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Finding and Accessing Collections

LibrarySearch provides the easiest way to find and access library print and online resources. LibrarySearch allows you to search across most library collections and resources, whether you are on or off campus.

For more ways to find Library resources, see below. For more information about how to search effectively, take a look at Searching Techniques.

Reading lists enable you to find and access books, journals and other resources you are expected to use to ensure you complete your course successfully. They can be found within your course and unit areas on myUCA.

Database A-Z

The library subscribes to over 50 databases - collections of articles, images, ebooks and other material - to help you in your studies.

To see a full list of the databases to see the Database A-Z.

Journals provide current research in your area of study. Journals can be electronic, print or both.

Journals A - Z gives you a list of all current library journal subscriptions.

Finding books on the shelves is easy once you know how the books are organised. Use LibrarySearch to identify the shelf number of the book you want to find. The shelf number shows you exactly where to look in the library to find the print item.

The example below is for a book available at all 3 campuses. Check the location and whether the book is ‘On-Shelf’ then make a note of the shelf number.  In this example the shelf number is 791.4301 BOR.  

Note - shelf numbers can sometimes vary between campus so make sure that you choose the correct one.

Finding Books
Now you have the shelf number you need to find the book on the shelves. The Library uses the Dewey Decimal System to organise the collection.

Book Labels

​Dewey organises books according to subject, in numeric order from 000-999 - 

000 – Computer science, Information
100 – Philosophy & Psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social Sciences
400 – Language
500 – Pure Science
600 – Technology
700 – Arts & Recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History & Geography

The rules are -

  • Each subject is given a number.
  • The complete number is called a shelf number.
  • All books on the same subject will be given the same number and will therefore be grouped together.  
  • Books on similar or related subjects will be located nearby.
  • Each book has its shelf number label on the spine.

Following the rules allows you to identify the subject of the book as well as the exact location of the book on the library shelves, the letters at the end are usually the first three letters of the author’s surname.

For example - 391.00904 ARN is the call number of a book about fashion whose author's surname begins with ARN.

It can be confusing when the classification numbers after the decimal points are very long, for example 667.30286 CHR.  It can help to think of the numbers as money, so £302.78 is more than £302.07, so on the shelves, 302.78 appears after 302.07. Alternatively, it can help if you mentally add extra zeros to numbers to help you place them in order -


adding the two 00’s you can see that .2308 comes after .23.

Shelf Labels

As books are organised by subject, you can easily use shelf numbers to browse the shelves for similar and related books. Use the library floor plans and shelf signage to help you find your way about and feel free to explore.

If you can't find what you are looking for ask for help.

The Library purchases electronic books wherever possible because they - 

  • can be accessed at anytime, on and off campus, wherever you have an Internet connection
  • allow multiple users at one time, so no waiting for a book to be returned
  • provide additional features such as making annotations, highlighting, and searching within the text
  • they are more accessible, font sizes change be increased and they can be read by screen readers

Use LibrarySearch to find electronic books; if the book is available electronically, you will see a link to access it, as in the example below -


You will be prompted for your University username and password.  The read online option will allow you to view the book online.  Because of copyright restrictions you will only be able to print a proportion of any book.

As well as viewing electronic books online, you can also download a copy to your laptop, tablet or mobile phone.  You can either download selected pages or a chapter to keep or download the entire book for a limited time.  To download the entire book, you’ll need to install Adobe Digital Editions for your computer of if you are using a tablet or phone, you'll need to go to the App Store and install Bluefire Reader.

Use of all eresources is governed strictly by licence agreements. eResources may be used for study and research but not for commercial purposes. eResource sources must be properly cited with copyright/ownership notices. You may not share your password or pass content from eresources to anyone else. Viewing or downloading large amounts of data is forbidden. Please contact for queries relating to the licenses for specific databases or for any problems regarding access.


Google Scholar will extend your search beyond UCA collections and provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature.  It is an Internet search engine that specifically searches for academic resources across many disciplines and sources.  If the resource is available online then Google Scholar will provide you with a link.

