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2nd May 2022

UoM’s secret libraries where seats are almost guaranteed

Exam season is coming, with seats in Ali G becoming increasingly scarce- but, with our guide to secret study spots around campus, may the odds ever be in your favour this season
UoM’s secret libraries where seats are almost guaranteed
Photo: Rabie Madaci @Unsplash

After yet another ‘no space’ incident in Ali G, I went on a mission to visit all the libraries available to UoM students. Below are the hidden gems I found across our university campus, ensuring you’ll never have to be seatless again!

Joule Library

A photo depicting a library corridor with bookshelves on both sides of the path
Photo: Jordan Norris @ The Mancunion

Located in the heart of Manchester’s North campus via the Sackville Street Building, Joule Library is a little out of the way. The campus’ STEM students, who typically frequent Joule, revealed that it’s mostly empty and has an abundance of seats

Top tip: sit next to the wall where plug sockets can be found at your feet. There are also printers in the library for all your printing, scanning and copying needs.

For at-home students, Joule is super close to Piccadilly station, making it a comfortable studying spot for those who commute. In terms of food, there’s a Starbucks nearby, and other shops at the station. Leon does amazing Mexican food, and with its 10% student discount, it won’t eat too much into your bank!

You will like it if: You can tolerate STEM students… And if you like a quiet and studious space. 

Drawbacks: It’s not the easiest place to find, being quite a bit out of the way. And, there are no lifts for Floor E, making it slightly inaccessible. 

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 17:00

Kantorowich library

A photo depicting a library with some bookshelves and tables..
Photo: Ausrine Naujalyte @ The Mancunion

Quiet and cosy, the Kantorowich library is located in the Humanities building on Bridgeford Street. It mainly holds collections about education, environment and development. It has a nice resting area for group study, but it can only fit a couple of groups at a time.

The library has a couple of printers and some vending machines in the foyer. If you fancy a brew, there’s Arthur’s Brew – located in the Arthur Lewis Building – open until 3:30 pm.

You will like it if: You prefer mid-size libraries where most students sit next to each other, and you can always find a place to study. If having access to a water cooler is a priority for you, then the Kantorowich library is also ideal. 

Drawbacks: There is a limited number of sockets, most of them being next to the windows (aka on one side of the giant tables).

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 17:00

Art and Archaeology Site Library

Photo: Jordan Norris @ The Mancunion

If you think Kantorowich library is hidden, you must not know about this site found in the Mansfield Cooper building, next to the Main Library. Although this library is quite small, I have never seen more than five people there at a time. So, you’ll definitely be able to find a computer or power socket.

There is a printer and five PCs in the library. 

The closest cafes are inside the Main Library and Ali G, plus there is a Costa nearby.

You will like it if: You want to browse art books. Or if you like not following the mainstream (*cough* Main Library or Ali G). It is quiet and empty, the perfect place to get that essay done!

Drawbacks: You have to take a lift or go up the stairs to find it. The door to the library is sometimes a hassle to open too, and confused me a lot at first (though I needed a card to get in).

Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 17:00

Samuel Alexander

A photo of the Lime cafe in which yu can see tables, green and blue chairs, and a computer cluster in the background
Photo: Ausrine Naujalyte @ The Mancunion

This study space is located on the Lower Ground floor inside the Samuel Alexander Building, next to the now-closed Lime Cafe. The open-plan space is adorned with computer clusters, printers, vending machines, and many tonnes of tables. Bathrooms (which are always empty, compared to the ten-minute wait at the main library toilets) are also found near the entrance to the café.

The closest food vendors include Costa Coffee, Alan Gilbert café and a variety of shops on Oxford Road.

You will like it if: You like knowing that you’ll always find a free space to study. Plus, if you like modern, Ikea-ish places to study. It’s cool, crisp, and clean – the perfect study place! 

Drawbacks: Like most parts of Sam Alex, it’s quite difficult to find. But, if you enter the building at its South entrance (opposite the Ellen Wilkinson building), and take the elevator/steps near the entrance, you shouldn’t have much difficulty locating the Lime Café.

If you do manage to find your way to the back of the building from the main entrance, the receptionist will point you in the right direction.

Opening times: Monday to Thursday, 9:30 – 19:00 (closes 17:00 Fridays)

Whitworth Art Gallery

A room with light blue walls, a big window, several wooden tables and chairs, a blue couch in the forefront.
Photo: Ausrine Naujalyte @ The Mancunion

The Whitworth Art Gallery, next door to Denmark Road, is only a 5 minute walk from the main campus. It’s filled with hardwood furniture, making it a traditional 20th century study space. Choose from sofas and tables with easy access to plug sockets.

Along with the historic surroundings, the space additionally features the Office of Arte Útil, described by the university as a new permanent public space that activates the gallery’s mission to use art for positive social change. Essentially, a workroom and common room are free of use and open to the public! 

In addition, just outside there’s a charming garden where you can bask in the sun and read or study on one of the benches. The perfect spot for a study break as we enter into the summer months. Another point of interest is the beautiful Whitworth Café, which could be a delicious escape from all the studying.

You will like it if: Being able to study in fresh spring air is exciting to you. Also if you love being surrounded by art.

Drawbacks: As it’s not a library, it doesn’t have some of the services such as printers or computer clusters. Places are quite limited (however, it’s usually empty). 

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 – 17:00.


Need a place to study on the weekends? Try our guide to Manchester’s study cafes.


Disclaimer:  All of these comments may not reflect reality during exam season. The Mancunion doesn’t take responsibility for not finding a space to sit during tough times.

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