The refurbishment of the John Ryland's University library only felt like it took several months but it must have actually taken a couple of centuries because the downstairs foyer area now resembles a hi-tech robotised spaceport - all smooth chrome surfaces, odd shaped seating and swooshing card-activated doors.
While it may look a bit daft there have been some significant improvements here; there are plug in points for laptops, more self-service borrowing machines and a table of essential heavy stationary featuring staplers, hole-punches and a guillotine (which I have wanted to play with since I was in primary school).
Add to this the selection of books, articles and other resources available at the largest single site academic library in the UK and you have a really have something world-class here. Just don't try and tell that to everyone revising in here for their finals.
The John Rylands Library isn't just here for the students of Manchester University. After a recent £17m restoration project this library has become a major visitor attraction and not without good reason.
Not only is the building itself a wonderful example of neo-gothic architecture, but this library houses some of the most important manuscripts ever produced. And by this I mean texts like the oldest known surviving piece of the New Testament (dating from around 125AD) as well as a first edition of Shakespeare's sonnets! I highly recommend popping in if you're passing by.
I don't think I've ever actually managed to do much work in this place, despite the actual function for its existence. It's nothing to do with the library itself, it's just because I always get distracted by the sheer size of the place.
Wandering off the beaten track leads you into a real warren of shelves and tiny archives, and it's entirely possible to get extremely disorientated. I suppose it's also great for studying if you're into that sort of thing. You could even become one of those crazy people who stay in it all night over exam period.
There's a snack bar and computer clusters dotted around, and also the elusive staff themselves, the faerie folk. Leave a book out overnight, and in the morning it will be filed, documented and returned to its rightful location.
Not to be confused with the John Rylands Library on Deansgate, this library is located on the South campus of the University of Manchester and is a great place for students to find literature for their courses without having to pay the hefty prices of buying new texts from Blackwell's.
I missed my library tour in fresher's week therefore I was always completely disoriented when it came to exploring this library. I mainly stuck to blue 2 and 3 where the books on languages and linguistics are kept, occasionally branching out to green or orange and getting lost in the labyrinth of corridors before finding somewhere to sit. I tended to avoid the library in exam time as the chaotic atmosphere and queues for the computers (when you really need to look something up and half the students are on facebook...grr) are irritating and not conducive to revision.
The short loan section is on the ground floor and is really useful to find texts which have all been taken out in the normal library. I learnt to photocopy and return the texts straight away as the fines are hefty and soon mount up at £1 a day. You can then reward yourself with a coffee in the little café next door to that section.
My favourite memory of the library was as part of a tutorial for my course when we got to go to into a special little room tucked away in a corner. The room was complete with a lady with white gloves who showed us some of the earliest forms of European printing including Gutenberg's Bible, which I think had been brought over from the other John Rylands library. Wow! If there's anything specialist and delicate that you'd like to see then you can make an appointment at the front desk.
I like buildings in which it's not just possible, but easy to get lost. This is one such building. Let's get lost.
As a history student all my business was in the blue department. The blue department's easy. Three floors, accessible via the main entrance, computer catalogues on the ground floor, computer clusters on the first floor - it's worth noting, though, that these computer clusters are most probably the busiest in the entire university. If you've work to do, then, you need to budget a waiting time into your schedule. If you just need to print something off or whatever, you're best going elsewhere. There's no way of knowing as to how long you'll need to queue.
I genuinely pity any current first-years. The layout is disorientating enough as it is. However, the place has just undergone a mass refurbishment which entailed that the entire ground floor and main entrance was, for about six months, completely shut off. The alternative was to entre via a smaller, auxiliary entrance and work your way through sectioned-off study spaces and endless stairwells to whatever you needed - confusing enough for a veteran, but for a fresher it must have been a nightmare.
But the work's all paid off, and now the place looks nicer than ever. Their timing couldn't of been more perfect, either. Just when it's become the case that I'll never have to use it again.
This library gives me a headache, not because I've often no choice but to be a student and do my work and be in here, but because it's just a chaotic, organisational nightmare.
Rewind back to before Christmas and I could be warned to have thrown some profanities around the place. It was ridiculous. You couldn't find anything. Yes I was a new student but come on, libraries are supposed to be helpful things if not persuading the reluctuant student to pick up a book. This place was the most off-putting library I've ever experienced. Seriously couldn't find the exit or entrance half the time. The temporary signs were ridiculous, definitely contradictory. What's this nonsense of orange, blue, green 1, 2, 3, what?!