You will need to login using your University username and password when accessing many of the Library's electronic resources off campus.

You may be presented with various login options - 

  • it may say login via your University, Library, Athens or Shibboleth login
  • choose any of these options and if asked select UK Access Management Federation and continue with your login.

OpenAthens LoginWhen you are taken to the OpenAthens login you need to type University for the Creative Arts into the Find your organisation search box.

Select University for the Creative Arts login.

OpenAthens LoginLogin with your University username and password, the same details you use to access myUCA.

If you have any difficulties accessing electronic resources please get in touch -

The library collections consist of a wide range of specialist arts books, journals, databases, dissertations, research and archives to inspire your creative practice and promote successful study. Information about the collections and how to access them is below -

The University Archives & Special Collections are rare and unique, they include original letters and artwork, with particular strengths in arts activism, animation and photography.

For more information see - Archives & Special Collections and to search the University's archive collections see - ArchiveSearch

These are art works using text and image which take the form of books or other objects. These collections include ‘zines and student work.

Artists Books can be found on LibrarySearch - Artists Books.

The library at Farnham holds a collection of computer games (mainly in the PS4 format) that are available to borrow. These are housed in the rolling stacks on the top floor of the library. To see what is available take a look at the Library Catalogue.

The library offers over 200,000 books (as both print and e-books).  All of these and more can be found on Library Search.

Loans for print books are either three week or seven days.  They may either be borrowed from your own, or, if the book is a three week loan, another campus via Click & Collect.  You can also request a digital scan of one chapter or article for private study and research via Scan & Deliver, see Requesting Resources.

Database A-Z

The library subscribes to over 50 databases - collections of articles, images, ebooks and other material - to help you in your studies.

To see a full list of the databases to see the Database A-Z.

The library holds a selection of dissertations written by previous students over the last three years.

See Browse Online Dissertations
See Search Online Dissertations
See Print Dissertations

The Library subscribes to a number of image databases including - VADSBritannica ImageQuest and Bridgeman Education.  For guidance on using images in your work please see Copyright.

Journals provide current research in your area of study. Journals can be electronic, print or both.

Journals A - Z gives you a list of all current library journal subscriptions.

Magazines are available in either electronic or print format depending on availability, and in most cases access to an archive of back issues is also available. You can check if we have a particular magazine by using Journals A-Z and searching for the magazine title.

You can also browse through many of our electronic magazines on your tablet or phone using the Flipster app for Apple or Android devices – just search for UCA in the app and log in with your UCA account username and password.

PressReader provides you with access to over 7,000 magazines and newspapers from across the world.

The Materials Library was introduced as a teaching resource in 2016 and contains a collection of material samples reflecting innovative material design and processes. It was developed as a resource to enhance students' engagement with the material form.

The collection is based in Epsom - to access please contact the Archivist.

More information about the materials library can be found online - Archives & Special Collections.  Images of some of the collection can be viewed online at ResourceBank (UCA login required).

The library subscribes to a number of streaming services, including BoB (which includes over 75 free-to-air channels, and more than 2.2 million recorded tv and radio broadcasts), as well as Digital Theatre Plus, Drama OnlineKanopy and Atlasshorts

The library also holds a collection of over 10,000 DVDs and blu rays which are available to borrow.  For details see - LibrarySearch - DVDs.

The library provides searchable online access to the text of hundreds of UK/international newspapers and other worldwide news sources. You can access newspaper articles by searching for a topic in either the Nexis or Gale OneFile News. PressReader provides you with access to over 7,000 magazines and newspapers from across the world.

PhD theses presented by UCA students can be viewed online at UCA Research Online - PhD Theses.

The library provides open online access to its staff research, including both text-based and creative arts research, as well as PhD theses. Research can be found on UCA Research Online.

Zines are typically self-published magazines, often reproduced using photocopiers, and using either original or appropriated artwork. The library holds a large collection of zines, especially at Canterbury, and the collection also includes a variety of student work.

You can view a selection of front covers online at - Zines - front covers and find details of all Zines at - LibrarySearch - Zines.