Quick Library Guide for Maths Students

This guide is intended to be a basic introduction to the Library's mathematics resources and services. You will find further general information - including opening hours and borrowing rights, and a link to the Library catalogue - on the Library web pages. More specific information and links to external sources of information is detailed on the Library's subject page for Mathematics.

Finding your way around

The Library's full name is the John Rylands University Library (JRUL). It consists of the Main Library, at the heart of the Oxford Road Campus, the Joule Library in the Sackville St Building , and a number of other smaller site libraries.

The Library's stock of Mathematics books and journals is split between the Main Library (Blue Area, Floor 2 - Blue 2) and the Joule Library.

All library books have a shelfmark which indicates their subject matter and gives each a definite place on the Library shelves. At both sites Mathematics books are shelved at 510-519.

Printed Mathematics journals are shelved within the single journal sequence at the Joule Library, and within the Mathematics and Computer Science sequence at the Main Library.

Encyclopaedias, dictionaries and other reference works can also be found in Reference Collections at both the Joule and Main Library.

Extra copies of many texts from reading lists can be found in the short loan collections of the two libraries.

Ask at the Main Library Circulation Desk for items kept in Store.

Library catalogue

Library catalogues are important, especially in a large library like JRUL. They tell you what books are in stock, if they are available to borrow , and where to find them

  • If you are looking for a specific book search the library catalogue by author and/or title. The location information will tell you where the book is kept (Main Library, Blue 2 for instance) while the shelfmark (e.g. 519.5/S21) gives the book an exact position on the Library shelves.
  • If you are looking for books on a particular subject use the catalogue keyword option - use keywords to define your subject.
  • If the book you want is on loan you can reserve it by using the Request button. You will need your library number on your ID card and PIN to use this service. You will be notified by e-mail when the book you requested is ready for collection.

More and more books are becoming available in electronic form. They are listed in the catalogue in exactly the same way as print books, but instead of a shelfmark the record will have a link to the fulltext of the book. Access is restricted to members of the university, and you might be prompted for a username and password, especially if you are off campus.


A journal is a publication which appears regularly on a continuing basis and which is often devoted to a particular subject. Thus a newspaper (daily or weekly, and written by journalists!) is a journal, and so is a magazine, but in a university context journals usually contain specialized scholarly or research articles (or papers). As the results of most scientific research are published in academic journals well before they become absorbed by textbooks , journals are thus not only vital to the process of research but are also a key component of library provision.

Reading Lists

The Library collects Reading lists from many Schools, and makes them available, module by module, with links to the Library catalogue. See the link from the Library catalogue.

Electronic databases

Essentially, databases enable you to locate journal articles on a particular topic. While the Library catalogue lists what books and journals the Library has in stock, it does not list the papers published in those academic journals. This is what these databases do.

Within the Library's Mathematics subject pages there is a section listing useful and relevant databases.

There is also a complete alphabetical list of databases taken on the Library webpages. Use of all these databases is restricted to members of the University of Manchester .

IT Facilities

The Main Library hosts four computer clusters - two on Blue 1, one on Blue 2, and one on Blue 3 - and the Joule Library another, with about 60 networked machines in each, along with printing facilities.


There are photocopiers in all parts of JRUL. They are operated by your student (library) card. To encode your card take it to the Reception Desk (Blue Ground) or Information Desk (Blue 1) in the Main Library or to the Circulation Desk in the Joule Library.

More Help

If you require any further help or information

  • Enquire at the Information Desks on Blue 1 or Blue 2 (Main Library) or in the Joule Library
  • Contact Barry White, the Academic Liaison Librarian for Mathematics: barry.white@manchester.ac.uk; Telephone, 0161-275-8721.

Further Library Information

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