The new University of Birmingham library opened its doors in 2016. For any UoB student, it is a staple of their working week. Perfect for individual and group study, it is fully equipped with silent study areas, booths and group study rooms (which can be booked online through their system) and casual sofa-style seating. It isn’t uncommon to spot someone in there at all hours of the day and night – open 24 hours, it is great for an all-night study session to get those assignments finished. Or, if you’re there in between lectures, there is a vibrant cafe on the ground floor that serves a range of food and drinks, including vegan, gluten-free and halal sandwiches and cakes. 

The new University of Birmingham library

Birmingham Library
Source: UoB library services Twitter

The library is spread out over five floors. The ground floor is home to a popular cafe – quite noisy for work, but most tables are equipped with plug sockets if you feel like working somewhere with a bit of atmosphere – and a large study area (the Wolfson Room). The study section is split up into a group area where talking and eating are allowed and a silent study area. This section is very popular, especially around exam times so you’ll have to get there early! On this floor is also the main desk and IT services, as well as a second group study area behind the main desk, equipped with printers and computers.

The first and second floors are largely the same, and books are roughly arranged by college. Social Sciences books are on the first and second floor and Arts and Law and Life and Environmental Science on the second floor as well. There are groups of study desks on these floors, as well as computers, self-service check out desks and printing/photocopying services.

Half of the third floor is given over to individual study desks with partitions to help avoid distractions – very useful when that deadline is fast approaching! Books on this floor are for EPS and Medical and Dental Sciences (they have their own library so this is a very small section). 

The fourth floor is largely unused by students, as it consists mostly of meeting areas. 

Unless requested, books will renew automatically, so you can keep them for as long as you need. 

Books and Collections

Birmingham Library
Source: University of Birmingham webpage

Most books required for your course, especially if they are not changed year on year, can be found in the library. For some courses, like English, the library will stock lots of copies of a book if the whole year is studying it. For some that require large textbooks that tend to be expensive, they might only stock 5 or 10 copies. Some sections also have 1 non-loanable copy so that library users have access to one when the rest are on loan.

On the second floor, they have a media collection, particularly useful for drama or film students, but it is available to all students. 

Unfortunately, new book ordering is currently on hold due to covid policies. 

COVID-19 Policies

Birmingham library Covid Safe
Source: University of Birmingham webpage

After working hard to reopen after the first national lockdown, the UoB library is currently running at a slightly reduced capacity. As of 22nd November 2020, the current opening hours are 8am-10pm on weekdays and 10am-6pm on weekends. To go, students must book a slot in advance online. Slots are either all day (you can go at any point during that day) or booked on the day (a small number are released on the day for shorter visits). To check in, students need a university ID card and to complete NHS track and trace. 

Some services are currently unavailable as a result of COVID restrictions. IT services are still running but not a face-to-face service. Laptop loans and group study rooms are unavailable because of the risk of transmission between groups. 

There are measures in place to ensure that students feel safe using the library. Masks must be worn at all times (unless exempt) and social distancing is in place. Books are available on click-and-collect and returns are done outside – you can still browse, though, if you aren’t sure what you need. You can collect books from the Wolfson Room, which is not currently a study space.