5 reviews of Senate House Library in English
Big with lots of texts individual uni libraries sometimes don't have, but not particularly pretty and some bits of it smell like hospital, bizarrely.
I studied English and this place was good for a few extra texts on film, as well as translations of some things my library only had in German.
I was a frequent visitor to senate house library whilst reading History at university in London… The main reason myself and my classmates visited was due to the fact that we received free membership throughout our studies. The library at Queen mary’s was nice, but due to the demand for books, it was often necessary to visit senate house.
The purpose of senate house library is to provide students throughout the university of London the resources required in order to pursue research in order that they might ascertain and maintain the highest international standards, for under-graduates and post gradueates alike.
The building itself is stange, the design certainly ahead of its time. It has a cold, unique exterior and I feel presents an aura of totalitarianism. But then what do I know, I am a history graduate….
If you ever use Senate House Library, use it some more. It has recently had a cut-back in funding (see http://www.ull.ac.uk/news/hefcereview.shtml) and needs a bit of support.
As for decor and atmosphere, the library itself is a tribute to dusty academia housed within an imposing, dictatorial structure. Think the Ministry of Information with beards. You can walk from the west side of the lobby to the east in about 2.8 seconds, which is pretty frightening considering how tall the building is. It is like an oak tree, gnawed at the base by a beaver. On the upside, it doubles as a handy short-cut between Russell Sq. and Tottenham Court Rd.
It can be a bit frustrating getting to the 6th floor at the moment because of refurbishment. You have to use 3 different lifts - and as each lift will only take you 2 floors, you feel a moral inclination to walk instead. Your legs will not forgive you for this. Legs have no morals.
I have to admit, my experience of the Senate House isn’t as mysterious as these previous reviews. Reading them now makes me wish I had some intriguing stories to impart, but alas, I have none. However, what I can tell you that the Senate house is a very good library because it is dead silent once you’re in their reading rooms. It’s old looking and the tables look like they are literally dying. The last time the place seems to have been renovated was probably in the 1970’s. Adjectives like ‘dusty,’ ‘rustic,’ and ‘gothic’ are a few ways of describing it. The bookshelves are also wooden and look like they’ve accumulated some dust over the decades. Some single tables are placed in the corner of the large room, which makes it a little scarier. I couldn’t associate its reading rooms with 'spacious' because at times I found it too claustrophobic, particularly when trying to find books. During the sunny days, it would be a pleasure to study by the window with the sun beaming down on me as I marched on towards achieving a good enough grade to get me a well paid job, yet the nights… oh the night were cold. Much of my time there were spent searching for books with the 1997, large screen computers on the loud, busy floor. Yet once I started using that old style lift, that required you to drag the rail-like doors to the left, with both hands, and push a large protruding button to get to your floor, then I felt trouble. Hmm, maybe I’ll celebrate this year’s Halloween party here.
The Senate House building itself is spectacular, very impressive. They say Hitler was hoping to take it over once he had bombed London into submission and make it the new Gestapo headquarters. When you see the building you'll see that it makes perfect sense.
My experience with the Senate House Library wasn't quite like the previous reviewer's, but more of sober, down-to-earth kind. I have spent many a not-so-happy hour in here, poring over my books.
The selection of books, in my field of study at least, is somewhat better than the UCL library, and thankfully they have a system where some of their copies are reference only, which means you'll almost always have access to them (UCL: there might be one copy only of the book you desperately need, it's out for the next three months, and you just know that some undergraduate is using it to prop up their table or something).
Their reading rooms are not great, though. The ones on the main floor are okay, and very quiet, but once the daylight is gone it gets very dark in there, your only source of light will be your little table lamp - I haven't decided whether I like that or not. The rooms on the 6th floor on the other hand are pretty grim. They have squeezed in tiny tables amongst all the shelves, it's a bit chaotic and you'll feel like you're completely on your own (some people might like that, but I just found it depressing). Some of the tables are by the windows and the view is great, but to make up for that the light makes this constant buzzing sound. It could make you go crazy if you spend too much time in there.
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