The Library isn’t just somewhere you can get books. It’s somewhere you can do your work on your own or with others, escape sensory overload and get some help with studying. This section of the toolkit will introduce Leeds Beckett Library and the services it can offer you.
Many students in the Autism&Uni surveys mentioned the library as somewhere they really enjoyed being, whether they needed some quiet space to get away from it all or find some help or just to get some work done. Leeds Beckett has specialist library staff who want to help you make the most out of your time at uni. They can help you with finding, choosing and using library resources, amongst many other things.
There is also a Skills for Learning team dedicated to supporting you with your academic research, writing, presentations and developing other areas that can affect your work like time management, using the software needed for your course and sorting out any issues you might have with maths, referencing and so on.
The Library is also more than a physical place full of stuff (and the people who work in it) – of a lot of the resources you need for your course are online and need to be accessed via the Library’s website as they don’t always appear in search engine results.
You can also manage your library account online, which can help with anxiety around forgetting your library PIN, not being sure how many books you have borrowed or ending up with library fines.
Please bear in mind that while most facilities are available to all students, to access some of the support mentioned below you will need to be registered with Disability Advice. There is a useful overview of services for disabled students, including autistic students, on the library website.
How could this affect me?
Places to study (and quiet spaces even when not studying)
Leeds Beckett has two libraries, one at each campus. They have the same facilities and you can use either or both, but the books and other resources (like DVD, games, CDs etc) are split between the two sites depending on the courses that are based there.
There are different types of study space, so even if you go in and find it a bit noisy, it’s not like that everywhere. There are group study areas (usually the bright and noisy places), silent study, bookable group meeting rooms and the Disability Resource area. This link explains a bit more, and also tells you where the computers are (although you can also bring your own or borrow a laptop in the libraries).
Disability Resource Areas
The Disability Resource Area (DRA) is a quiet study room in the Library that is only accessible to students registered with Disability Advice at Leeds Beckett. There is one at each campus. It’s not silent, but not noisy either, and it’s a good place to be around other students who may understand how you are feeling.
Face to face support
Learning Support Officer – Sue Smith is the current Learning Support Officer, and you can see her in the video below. Sue is your first point of call in the for anything related to your autism and studying or using the Library.
Help and Information Point – this is a desk near the entrance of each library where you can ask for help with your library account, IT problems or study-related queries like referencing or finding resources for an assignment.
Academic Librarian – there are really useful subject guides on the Library website that link to lots of relevant information and these also have a picture and contact details for the librarian for that subject. Your academic librarian knows all the best resources for your subject area and you can make an appointment to chat to them one-to-one.
Accessing support online and by phone
The subject guides are very useful, but sometimes you may have a more specific query or a technical problem. The Help and Information Points are staffed during the day, but out of hours or when you don’t really want to talk to a person face-to-face, you can get library and IT help via phone, email and online chat. Details here.
Managing your library account – and uni life – online
MyBeckett isn’t just for keeping up with your coursework and timetable. The Library tab at the top has lots of useful information and also helps you to see what books you have out, your library PIN so you can borrow items, reading lists, links to the Skills for Learning website for help with academic skills etc. You can even search the Library’s online resources from there, even on your phone.
What to do next?
Familiarise yourself with the library environment and resources for your course
Succeeding as a university student is about making the most of the opportunities you are given. Students in our survey said they regretted trying to cope for too long without accessing all the help they were entitled to, or finding spaces that worked for them.
Sometimes other people know more about what’s out there than you do, so it’s okay to not know exactly what you want.
Find somewhere in the library that feels comfortable and a productive place for you to work.
Ask for help and advice if you need it – this could be to help you find resources on your reading list, to help you find further resources on a topic that is of interest to you, or to find a suitable place to work
Make use of the software and tools available that help you to mindmap ideas, or can convert text into audio if you prefer to listen rather than read, or as well as reading. Training is available on software packages and SensusAccess enables you to automatically convert documents into a range of alternate media, including audio format.
Questions to think about
- How you been for a visit to the library? Make sure you attend your library induction when you start.
- Have you found who your Academic Librarian is? You may wish to book an appointment with them to discuss the support they can offer you.
- Do you know where you can find resources for your course?
- Have you worked independently anywhere other than at home/halls before?
- Have you tried techniques like mind mapping to work on a topic?
- Do you prefer to listen to information rather than reading, or do both simultaneously?