Since then it's improvement has been that you enter through some spinny revolving doors, so yes you know where the entrance and the exit is, finally. The green and purple mish mash of colours, with the cyber type fonts aren't to my taste, absolutely contrasting if you just walk on upstairs. The escalator works though yay and now students can't stay away with the bean bangs for snoozing and sky sports and news on telly. The reception area does give you some relief that when you were constantly getting lost prior to the new year for some good reason then.
Still, it's an organisational nightmare, definitely not ergonomically designed with the student in mind, umm who is it for? More computers and quiet areas that are actually quiet areas please! Don't get me started on the computers. There's things in life that you just have to put up with, and being a student here, is unfortunately one of them.
The John Rylands university library is your trusty companion, supporting you through academic life. Johnny R never fails you.
It has recently undergone a renovation on blue ground to now resemble the future.. or what they thought the future was in the 60s.
Avoid blue though unless you need to use a computer because it has suicide grey floors, overhead lighting and is generally quite loud and busy. The best places to work are red 2 - a small little known room at the back; green 3 which has large tables for those who like to spread work out; purple is nice but there is an aisle running through so if you're loud whilst walking you get a few disapproving look.
During exam period, get there before 10 to guarantee a spot. The study rooms are definitely recommended for group work and can be booked through the student portal.
For such a large library, there aren't as many books as you would expect. Quite often, books on your reading list aren't in the library at all so it could be better stocked.. sometimes the staff aren't terribly friendly so don't go in expecting a literary chat. Aint gonna happen.
The library lounge cafe has a meagre selection of sandwiches so I'd say take your own lunch or go to eat elsewhere. If you're easily distracted by people you know then be warned that you're likely to bump into familiar faces in Johnny.
My university library, where I have been an undergraduate and postgraduate for the last four years.
I do have a personal affiliation with the library and I do find myself being affectionate towards it, but unlike Lauren, I am going to try to be a little more objective.
Basically, its not as good as a lot of university libraries. being an English and History student I have experienced its range and its limitations fairly often. Its amazing what it doesnt have, and how few copies of what it does have it does have.
Also, its only open 24 hours during exam periods. I find this a little stupid, as lots of top universities have 24-7 libraries.
Also, they are trying to save money by replacing staff with machines and this is an absolute nightmare. The machines do not work properly, and I personally prefer people.
Finally, it was half-shut for 6 months this year and the changes are so minor that I am furious.
The John Rylands University, in relation to its parent institution on Deansgate, is a poor comparison. It is labyrinthine, disorganised, claustrophobic, and poorly lit. And that is on a good day.
Still, the library has one of the largest collections in the UK, and the sheer number of resources available to the students is phenomenal. The difficulty lies in the ease of accessibility in terms of getting around the library and finding what you need. The library is split into cores of different colours, and is filled with dead end corridors, tiny stair cases, and Ghostbusters-style low ceilinged rooms lined with bookshelves. I try to get in and out as fast as possible.
One of the better aspects of the library is the individual study rooms, which are in old, bookshelf lined rooms, which have been given a modern lift by being closed off with glass walls. The rooms are fantastic to work in, and are fitted with Televison screens which link to the University's computer network. I would urge you to book one out and see how useful the facilities can be.
The refurbishment also gave a much needed revamp to the entrance foyer, providing much better seating, and a Café area, which allows the use of the library as a working space to be somewhat easier on the students. I would recommend a reorganisation as to make the library easier to navigate, and then, perhaps, I will think of it more fondly!!!
Pretty and grand on the outside, really '60s on the inside. But a cavernous, labyrinthine structure, just what I like. Brightly color-coded floors, stuffy carpeting, and plenty of confused young students.
Checking out class materials becomes extremely competitive, and the persnickety staff always try to close ten minutes early. Throw you out in the rain and everything.
Confusingly there are three "John Rylands" libraries in Manchester. This is the largest and also it's not open to the general public if I remember correctly (you certainly had to show a student card to get in the last time I tried).
It is basically the library for the University of Manchester, and therefore has to be huge to deal with the large variety of subjects on offer and the huge amount of students.
There are plenty of free-to-use computers in here, but again you need a student login to get them to work. I always found the law library the most conducive to getting work done, but it was only rarely that I ever tried :P
The largest Manchester University library there is, has a vast range of books and journals available.
The library is only accesible to the University of Manchester students, or, staff, as an I.D card is needed to gain entry.
