Access User Guide

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Once you have applied

Once you have completed the online application form, and once your application is approved, your home library will send you an email confirming this and welcoming you to the access scheme. This email can be printed and used as an introduction to any of the libraries shown in your ‘Find a library’ search. Please note that you can use the same email to apply to different libraries; you do not have to submit an online application each time you want to join a new host library.

You should take a copy of that email 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. 

If you do not have a physical student ID card with a photo, other forms of ID (including virtual IDs) are permissible in lieu of, as long as they include a photo.

Acceptable photographic ID:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • National ID card
  • Student card showing expiry date
  • Staff card showing expiry date (i.e. NHS, University)
  • Police / Customs / Home Office Warrant Card
  • Forces ID card
  • Photocard from another UK Legal Deposit Library (BL, National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, Bodleian Libraries, TCD)

You should check the website of the library you want to visit for their opening hours and other local conditions. For example, at some libraries, new tickets may only be issued during office hours, or no on the day of first visit or you may need to supply a passport sized photograph.

When you get there, you may be issued with a library card from certain institutions which will allow you to borrow or use the host library until your SCONUL Access membership expires.  

To qualify for SCONUL Access you must be registered as a library user in good standing (i.e. having no debts at your home library and not having seriously infringed their rules).

If you are not sure whether the library at your own university is a member of the scheme, you can find out by filling in the online application form.

Other things to consider

The scheme is there to help library users, but it does not confer any rights, since admission to libraries is always at the discretion of the university or college concerned. Library users who abuse their SCONUL Access privileges could lose all access to the scheme and would be subject to sanctions in their home institution.

Some SCONUL Access users may apply to borrow books from the library. You should expect that the host library will restrict the number and the range of materials that you can borrow. For example, a host library may limit the number of books you can borrow and will not permit you to borrow from the short (restricted) loan or DVD collections. Be prepared to abide by the rules of the library you wish to use. You will be responsible for any fines or replacement costs incurred.

Some member libraries will allow full-time undergraduates to have reference access. Home libraries may issue a reference card which allows the user reference access to member libraries, but no borrowing rights.

SCONUL Access does not provide automatic rights to computer facilities. This includes access to electronic journals and databases to which the host library subscribes. Many members do however provide some electronic access.

All higher education libraries operate on the basis that your home library will provide training in the use of library services. If you do need help, you are strongly recommended to seek advice from your home library first (for example, if you need to consult material on a particular subject, or if you have a disability for which you need specific support). If you need special help at the library you are visiting, you must phone for advice and if necessary book an appointment. Local contacts and their phone numbers and email addresses are shown in the information provided when you register.