Students at our London branch campus, like all students, rely heavily on the resources they have access to. As a result, we interviewed the Head of Learning Resources, Ihar Ivanou, to explain more about what’s available to help you get the most from your time at Ulster University London branch campus.
Hi Ihar! Thanks for agreeing to talk with us.
No problem. It’s good to have an opportunity to talk through the services and facilities we provide at our London campus.
Let’s start with the library. What advice would you give to students who want to use it?
Students have access to qualified library staff who can support their information needs and also guide them on a number of other enquiries. The best advice I can give is to use them. Even if these staff don’t know the right answer, they will know someone else who can help.
Can you briefly explain the library facilities are available to students please?
The library is a space for individual study and group study. As well as a communal area that allows conversation and collaboration, there are quiet study rooms for those who want some peace and quiet.
We have great WiFi, desktops and laptops, and plugs for smartphone devices – this is all available to students. Our library also provides students with printed resources – mostly textbooks – to ensure convenience of access.
Students can take out up to 10 books at a time, they can search the library’s catalogue online or browse the shelves. Some of the popular textbooks are often on loan already but students can place a reservation where they get an automatic notification when the book becomes available. All books are issued for 3 weeks as default.
For some of the most popular books, we have a reference collection which contains a copy, so students can come to the library and access this content as and when they please.
Electronic library resources, such as ebooks and databases, are delivered online. Regardless of their location, students can access them in the same way using their standard university logins.
Is all of this explained to students on arrival?
Students are automatically enrolled in the library when they start here. In their first week, we run a session where we explain how it works, the types of services available, and how to get in touch with members of staff.
How important is it for students to use the library?
We work very closely with the academic team, which means we purchase resources according to the written list provided by tutors. What we have in the library is dictated by the content of the course programmes that the students study, which makes it a vital resource for good grades and success.
We also have a study skills advisor available almost every day. They are members of the academic team and can really help answer any questions that students have in-between classes. If I were a student, I’d be making use of these people.
Are there any trends in student learning that would be useful to discuss?
There are. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that a lot of students struggle to get the most out of traditional textbooks – they are written and structured differently than most books and online information we now come across in our daily lives. To address this, we created a session for students, which they attend in their first week, where we teach them how to use academic textbooks to help them maximise their learning.
We have also seen a lot movement to mobile learning, with many students relying heavily on their mobile phones for organisation and management of study notes.
What time is the library open?
The library in the London branch campus is open Monday to Thursday, 8.15am – 8.00pm; Fri 8.15am – 6.30pm; Sat 9.00am – 5.00pm.
And what if students want to study outside of these times?
All our students have access to the SCONOL scheme.
The SCONOL scheme? What’s that?
It’s a scheme of cooperation for academic libraries in Britain. Students can apply for access to other university libraries through the SCONOL scheme, which is fantastic. After their application has been approved by the university, they can study in several other libraries if that’s more convenient.
A lot of our students don’t live around the campus, they come from far away and would prefer access to a facility that’s closer to home. Some students come here for classes but they may go to another university library to study. It’s great to offer that level of flexibility.
What are the most popular facilities in the library with students?
I would say the computers and WiFi. The laptops are popular, especially if students are working as a group – they can pass the laptop around or have several laptops in play. Laptops can be taken to other areas of the campus and used in presentations if they wish. Laptops can be borrowed from the Library service desk. They can be used anywhere on campus.
What can students look forward to?
Plenty! We’ve just started our own eBook provision, in addition to what the University provides to students who study in London. We’re developing our collection of printed journals so it will continue to grow.
We’ve also started work on an online tool called MyCampus. Now it’s smartphone optimised webpages, but behaves as a very simple app. This is a result of our anticipation to meet the needs of students, whether they are off campus or on campus. We want students to have all the information that they need in their pocket.
What’s the feedback on MyCampus been like so far with the students involved?
Very positive! They also came up with a lot of amazing ideas for future developments.
Finally, speaking more on the needs of students, how do you become aware of them?
We are continually looking at the programmes that are running, the admissions criteria, the outcomes and expectations. But also, based on our experiences, we can predict some needs.
Students also provide us with direct feedback so we can develop our facilities and staff.
Thank you so much for giving a deeper insight into what’s available to students.
You’re very welcome. It’s been a pleasure.
How can students get in touch with the library?
Telephone: +44(0)20 7656 8448