You didn’t know you needed them: Academic Support Librarians

Deep in the Warwick Library jungle are a secret group of creatures. They roam silently between the bookshelves, and few students even know their existence. We are of course referring to Warwick’s Academic Support Librarians, the geniuses behind all our essay successes. In this week’s blog, Edward investigates.

By Edward Stanbury.

Reader, you know that feeling of scrolling for hours through academic papers? Maybe you too have copied, pasted, and cut hours of research from your essay? Or just gave up after putting it off for weeks? No one wants this for you. Least of all your academic support librarians (ASLs); here’s how they can help.

What Are Academic Support Librarians?

Starting with the basics, academic support librarians are subject specialists that can provide a ton of useful guidance with your essays, group projects… anything that demands research! There are currently 8 of them, and one will be a specialist in your subject. Therefore, their entire job is to help students like you succeed in your research – read on to find out why you shouldn’t let this go to waste.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my role is supporting students with project work; watching students develop their research interests and more often interpersonal skills is very rewarding.”

Kat Halliday, ASL for Warwick Business School
A webpage with a title of 'Academic Support Librarians', with two images.
The Academic Support Librarian webpage.

How Can They Help?

When I last used my academic support librarian, I was struggling with research for a group project on digital technology and higher education. I emailed her, explaining that all my sources were only sub-relevant and all from Google Scholar! Within hours, my ASL sent a paper specific to our thesis, recommended databases and gave me guidance on using key words to search for research papers. Finding the platform Chartered Association of Business Schools was particularly helpful in finding a key source for our project. And, although this was immensely helpful in helping our group achieve a first, it is not all ASLs do. For example, they have one-to-one appointments, plagiarism guidance, and can give you access to books that the library does not currently provide.

“The best part of being an ASL is meeting new people, finding out about their studies and research, and helping them to find information resources. I meet a great variety of people from new undergraduates to emeritus professors to visiting overseas students and academics.”

Jackie Hanes, ASL for Economics and Law

The last point is a real lifehack; before you buy an expensive text for your course, ask you ASL if they can procure the book for you through the library… and spare that precious student budget! Plus, they run a “Student as Researcher” initiative, where they can help to integrate information and research skills within your course – an excellent way to accelerate those independent study skills.

A man with brown hair and a beard sitting at a desk with an open book and a notepad and pen. The man is reading.
The ASLs can support with any student research and essay assignments. Image: University of Warwick.

What To Do Next?

Now you know how important your ASLs are, the next steps are to reach out to them. Check out the Warwick Library website to find your ASL and their contact information. Even if you feel like you are comfortable with your research skills for now, make sure you know who you can turn to if you ever need help. From my own experience, they are an excellent way to make your researching more efficient and effective and, without doubt, I will be using my ASL more in my upcoming essays – always available, why would you not use them?

Image: University of Warwick.

“I’m one of the longest-serving members of Library staff (shall we just say that when I first came here the Internet wasn’t a thing!). Before becoming an ASL I worked in Customer Services, Cataloguing (now Metadata Services) and Collections. I’m one of the functional experts helping to run the online circulation, public catalogue, and reading list systems. A favourite part of the job is being able to bring in all that experience to help smooth the way for new students.”

Richard Parkins, ASL for Film and Television, Liberal Arts and Theatre, and Modern Languages

If you’re looking to read more about library services, have a read of our blog on ‘five lessons I learned from the library’ or our blog on using ASLs as a STEM student.

Have you used your ASL? What did they help with? Let us know by tweeting us @warwicklibrary, by messaging us on Instagram @warwicklibrary or email us at

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