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Things I didn’t know as a student about the Brynmor Jones Library

Starting university can be quite a daunting prospect. There is a lot to learn in a short space of time. When I started at The University of Hull in 2018 I had to find my lecture rooms, meet new friends and discover new learning styles.

It is for this reason that I missed out on some of the excellent features of the Brynmor Jones Library. Now don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time studying in the library and took books out often. But, I definitely didn’t utilise the full potential of the library when I had the chance.

Now I am an intern at the university library and I have finally had the opportunity to explore the space and all it has to offer.

So here are a few things I wish I knew as a student about the Brynmor Jones Library. I hope that this encourages you make the most of your time here and enhance your studies.

The Brynmor Jones Library on a sunny day

The Cube

My tour of the Brynmor Jones Library started all the way up on the 7th floor in a room called The Cube. No, I am not talking about the gameshow hosted by Phillip Schofield. Rather, The Cube is where the library houses its rare book collection in a temperature-controlled environment.

According to my guide, Helen, the rare book collection was started by the Vice-Chancellor at the time, Brynmor Jones, after who the library was named.

The collection boasts titles that are over five hundred years old. As well as many rare, first-edition and signed copies of texts. Some of my personal favourites housed in The Cube include a first edition, signed copy of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a signed Rudyard Kipling collection and first edition copy of Peter Pan (University of Hull, 2020b).

Staff member holding open a rare book from The Cube

The Cube also has ongoing project work that you can see. Here, work experience students and library volunteers get to create themed displays and highlight the variety of rare texts that are available in the library. One display focuses on tragic love and the other, war. This emphasises that it is possible for many students to find a rare book that may enhance their studies at the university. As well as giving students the opportunity to get involved with archive work.

I think one of the most important things to note about the Brynmor Jones Library rare book collection is how accessible it is to students. All you have to do is fill in a form online to arrange an in-person viewing of these marvelously preserved texts.

During my own time at the university, I missed on utilising this collection due to a sense of nervousness surrounding these fragile pieces of work. But, when I did finally see this collection my worries dissipated almost instantly as the staff were welcoming, approachable and passionate.

So, do not miss out on your chance to visit the rare books held at the Brynmor Jones Library and get to hold a piece of history in your hands and enhance your academic research

Philip Larkin’s Office

Next on my tour of the Brynmor Jones Library was the office of Philip Larkin.

In 1955, Larkin joined the University of Hull as a librarian (Orwin, 2021). There he played a vital role in the redevelopment and expansion of the library (Hull History Centre, 2022). To this day, his office is preserved in the library and well worth a visit.

Stepping into this room was like stepping back in time. Here you will find the original electrical fire place and Larkin’s own type writer. Its charm comes from Larkin’s more personal items such as his collection of rather stained, well used mugs and the selection of vinyl records.

A collection of mugs and beverages from a birds-eye view

My time in this room was brief, but certainly very interesting. More Larkin memorabilia can be found at the Hull History Centre which has strong connections with the library. You can also click here to read more about Larkin’s office and his time at the library.

Down in The Basement

One thing I did not know about the library when I was a student was that as well as having eight floors above ground, there is also an extensive space below the library.

Next time you grab a coffee in the university library, just think about what could be below your feet. There is a labyrinth of old journals, books and pamphlets. Most of these have be digitalised or replaced with newer version, and some have been considered too controversial to access. Additionally, there are rooms full of different art works from the gallery and boxes quirky of items.

The Brynmor Jones Library basement

What I enjoyed when visiting the basement was the sheer magnitude of it. I believe you could spend all day down there and not have the chance to discover everything it stores. My guide also told me some eerie stories from staff who have felt and heard strange happenings in the basement.

Most of the material found in the basement can be accessed by the Library Search. This gives students an even larger option for sources and research.

The Gallery

On the ground floor of the Brynmor Jones library is the art gallery. This space is free to access whether you are a student or member of the public.

The collection of art held in the library began with a yearly fund of just £300 (University of Hull, 2022a). Despite this, the gallery is an impressive feature to admire.

The gallery has its staple collection of pieces and an exhibition space that changes regularly. Currently, you can see Larkinworld 2 by D J Roberts, which is part of Larkin’s centenary celebrations by the library (The Philip Larkin Society, 2021). This exhibit is available to view until the 25th of September, but I already look forward to seeing what is there next.

