Access FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Access Scheme


Q. Am I eligible to participate in the scheme?

A. The scheme is available for many users from SCONUL institutions. The easiest way to find out whether or not you are eligible is to complete the online application form, indicating what sort of user you are and where you are enrolled. If eligible, you will see a list of institutions you are eligible to visit. The application form is here:

Q. How do I apply?

A. Students and staff wishing to use the scheme to visit libraries should apply using the online application form:

Q. Do I need to complete an online application for each institution I would like to visit?

A. No, although you do need to indicate a library you are interested in visiting as part of your application, your approval email allows you to visit any of those libraries on the list. You do not need to reapply. 

Q. I have applied and received my approval email. Now what? 

A: Before visiting a library, you should check their website for opening hours and other local conditions. For example, at some libraries, specific health and safety procedures may be in place, new tickets may only be issued during office hours, or not on the day of first visit or you may need to supply a passport sized photograph. You should take a copy of your approval e-mail with you when you go to the library you want to visit, along with your ID card or library card from your home institution. This will allow other libraries to identify you as a bona fide member of the scheme. When you get there, you will be issued with a library card and will be able to borrow or use this host library until your SCONUL Access membership expires. 

Q. I am trying to apply but cannot find my institution on the list?

A. If you are attempting to complete the online application form by cannot find your institution on the drop-down menu, it is likely that your institution does not participate in the scheme or is not a member of SCONUL. Only eligible staff and students from participating institutions are able to use the SCONUL Access scheme. 

Q. I have completed steps 1 and 2 of the application form, but there are no institutions I am eligible to visit.

A. SCONUL Access is a reciprocal scheme. You are only eligible to visit libraries if your home library accepts visitors of the same user type. 

Q. Our college/university employs undergraduate and taught postgraduate students on a casual basis (e.g. to shelve books). We have contracts and are designated as members of staff when working. Can we join SCONUL Access as staff users?

A. Staff access is not offered to taught post-graduate students or undergraduates even if they are employed by their university.

Q. I am not a member of staff but I am a visiting scholar at a university and hold a 'staff' library card. Am I entitled to a SCONUL Access?

A. The answer to the question depends on how your institution defines you locally as a user. If your library views you as a full member of staff, offering local borrowing rights, inter-library loans and online access to resources then you are eligible for the Scheme and should apply online

Q. I'm trying to fill in the application form, but I can't select the user type?

A. If you are seeing an error message that says 'Library user type field is required', it is likely that a search engine has directed you to a point mid-way through the application process. Go to and try again.

Q. Will I have access to e-resources?

A. SCONUL Access users qualify as “walk-in users” under licensing agreements and SCONUL encourages institutions to allow for access to e-resources where possible. However, there may be policies or practicalities at an institution which prevent this service. If you wish to use electronic resources, you should check the library's website or contact them in advance of your visit to ensure you are not disappointed when you visit.

Q. The library I want to use isn't a member, what can I do?

A. Though you cannot use the library through the SCONUL Access scheme, external membership may be possible. Contact the individual library for advice. 

Q. I have applied. Should I have received confirmation of my application?

A. Yes, an automatic email is generated when your application is submitted. Check your spam or junk folder. If it is not there, contact your home institution (contact details available here: who will be able to verify that the application has been received and amend your email address if it was not enterd correctly.

Q. When will I receive an approval email?

A. SCONUL Access applications are processed by your university (home institution) library.  An extremely high volume of applications is being processed further to the scheme reopening and you may need to wait up to 4 weeks. Please be patient and do not pressure library staff at your home institution. Please do not call or visit your chosen library or SCONUL about your application - it will not speed up the process!

Q. My college is not a member of SCONUL Access but my course is validated by a member institution. Can I join SCONUL Access?

A. You are only eligible to apply if you are considered a student of the University validating your course with full library privileges at that institution. Most students at HE and FE colleges are not eligible.

 Q. I've been approved to use the SCONUL Access scheme, but I'm not able to login to the website. What should I do?

A. You do not need to login to the SCONUL website to use SCONUL Access. To take part in the scheme, you will need to take a copy of your approval email along with your ID card or library card from your home institution to the libray you would like to visit. 

 Q. I have a disability and my institution provides me with additional support. Will I receive additional support from the libraries I visit?  

A. Having established the need for reasonable adjustments within your own University’s assisted support services, please note the adjustments and support provided may not be applicable at other SCONUL institutions.  If you require additional support when visiting a SCONUL institution, please contact them in advance, they can advise what adjustments can and can’t be offered within their service provision.