Access and evacuation: Western Bank Library

The Western Bank Library (WBL) is a large and complex listed building, whose original design takes little account of the needs of disabled people. The University has endeavoured to make it as accessible as possible, but if it presents you with any difficulties, please contact us so that we can discuss your specific needs with you.

We also encourage you to discuss your support needs with the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service based in the Hillsborough Centre, Alfred Denny Building ( or telephone (0114) 222-1303).

Where can I park?

The Arts Tower car park is barrier-controlled during the day on weekdays. If a car park warden is not available when you arrive, please press the intercom buzzer and security services staff will raise the barrier for you. Any local authority blue badge holder is allowed to park in the Arts Tower car park at any time. Taxis carrying a disabled visitor are also allowed into the Arts Tower car park. Contact Parking Services for further information.

What facilities are there for disabled customers?

There is an accessible toilet on Level G (ground floor) which is fitted with a RADAR lock.

How do I access the Library?

Level G entrance

The doors on level G are power-operated, activated by means of a push pad. For those happy to use the stairs, the Library is up two flights of stairs, with a turnstile entrance on the intermediate level M.

Regular users of WBL who are unable to use the stairs may be provided with swipe card access to allow them to use the lift from level G to the Library. We will offer safety and evacuation advice prior to activating swipe card access, and you will be required to sign an agreement of terms and conditions. Please email if you feel you are eligible. Once your swipe card access has been activated: 

  • Swipe your UCard to open the glass door to the right of the Porter’s Lodge.  The door will open automatically onto the lift lobby and the ramp will lead you to the lift.
  • In the lift, there are 2 panels of buttons. The door will open on the side nearest to the panel used.
  • Press either the ‘5’ (Main Hall/ Reading Room) or ‘4’ (level 4) button. Please note: exit from level 5 is on one side only.

Customers with mobility difficulties who do not have swipe card access and wish to enter at level G may be escorted to the lift by a member of staff. Please use the black wall-mounted telephone next to the glass door to request assistance. When you wish to leave, please ask a member of Library staff to assist you.

Level M entrances

During staffed hours, there is one entrance to Western Bank Library on level M, via the bridge from the Arts Tower. The doors from the Arts Tower are manually operated. You can find details of staffed and self-service hours at Western Bank Library opening hours.

There is UCard scan entry to the Library on this level. If necessary, staff on the Welcome Desk will open the gate for you.

A platform lift is available for anyone unable to access the 5 steps from level M up to level 4. Please remember to keep your finger on the button, until the lift has reached its destination and the lock on the door is released. Please note: there is no button to call the platform lift down to level M, but if it has carried someone to level 4, it returns automatically to level M after a few minutes.

Which areas of the Western Bank Library are accessible to me?

Wheelchair users

Unfortunately, only levels 4 and 5 are accessible to wheelchair users, because no safe escape route or refuge facility can be provided from other areas.

If you would like to access books on other levels, you can request books to collect at the Level 5 Information Desk, or you can contact us with any enquiries using the details at the bottom of this page. You can also find information about accessing specific collections at  Limited Access stock on StarPlus.

Other disabled customers

Levels 4 and 5 are accessible to all customers. If you are confident that you could walk up or down the stairs to escape to safety in an emergency, you may also use the lift or stairs to go to levels 2, 3 and 6.

Can wheelchair users access the Library if the usual lift and platform lift are out of order?

Yes, during staffed hours. You can access levels 4 and 5. Enter via level M and ask a member of staff for access to the goods lift. You will also need to ask for access to this lift when you wish to leave.

Emergency evacuation – where do I go?

Refuge Communication UnitIf there is a fire, you must not use the lift. Please make your way to the nearest safe emergency exit or refuge point.

If you are using a refuge point, please ensure that a member of staff is informed, either by yourself or another Library customer, so that assistance can be provided as soon as possible.

Refuge Communication Unit

From level 6

Make your way down the nearest flight of stairs and follow the advice for level 5, below.

From level 5

●  Wheelchair users
If possible, leave via the Reading Room emergency exit into Weston Park. Alternatively, a wheelchair refuge point is located on the back staircase landing. Make your way through the door to the right of the tapestry in the Main Hall, then through the fire doors onto the back staircase landing. Please wait there for assistance. If you have a mobile phone, you can contact the University Control Centre on (0114) 2224444.

●  Other disabled customers
If possible, leave via the Reading Room emergency exit into Weston Park. Alternatively, if you are able to do so, go down one flight of stairs and leave the library on level M via the Terrace.

From level 4

Wheelchair users
Leave via the nearest safe emergency exit into Weston Park.

● Other disabled customers
Depending on your location when the alarm sounds, leave via either the emergency exits into Weston Park, or the level M doors leading onto the Terrace.

From level 3

Make your way to the nearest safe emergency exit. There are two in the corners furthest away from the lift (these will involve climbing one flight of stairs and then an exit into Weston Park) and another via the National Fairground Archive, which also involves climbing steps and leads you to Level M.

From level 2

Make your way to the nearest and safest of the three emergency exits, all of which involve stairs, in some cases two flights.

Where is the assembly point?

The concourse near the Students' Union building and University House.

The Deaf Messaging Service

DMS allows you to connect to the University fire alarm system simply by sending a text message from your mobile phone. Once connected you will receive a notification by text message when the fire alarm for that building is activated. To connect to the service for Western Bank Library, simply send  a text message with the code sheff8 to 07797 870 999. For more information and the codes for other locations please see the DMS page.

Meet the Inclusive Learning Team.