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Students left confused as the library at UCL’s £487m campus has no books

UCL is instead asking students to order books to Marshgate from Main Campus


Students at the newly opened UCL East campus have been left confused after discovering their brand new library, Marshgate, contains no books.

UCL East’s flagship academic building appears to have no public plans to install any books, nor any bookshelves or public book storage areas.

Students are instead asked to order items from the libraries at the main Bloomsbury campus to be delivered to the Stratford campus. While books can be requested from other UCL Libraries, the university website has advised that books will be delivered within two to five working days.

After being contacted for comment on this article, UCL Library revised its website to reflect an “estimated” turnaround time of “within 1-2 days”.

UCL East has already been under fire in recent months with students criticising accommodation delays and its distance from the main campus. Students on the new campus subsequently may have to plan their assignments sooner than their Bloomsbury counterparts and do their readings in advance if they require books. 

Given that UCL East’s Marshgate building houses students from over 50 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, some students have questioned why books relevant to their degrees are not housed at the UCL East Library. 

Annabelle, a current UCL student considering applying to a MA Public History course held at UCL East, was left confused by the situation.

She said: “Finding out that I might have to wait five days to access course materials definitely put me off from applying at least slightly.

“At that point, I might as well just make the commute to UCL’s Main Library, and pay £5 for the tube there and back too.”

Annabelle also questioned why her degree is even based at the Stratford campus.

She said: “I don’t understand why the Public History Masters would be at UCL East anyway, considering the rest of the History Department is on the Main Campus.” 

With an eye-watering £487m price tag, it is perhaps no wonder that students expected more from the flashy new site.

However, UCL Libraries reassures students that its services remain high quality: “We have received the Customer Service Excellence Accreditation. So if you need anything, our staff will be here to help!” 

They also reassured students that the seven mile journey of their requested books from the Main to East campus will not affect their carbon footprint: “Because our vans are 100 per cent carbon neutral and fully electric.”

A UCL spokesperson said: “Course materials for programmes based at UCL East are provided digitally through our ReadingLists@UCL service, wherever possible. This is now the same across UCL, with most course materials accessed digitally.

“Students based at UCL East have full access to UCL’s library services, and if they request print items housed at other UCL sites, materials are delivered to the most convenient library for them within two working days.”

Feature image via @ucllibraries on Instagram. 

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