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University of York Library
Library Subject Guides

#UoYTips – a Practical Guide to make your academic life easier

Access incredible resources

Everything you need to know to help you study

We have incredible resources to help you study (and play)...

You can get books in all kinds of ways at York...

Our books are for everyone. You don’t need to be a Postgraduate or member of staff, you don’t need to put in a special request - just find what you need on the shelves, and borrow it using our self-issue machines.

You’ll find most of what you need via our Reading Lists in the VLE at first, but when you want to start to build your knowledge of a topic and do more independent research, the library has literally millions of books, journals and databases.

YorSearch is the University's Library catalogue. It lets you search against every item the Library holds, both physical and electronic. You can look up anything we have on a particular topic, and it’s great for searching by keyword. It will give you links to ebooks when we have them, and for print books you can go and fetch them from the shelves yourself. If you can't get to campus there's our Book Takeaway Service to have an item sent to you in the post, or a chapter scanned and emailed to you. And if there’s a book you need that we don’t already have, just let us know.

Academic literature is about so much more than books: YorSearch will also show you journals, newspapers, government papers, audiovisual materials and a lot of other things besides. It also allows you to search our archive material, or you can use the archives catalogue Borthcat to explore this directly, alongside supporting information.

A huge amount of what we have is online. The Subject Guides have been put together by your Academic Liaison Librarians; there’s one for each Department. There you’ll find the databases we think are most useful for your particular subject and area of study.

How to check a book out of the library

Use YorSearch to find the location of the book.

Go to the location and find the book on the shelf.

Check the book out on one of ourself-issue machines.

IT Services

A goose steals the L from the Google logo

Your IT account will get you into a range of services including the ones listed on this page: use your username and password to sign into most things. Your username is usually your initials followed by a number (e.g. abc123).

As a member of the University you can download Microsoft Office 365 for free to your own devices.

The University uses Google Workspace for email, calendar and a wealth of other applications including Google Drive.

To sign into Google Workspace applications you'll need to use your full University email address (e.g. along with your password.

Be aware that a lot of the stuff you'll need to access will also require two factor authentication. It's a bit of a pain, but it keeps things more secure.

The Library website

At the moment you're looking at the #UoYTips Practical Guide. There are also Subject Guides for each Department here at York, full of useful information and links to the key resources: pick your Department from this list and have a look.

Over on the main library website there's a whole wealth of additional information which you can explore over time, but here we wanted to point you to a few pages to get you started. These will open in a new window so you can keep this list open.

  • Information for new students. This contains some great introductory advice on using our resources, and a to-do list of activities to get you going
  • Locations and opening hours. We have several library spaces both on campus and in town. This tells you where they are, the kinds of things they have in them, and when they're open
  • Borrowing. How many books can you borrow? How long can you keep them for? Will you get fined? The answers to all those questions and more can be found on the Borrowing page. (Although for the record the answers to those specific queries are: 75, we operate a Flexible Loans system which allows 8 weeks for books unless someone else requests them, and there's no fines unless someone else requests the item and you don't bring it back within the time stated in the email...)
  • LibAnswers. Answers to the library questions we get asked the most. If you don't find what you're looking for, submit a new question and we'll email you back.

Accessibility in the Library

Sources of information

We've considered some basic principles of searching for information so now let's consider some specific online sources in more detail, particularly in regard to sourcing academic materials.

Sometimes we'll be directed to particular bits of literature; sometimes we'll need to find things for ourselves. When you're starting out in your studies you'll be working with reading lists and the library catalogue, YorSearch, but you'll soon have to find your own examples. YorSearch can help with that too, but you may fare better with something like Google Scholar. And depending what you're searching for, or how precise your search needs to be, you might even need to explore advanced sources like bibliographic databases.

In this section we'll take a look in more detail at these and other online academic sources of information:

Reading Lists

For each module you take, you will find at least one Reading List. This curated list of potential reading matter will contain a variety of academic sources for you to work from.


The Library holds an awful lot of resources, both print and electronic. The Library catalogue, YorSearch, indexes pretty much everything we've got. It's particularly useful for finding things like books and journals.


Internet search engines are a great tool for finding information online. But with so much information out there, how can you make sure you're finding the best stuff?

Google Scholar

Eventually you're going to have to go beyond your reading list in search of academic literature. Google has a dedicated search engine for just searching across academic texts. It's really easy to use, and surprisingly effective for most needs. Find out more about how it works and how to use it.


There's times when Google Scholar just isn't enough. So the Library subscribes to specialist databases that let us search across multiple academic sources in a precise and controlled way. But what exactly do they have in them?

Grey literature

A lot of useful material isn't published in a conventional way. It's things like pamphlets and PDFs. We dig into this 'grey' literature, and look at how to find it.

Data sources

How can you get hold of data and statistics? We look at the sources available.

How to take out a book

@uoylibrary Here’s how to take out a book. You don’t need permission to do this: our books are on the open shelves. If the book you need is available, help yourself! Use the self-issue machine to put it on your account: there’s two on the Morrell ground floor, plus one on Morrell floor 2. #uniofyork #library #HowTo #UoYTips #LibrariesOfTikTok #libraryExplainer #freshers #york ♬ original sound - Uni of York library

What does that mean again?

We try to use straight-forward language to talk about our resources and services, but nevertheless if you're new to University there's a whole load of terms you may not have used before. If you come across a word or phrase and you're wondering what it really means, check out the Library Language guide, which includes over 125 definitions.