Feb 16, 2024
Access and Services Offered by Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill

Libraries and Collections at UNC-Chapel Hill

All UNC-Chapel Hill students have access to the university’s libraries, collections and services.

Davis Library is home to research collections for humanities and social sciences, business, foreign language materials, maps and specialized information like government documents and datasets, as well as eight floors of study space.

In addition, UNC is part of a local consortium with Duke and NC Central libraries where you can borrow from their collections using your Onyen card.


A library is a collection of books or other material that can be borrowed by the public. It may be a physical location or a virtual space. The collection may be sorted by subject, format, or type of resource. The collection is organized and maintained by a body such as a government, an institution or a private individual.

The collection is typically arranged using a library classification system so that materials can be located quickly and browsed easily. Libraries often have a reference desk that provides answers to questions from the public. In addition, libraries have technical services departments that work behind the scenes cataloging new resources and weeding out old ones.

While libraries have changed dramatically over time, they still serve a fundamental cultural function. They are the place where a toddler hears his first story and a scholar conducts her research. They are the place where people can find information on any topic without the constraints of political censorship.


Library services include research help, reference service, collection development and acquisitions. Library staff also catalogs books, audiovisual materials, pamphlets and other resources. Cataloging includes descriptive and subjective cataloging. Descriptive cataloging gives a shelf address to the resource, while subjective cataloging provides subject terms or descriptions of the content.

Libraries strive to provide equitable access to their collections, services and technologies. They also try to promote and support the academic and research mission of their patrons.

Various library locations are located throughout UNC’s campus. The most popular include Davis Library, which houses research collections for humanities and social sciences; the Wilson library, home to rare and unique materials; and the R.B. House Undergraduate library, which offers eight floors of study space. Staff members are available in each location to assist students with their research. UNC’s library system is consistently ranked among the top university libraries in North America. Its collections can also be accessed online.

Digital Collections

The materials in a library digital collection are digitized from an analog or born-digital archival collection and made available online. These digitized collections can include books, newspapers, manuscripts, photographs, video and audio.

Digital collections allow a library to reach more people, both within and outside of the organization. Libraries that have a digital collection offer their users the opportunity to view the treasured items and to learn more about what the organization is about.

Digital collections have a lot of potential to educate and expand minds in ways that traditional printed materials cannot. The ability to share a book, newspaper or historical document allows a new person to experience it and gain knowledge in a way that was impossible before.

Library Policies

Policies give guidelines for daily library operations and should be approved by the library’s governing body, such as a board of trustees or town select board. Policies should be accompanied by procedures that explain how the policy will be implemented.

The library’s collection development policies guide the selection of new materials for purchase. Faculty librarians also evaluate the collection annually to identify materials that should be withdrawn from circulation.

A number of court cases have ruled that libraries may regulate patron behavior that interferes with the “quiet enjoyment” of others in the library. This includes regulating noise levels and ensuring that students studying in study rooms are not disturbed.

The most important consideration in drafting library policies is that they be reasonable. A policy, no matter how legal it might be on the surface, can be successfully challenged if it is not applied fairly or consistently. Giggling adolescents, for example, should not be treated more harshly than quiet adult patrons.

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