Rate Your Library: Which should you go to?

Alex Zardis gives us an overview of the study sanctuaries at Cardiff University.

It’s strange that I find myself here in a position to be able to write this article, a guide to the libraries of Cardiff University.

If you’d have told my 17-year-old self I wouldn’t have believed you, but things really switched up when I transferred from my cushty degree in Business and Humanities at the former polytechnic University of Bristol to studying Engineering at Cardiff University. Little did I know that I was selling my soul to the devil and that I’d be tortured by the immense amount of work that it requires and the amount of time I’d have to spend in libraries. But none of us are here because university is easy and as we all know there are so many good things that can come from it: and on that bombshell here is my guide to the libraries of Cardiff University, for those who are desperate to not have your summer plans ruined by re-sits.

This article will cover the main libraries of the Cathays park campus, starting with the Science Library. The Science Library is probably the fanciest, oldest library of all at Cardiff University and the first time you go in there you may have to double take and remind yourself that you aren’t in Hogwarts topping up on your magic skills  – now that sounds a lot better than Engineering. The main section of this library is a bit hidden and not entirely obvious, you have to enter the library and take an immediate left, going up the narrow staircase. There you’ll find the main studying area, full of tables and in a pretty grand setting. It’s a pretty good library and there are never many distractions, it’s well lit and generally a nice place to work. One thing I should mention is that the tables here are cornered off so that you can only spread your work across the designated space for one person, but it’s decent enough though. The tables are also separated underneath the desks too, so if you’re as tall as Peter Crouch and don’t want to be squeezed in like a pack of sardines, then I’d recommend going somewhere else so that you can stretch out a bit. I.T room 2 on the ground floor of the Science Library is a good place to use a computer if you need to use one. Closing time here is half 9 during the week and it’s open until 5 at the weekends. There’s also a coffee shop and a canteen on the ground floor if you need some food or drink, plus vending machines for out of hours coffee and snacks.

[pullquote]You may have to do a double take and remind yourself that you aren’t in Hogwarts.[/pullquote]

The next library I’ll talk about is the arts and social studies library (ASSL) or humanities for short, most people reading this will probably know the place far too well or at least be aware of it. For those who haven’t, it’s the biggest library on campus and is spread over 4 floors. Downstairs is the new e-lounge centre which houses computers, sofas and private study rooms to book. If you’re planning on booking a study room, I’d recommend doing so in the e-lounge as study rooms on the other floors are situated right next to studying areas and the walls are paper thin.  The last time we booked a ‘private’ room upstairs while me and some friends were ‘revising’ our friend introduced us to the hilarious old spice adverts, needless to say the neighbouring students were not impressed and a library attendant was quick to the scene. The rooms are fine for non-comedy related education however.

The best places to work are at the back end of the library on any random floor of your choice, though sometimes it does get quite loud though with people gossiping and giggling. This one’s open until midnight Monday-Thursday, half 5 on Saturday and 9.30pm on Friday and Saturday, perfect closing time for a Friday night victory pint down The Woody to celebrate conquering your fear of the library. Just don’t let one turn into another if you want to stand a chance of coming back the next day.

Trevithick library is the library that my department is based at, though strangely I really don’t like working there. I think it’s a personal opinion though and I put it down to the fact that working somewhere else means I at least feel like I’m away from uni. Some of my friends from humanities and optometry have been known to go down to ‘Trev’ to study though, so they must find it a nice place to work and I would say the same is possible for anyone else reading this. It was refurbished and reopened in my first year of uni so it’s pretty much brand new and is really well equipped with plenty of desk space, loads of computers and a generally nice modern design. There are 4 main study rooms that can be booked by the library staff. Trevithick library closes at midnight during the week, 5.30pm on Saturdays and 9.30pm on Sunday.

One of the smaller libraries in the Cathays park campus is Senghennydd Library, situated in the Maths building, just down the road from the Student’s Union (Sherman Theatre and Senghennydd Road side). Being one of the smaller libraries it’s not as busy and can be a pretty comfortable place to work, also it’s the closest library to students living near Salisbury Road (it takes me less than a minute to walk there). There is a little computer room upstairs if you need to use it as well. Closing time here is 9.30pm Mon-Fri, 5.30pm Sat and closed on Sundays. Bute library is also another small and similar library and closer for those nearer that end of Cathays and Talybont way.

The last study room I’ll be talking about is the Julian Hodge building off of Colum Road, half way between the humanities building and Talybont. This place is the devil’s work, a 24 hour study building where the ‘fun’ never ends and students work around the clock. I noticed while walking to town in the late evening with my mates from the top end of Maindy Road that you can see people up there studying away while we were going out. Despite my apparent negative attitude, this place is really essential for the university and it is a great facility for all of its students. It’s obviously open all the time, and there are over 100 computers to use up in the IT room which have all been re-furbished over the summer break just gone. There is also a canteen downstairs which can be used as a place for a bit of group study.

There are a few more libraries on campus (Law, Music) and also those away from Cathays on the Heath park campus. Check out the libraries section of the University website for any more information, and there’s also a phone app for Cardiff University that tells you if there are computers free at the libraries or not, which you may find useful in exam period when they’ll be full up. That about rounds it up, hopefully this has been useful for any students who need somewhere new to work, and if all the work is getting to you then remember that it’ll all be over soon and then summer will be here!