People enjoying the art displayed in a gallery

That concludes my list of things I didn’t know about the Brynmor Jones library when I studied at the university. I suggest you make the most of these fantastic facilities when you can. Whether you need to access rare materials for your studies or just fancy a cultural day out.


For Reference

Hull History Centre (2022) Archives of the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library. Available online: Archives of the University of Hull Brynmor Jones Library – Hull History Centre Catalogue [Accessed 25/08/2022].

Orwin, J.L. (2021) Philip Larkin biography. Available online: PHILIP LARKIN BIOGRAPHY – The Philip Larkin Society [Accessed 25/08/2022].

The Philip Larkin Society (2022) ‘Larkinworld2′. Available online: ‘Larkinworld 2’ – The Philip Larkin Society [Accessed 25/08/2022].

University of Hull (2022) Art Gallery. Available online: Art Gallery | University of Hull [Accessed 25/08/2022].

University of Hull (2020) The university library part 1- our buildings, collections and people. Available online: The University Library Part 1 – Our buildings, collections and people | University of Hull [Accessed 25/08/2022].

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Library services

Stats Corner

Is Library Live Chat the powerhouse of all questions?

Library Live Chat is our online chat service that allows you to chat – live – with a member of library staff. The team are super speedy getting to more than 90% of calls within 30 seconds.

*A true representation of the Library team when the beep of a Library Live Chat comes in.

We also link our Facebook Messenger and Twitter messages to our chat software – because we know you like to message the library using these platforms too.

It’s very popular, as these statistics show!

In the first trimester (27 September 2021 – 31 January 2022) there were:

  • 2,283 chats.
  • The busiest month was October 2021 with 674 chats.
  • The busiest day of the week for chat was Monday.
  • The busiest time of the day was between 10am and 12pm.

And, most importantly, 97.5% of the chats in this period were rated as Good or Excellent.

In case you’re interested in more information on service-level stats, please browse the Library’s service and business standards (aka Service-Level Agreements).

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Library services

Is borrowing a Book easy? We think so…

We’ve been working to make borrowing books easier than ever.

Over the past few years we’ve been inserting RFID* tags into all our books. That’s many hours spent inserting tags and programming (we loved every moment of those stickers). Long story short, this means when you borrow a pile of books, you no longer have to find and scan every barcode in each book to check them out.

Our new self-issue machines can read multiple RFID tags at the same time as soon as you place the pile of books on the machine, making the whole process quicker and easier.

Pirate language is optional but makes for a hearty experience.

We’ve also made it possible to reserve on-shelf books. Just find a book you want via the Library Search and reserve it, whether it’s on-loan or on-the-shelf. If it’s on-loan it will be reserved for you when it’s returned. If it’s on-the-shelf, a member of library staff will fetch it for you and place it on the reserved-items shelf. You always get an email when it’s ready to collect. We’ve fetched 5,518 of these on-shelf books in the first trimester** alone!

* Radio Frequency Identification

** Trimester 1 was 27 September 2021 to 31 January 2022

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Library services

Launch of the Family Room in the Brynmor Jones Library

Katie Austin

The photograph shows the Library's new Family Room. The room has a desk and computer for work, while the floor has lots of child-friendly resources. There are decorations on the wall and a mat on the floor to make the space more welcoming for our little visitors.

As an inclusive and welcoming campus, we are delighted here at the Hull University Library to launch a study room for students with children. A third of our student population are mature learners, many of whom are also managing family life as well as academic studies.

The large group learning room on the ground floor has been converted into a child-friendly room which can be booked out for students needing to access the library facilities whilst also juggling childcare.

So if you have a deadline looming during school holidays, need to drop in to print something out or simply prefer studying in our wonderful library building, please know that your children are very welcome to join you.

The ground floor is pushchair friendly and we also have a baby change and nappy disposal bin located within the café toilets.

If you need books collecting from the library floors, you can use the Library Live Chat to make a request during staffed hours. A member of staff will gladly bring these over to you.

The Family Room aims to take away any added pressures students with children may face while completing their academic studies on campus. Feedback from previous students with children has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to welcoming our first bookings throughout October.

Ali Craig

As always, please direct any comments or suggestions to the Library Feedback page.

I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Katie Austin, our Equality Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator who has meticulously planned for this launch. It’s been a long time in the making.

Ali Craig
Operations Director & Head of Customer Experience