STEM Students: make the most of your library – in conversation with your Academic Support Librarian

Blogger and Maths and Statistics student Emily talks to Warwick Library’s STEM Academic Support Librarian Chris Vernon to discuss how to make the best use of the library’s resources and databases to help with assignments, dissertations, essays and more.

As a Maths and Statistics student, I’ve never felt that I was utilising the library to its potential. We may not have as many essays as humanities students, but the library has some fantastic resources for us to access. I talked to Warwick’s STEM Academic Support Librarian Chris Vernon about how you can make full use of Warwick’s resources.

What are your responsibilities as an Academic Support Librarian?

As an Academic Support Librarian, I liaise with the department, overseeing book purchasing and any material the library may need. The other big element of what I do is to work with staff and students in the department to try and help them make the best use of the resources that the library offers. That might go from an undergraduate wanting to know how to use the library to find books, to people doing advanced research who need a specific resource to help them with their research. If there’s somebody from the math department who needs something that the library can offer, my job is to try and make getting hold of that as quick as possible.

Image Credit: University of Warwick.

What are the key library resources for STEM and maths and statistics students?

There are a few key things that I’d recommend as good starting points. The first would be the library catalogue. You can put in whatever information you have: if it’s a particular theory that you’ve decided to look into or a more general subject area. It’ll bring up lots of material as the catalogue covers everything that we physically have in the library, as well as our eBook collections. That’s always a good place to start, particularly if you want to kind of get a background on a particular subject.

Beyond the main catalogue, there are databases that cover mathematics journals for those who want the more specialised resources. We’ve got a couple of big multidisciplinary databases covering most science subjects, social sciences, as well as some humanities journals as well. So again, they are a good place to start because you can find a lot of a lot of different materials on pretty much any subject.

The major ones are Web of Science and Science Direct. They have tens of thousands of different journal titles across all sorts of different subjects. Whether you’re looking for something that is theoretical or applied, there’s a good chance that there’s going to be something useful in those databases.

There’s a database called Math Sci Net, which is a bit more specialized and that mostly focuses on mathematics and statistics. I’d say for any maths students who are wanting to start their own research and go into more depth with their searching those are really good places to get started.

Last year we upgraded our interlibrary loan system for situations where you come across a book or article that we don’t have access to. You can request the resource through a service called Get it For Me. It is a useful way to get hold of a lot of material that might not be in the catalogue (although getting requested resources isn’t guaranteed). Undergraduate students can put in requests through the system without needing a member of staff to authorise a request.

When can students get in contact with you?

My contact details are on the support page, just drop me an email and I will see what I can do. Don’t ever think it’s a stupid question to ask because hundreds of people will have asked before. A big part of the role of myself and the people in my team is to try and make sure that people know how to use the library. If there’s one thing, I want to get across to people reading your article, is that the library is here to help – there’s a lot here for STEM students.

Is there a little-known tip about the library in general you wish more students knew?

The Warwick Proxy Browser Plugin. This is a little attachment that you can put onto your web browser. If you find a paper online you like, click on the plugin, it will automatically check our systems to see whether we have access to that article. Wherever you go, with a push of a button you can see if we’ve got access to the paper.


The Library recently went under a £4m refurbishment, find out about the changes in our blog; or take a look at how the Library’s Online Courses can support your studies.

Have you made use of your Academic Support Librarian yet? Let us know your experiences in the comments below, by tweeting us @warwicklibrary or by emailing us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk

Header Image: Nathan Barrow.

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