asked for help. It only took 15 minutess for the IT adviser to fix my computer. He also gave me advice how to protect my Mac.

You can also book an appointment with an IT adviser; it is usually a 30-minute appointment. Also, there are one-to-one IT skills trainings (60 minutes). You can ask them about how to use Microsoft apps or a range of accessibility tools.

two people talking in front of a help desk sign

Optometry at ARU

Sonija studied BOptoms (Hons) Optometry at ARU in Cambridge. We now offer a four-year degree course in Optometry, which includes a Masters year. It allows you to register with the General Optical Council as a fully qualified optometrist when you graduate.

Find out more about our degree courses, and student life at ARU, at an Open Day.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.