UVA Library Offers Top Tips for Checking Out Its Spaces

September 6, 2023
Students reading and on laptops on the McGregor Room of the Alderman Library

Students gather in the McGregor Room in Alderman Library, which is currently under renovation, but set to reopen in the spring semester. (Contributed photo)

Students are back on the University of Virginia’s Grounds, classes are in session, and the University Library is here to help.

UVA students can use the University Library – an umbrella term that includes six libraries across Grounds – to access books, iPads, databases, study spaces and even board games.

From the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library to the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library, students have a treasure trove of resources, making it easy to get overwhelmed. But UVA Library – and its librarians – are here to help.

Excellence Here Goes Everywhere, To Be Great and Good In All We Do
Excellence Here Goes Everywhere, To Be Great and Good In All We Do

Here are some tips on how to make the best use of the University Library from UVA’s undergraduate student success librarian, Haley Gillilan, and two alumnae who spent their entire college careers on the Library Student Council. Hallie Terry, who plans to be a librarian, and Lauren Askew, who majored in material science and engineering, gave us their advice for incoming students about using the Library.

Portrait of Lauren Askew

Lauren Askew, a 2023 graduate, recommends that new students find their own library study spots. (Contributed photo)

Be Not Afraid

Terry: The Library can seem overwhelming, or only something you need for class assignments or projects, but the Library can be used for so much more. You can host movie nights and explore the video collections; you can check out fun books to read, not just academic books. Just let yourself explore and you’ll find so much. Did you know that you can get board games through the Library, too?

Explore The Physical Spaces

Askew: Find your niche study space. Be sure to check out more hidden-away spots like the Fine Arts Library and the Music Library.

Terry: The Fine Arts Library is great. It’s farther out than libraries like Clemons or Brown, but I worked there for a semester, and quickly learned what a great space it is. It also has some of the most interesting books that you’ll find in the UVA Library collection, so I highly recommend browsing the shelves and finding a few new things.

Databases and Media Labs

Askew: Know that the Library gives you access to more than a thousand databases. I used these for engineering papers I had to write. Check out the Robertson Media Center and the Scholars’ Lab, currently on the third floor of Clemons. The makerspace and the 3-D printers and virtual reality headsets down there are super cool. You can even rent cameras, light kits and iPads. Your tuition is helping to pay for a lot of this stuff; you are allowed to use it!

Portrait of Hallie Terry

Hallie Terry, an aspiring librarian, spent all four of her years at UVA as a member of the Library Student Council. (Contributed photo)

Library Student Council

Terry: Some of my favorite memories in the libraries revolve around my involvement in Library Student Council. Hosting our annual escape rooms in different libraries has been such a fun experience and has allowed me to be able to get to know a different side of the libraries and see how many things they can offer beyond just a simple study space.

Just Do It

Askew: Just go to the Library. Just, go. The most helpful piece of advice anyone could have given me my first year was just this: You’re allowed to be here. Just go do stuff, try new things, and remember that the Library system is a safe space.

Gillilan: Remember that there is a staff person behind every book, online link and study space, making it all work together. Everything you see at the Library or click on the Library website is supported by the Library team. We’re all here to support your research and interests as a scholar in our community.

Media Contact

Molly Minturn

Content Specialist University of Virginia Library