In addition to this, the building is also home to a number of computer suites where work can be carried out. However, these are generally really busy and difficult to get on.
Do not underestimate the power of John Rylands. Two years after graduating and even walking past this place gives me a Pavlovian urge to throw up and then burst into tears.
However, I'm pretty sure that without JRL I would have never graduated and for this I am eternally grateful. If, like me, you have no attention span and have lost interest in your degree towards the end, it may be your only saviour. As well as having the obligatory selection of books, toilets and windows, the John Rylands also has a nice coffee bar, a good computer suite and lots of places to curl up and die.
To utilise JRL you need to make sure you pick the right area and abide by The Rules. If you need to crack on and do some work then don't choose Blue One. You might as well be in Tiger Tiger on a Monday night.
If you have the fear and are unable to retain any information or string a sentence together, then you need Green Floor. Stat. Green Floor is where the Law and Medical texts are housed, and as such the place is filled with over achievers of the highest level. These people arrive at 8am and leave past midnight. It is serious hardcore study, and if you're anything like me it will put the shits up you so much you start doing some work yourself. Just be sure to keep your head down. Combined, law and medical students are pretty much qualified in how to kill people and get away with it, and they don't take kindly to people breaking the following rules:
1) No talking. Silence is God.
2) No phones. Answer your phone in the corridor. Silence is God.
3) No food that stinks. No pasta salad, no hot paninis, no flasks full of soup you little five year old.
4) No tin foil. Wrap up your sad little sandwiches in cling-film or face hours of squeaky unpeeling.
5) No relationships. Want to get to know each other better and hang out? Go somewhere else. Everyone here is angry and alone and they hate you.
6) No watercolours.
I learnt No. 6 the hard way. I had twenty four hours to write, script, design and storyboard an anime film for my Mickey Mouse Degree and thought Green Floor would be the perfect place to get this done. Lots of light, big open windows and plenty of space on those long desks, right? Wrong.
I arrived in mid-medical-meltdown. People were frantically reading and scribbling and slamming their faces into books. They didn't take kindly to me opening up a sketch book and tinkling my paint brush in a little jam jar. People who are about five minutes away from jumping out of a window don't like arty types getting all up in their science. So yeah, Rule Number Six: No Watercolours.
I'm a nerd. I love computers and I love to read. If I can combine them both, happy times. So that's why I usually take my laptop with me in the library, where I can be surrounded by lots and lots of books. When I First got into this library, I felt like I'm in a Harry Potter movie. No exaggeration. The interior stair, the paintings that with all them people that meant something for the university. The way the books are arranged. I feel like Hermione, spending hours, looking through the books, reading the history of the place and taking notes not to forget a thing.
I'm also quite excited when I have to go in there to read for university. I've noticed that I don't assimilate the information so well if I'm at home, in my pjs. The environment of that library gives me an impulse to read more and more. Sometimes the library is open 24/7, just before exams. You can find me at 2 in the morning, reading some criminology stuff and drinking lots of coffee not to waste a moment. Peaceful and lovely. Now that I'm thinking about it, I want to go there and study a bit, and carry all sort of books around.
P.S if you don't have a laptop but you need a computer, they have lots, that you can use, while reading a book as well. So it's great if you want to do your essays in there.
I only went into the library twice during my entire time at university. The first was just an introduction which I slept through, the second was to borrow a book that I knew someone else needed just to increase my chances of getting a better mark than them. Quite a nice library though.
This huge library is students of University of Manchester only. A UoM student card is required to swipe in and enter the facility.
This library boasts a massive array of books on 4 floors, multiple computer clusters and large working areas separated into Social (talking allowed), Quiet (noise restricted) and Silent (no noise at all) zones dependent on the working conditions required for the student.
Of course, during the term this library is popular with all students yet during exam season, this library, even though one of the biggest in the country, is packed to the rafters with students cramming for their exams which is when I personally avoid it at all.
Its interior is comfortable and welcoming with friendly service on all floors, food facilities are good and the IT services available are top notch.
Definitely recommended for a working space for UoM students.
John Rylands library services the students of Manchester University. And how! It is enormous and well stocked with all your study needs. My girlfriend has a second cousin who works there and he slacks off all day. So, if you're looking for work you might want to check that avenue. The internet connection is a little on the slow side, but if that is a real worry, then I might suggest that you learn to put things in perspective a little better. I used to have good chat with one of the security men, so that earns the building extra kudos.
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