Library of the Week: 12th February: University of Chester Library! Find out more about the library and their wonderful collections, study spaces and the services available in this new post by Jenny Warren, Collections and Content Librarian – thank you for taking part!
A brief history
The University of Chester was founded in 1839, originating as a teacher training college, and achieving university status in 2005. Education continues to be one of the core areas for the university, but we now offer around 350 course combinations. Alongside traditional undergraduate and postgraduate routes a range of foundation and apprenticeship degrees combine conventional university study with learning at work.
The library is part of Learning and Information Services (LIS) providing a wide range of IT and library services across the university. Library services are provided collaboratively by three teams: Collections, Content, Discovery & Research; Customer Services; and Learning & Teaching.
Libraries are at the heart of each of our learning sites across Chester and the North West. The resources in each library are tailored to support the main areas of learning and teaching at that site.
In addition to books, journals, and other resources, our buildings provide computers, silent and group study zones, and bookable study rooms. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout our spaces. Take a look at each of our sites below to explore their facilities in more detail.
- Seaborne Library at Exton Park, Chester
- The library at Wheeler, Chester
- The learning resource centre at Creative Campus, Kingsway, Chester
- The library at Queen’s Park, Chester
- Health and Social Care Libraries
- Guildhall Library at University Centre Shrewsbury
- The learning resource centre at Time Square, Warrington
In summer 2023, the university received funding from the Office for Students to refurbish Seaborne Library. Following student-focused evaluations of the space, the newly designed workspaces include study pods, collaborative work areas, media suites, configurable teaching spaces, a sensory space and postgraduate centre. Staff and students agree that this has been a real transformation of the space.
The new-look library can be seen in the Student Union led Seaborne Library Tour video.
Collectively, our buildings hold over 300,000 print books. Print resources are organised using the Dewey Decimal Classification system. We also have access to over a million digital books, and 65,000 full text e-journals and subject specific databases. Long-serving colleagues recall the virtual ‘ribbon cutting’ launching our first e-book collection taking place 20 years ago this year. Like many other libraries in higher education, we now take a ‘digital first’ approach.
Discover our resources using Library Search.
Our main collections are primarily developed to support learning and teaching activity. Library teams work with academic staff to identify and provide access to materials on reading lists. Key objectives for our resource list policy include:
- To provide accessible and inclusive resources
- Provide equitability of access
- And a digital first approach to support access and accessibility whilst developing more sustainable collections.
Beyond this, we build our collections via On Demand services. We invest in books and e-books to strengthen collections for the university’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Institutes (currently in the areas of Health and Society, Culture and Society, Sustainability and Environment, and Regional Economy) and utilise interlibrary loans and digital document supply services to support research at all levels. We’re not currently set up to share our own resources via these routes, but this is one of our longer-term goals and hope this can be achieved once we move to a new Library Management System (LMS) in the next year or so.
With research in mind, ChesterRep is our online repository for research produced by members of the university – designed to collate, store, and aid discoverability of research to the wider research community.
The Collections, Content, Discoverability and Research team are currently working on formalising a Research and Special Collections Policy to help us preserve, enhance and promote our more unique collections. Our Special Collections currently include:
- The Flash Fiction collection – the world’s largest archive of flash-fiction anthologies, collections, magazines, and secondary texts.
- Chester Archaeological Society Collection – connecting to our home city’s archaeological international importance with journals from the Chester Archaeological Society Library,
- Titles published by Chester Academic Press – original research, professional practice and creative work associated with the University.
The library supports wider institutional priorities and events. In line with our aims to enhance wellbeing, and promote equality, diversity and inclusion in our community we have developed several themed reading lists (e.g., Black History Collection; Disability Studies; LGBTQI+; Sustainability Collection; Working class voices). We promote these resources alongside events such as the university’s annual Diversity Festival which is open to the wider Chester community. Our most recent themed list is the Sanctuary Collection supporting the university’s work towards University of Sanctuary status.
A project undertaken by a team of library staff and Students as Partners in 2023 helped to put our objective to support diversification of library resources firmly on the agenda. Watch the video created as part of the project on what diversifying reading lists means here at the University of Chester: library decolonisation and diversification.
Visiting our libraries
Our libraries are open to visitors – the spaces and resources are open to all for research and educational purposes. Full details on how to access library resources for visitors can be found on the Public/Visitor access page. Anyone wishing to make regular use of our collections can join as an external borrower or register through the SCONUL Access scheme.
For any questions around accessing our collections please contact the Customer Services team on 01244 511234 / email@example.com or visit us in person, at a helpdesk during normal office hours.
To keep up to date with our news and developments, follow uochesterLIS on Instagram.
Jenny Warren, Collections and Content Librarian
All images copyright of University of Chester, reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holder.