Frequently Asked Questions

Find what you need in our searchable FAQ.

How long can I borrow items for?

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The standard loan period is called Long Loan. These items are issued to two fixed dates in the year. One around the end of summer term (June) and the other one at the end of the summer vacation (Sept).

Stock in higher demand can be one week loan or short loan item from the Course Collection.

Long loan items can be recalled by another user. If one of your items is recalled, you will be notified by email that you have one week to return it.

What if I return an item late?

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A suspension system operates for items in demand (when there are other people waiting to borrow it) and Course collection items. The suspension lasts seven days from the date the item is returned.

If an item becomes very overdue an invoice will be issued for the value of the item.

How do I request a book that is on loan to someone else?

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If the item you require is already on loan, you can place a hold on it by logging in to WebCat (with your University Username and Password), finding the item in the catalogue and selecting the Place Hold option.

A recall notice will be sent to the person who has the item, to return the item within seven days from the date it was recalled. Once the item is returned, we will notify you by e-mail, and the item will be kept for you to collect within three days. If you have not collected the item within 3 days, your hold will be canceled.

What is the Course Collection?

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The Course Collection is a stock in high demand typically reading list material (from books and dvds to online extracts in pdf format), added to the collections at the suggestion of staff or students.

The material held is aimed at students studying taught courses, but any student or staff at this University may use the collections.

If you do not return Course Collection items on time your Library record will be blocked for one week.  This means you will be stopped from borrowing any material from any of the University Library sites.

Items borrowed during the day are due for return by 11:00 the following day.
At Hartley, this applies every day except Saturday when items are due for return by 11:00 on Monday, at all other sites the exception starts on Friday when items are due for return by 11:00 on Monday. 

Can I renew items I have on loan?

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You can renew one week loan items by logging in to WebCat and going to My Account- Renew My Loans. When renewing items make sure that the due date has changed to a new due date. If the due date remains the same, it indicates that the item is now recalled for another user and needs to be returned as soon as possible.

There is no limit to the number of times an item can be renewed unless recalled by another reader.

You cannot renew Course Collection items and items with "holds" that are required by other readers. Inter-library loans items can be renewed only by contacting the inter-library loans office (please check the ILL Libguide for more details or email  

Can I access journals and databases from home?

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You can access electronic journals and databases if the library is subscribed to them or if the provider supplies them free online. Access from home or your own laptop or device requires connection to the Southampton Virtual Environment (SVE)  Please follow ISolutions guidance on how to install these.

There are a few resources that have their own username and password - you can find these on the library webpages by following the links to resources.

How many books can I borrow?

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This table lists our current borrowing allowances:

User category Course collection items Total no. of items
Undergraduates 3 15
Taught postgraduates 3 20
Research postgraduates 3 No limit
Staff 3 No limit
External borrowers 0 10

Don't forget that you will only be able to borrow items if your record is clear from overdue books and suspensions.
We have further information on our loans & borrowing web pages. 

I have found an eJournal article on the web but cannot access the full-text?

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Search for the title of the journal on WebCat or Delphis to see if we are subscribed to it for the year you need.  If searching on Delphis make sure you have restricted the search to “Available at Southampton” option. If we do not have access to it, you can request the article via the Inter-Library-Loans service.

What is WebCat?

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WebCat is the Library’s catalogue.  It lists the books, journals, conference proceedings, CDs, DVDs and other items in the University libraries. It also lists e-books, e-journals and other online resources. WebCat also gives you the information about the location, availability and general information about each item.  There are WebCat computers at all Library sites. WebCat is also available on the Internet.

WebCat allows you to manage your library account, place holds on items and request supply of materials from our stock and from other libraries. It also gives you access to the catalogues of other libraries to look for materials which our library may not have. The WebCat page also offers links to Delphis, e-journals, opening hours of the library and the Library website.

Where do I return books and other items?

When the Library is open then you can return items using our self-issue/return machines or by returning it to the staffed desk.

If the Library is closed, items can be returned in the returns box or letterbox outside the Library. The books will be collected by Library staff as soon as the Library opens, and then returned for you. All sites except for Winchester School of Art have an out of hours returns box.

Long loan and One week loan items can be returned to any of our sites. 

Short loan (Course Collection) items must be returned to the site where you borrowed them.

What if the item I want is not on the catalogue?

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If the Library does not have the item you need, we are often able to contact other libraries and obtain items from them on your behalf.  This is known as an  Inter-Library Loan  (ILL) request.

What books are at which site?

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There are five University Library sites:

  • Hartley Library
  • Health Services Library
  • Library and Learning Commons
  • National Oceanographic Library
  • Winchester School of Art Library

The Hartley Library is on the main Highfield campus and contains the main collections for biological sciences, business, education, engineering, geography, humanities, law, mathematics, medicine, physical sciences, nursing and social sciences.

The Health Services Library is based at the Southampton General Hospital. It supports teaching and research in the Schools of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The Library and Learning Commons at Avenue campus, holds the Humanities Course Collection (excluding Music), the primary collection of Language Learning Resources and a significant Film Collection.

The National Oceanographic Library is located at the Southampton Oceanography Centre. It contains the main collections for oceanography and geology.

The Winchester School of Art Library in Winchester is a specialist art and design library, covering art and design history, fine art, fashion and textiles, cultural studies, film and photography.

WebCat will tell you which site the item is located at and under which call number (shelf location).

Why is my account suspended?

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If you fail to return a recalled item or a short loan item (items ‘in-demand’ which other people need to use too), or have recently returned one late, your record is suspended for seven days from the date the item was returned. This is the penalty for the late return of items in demand and is there to encourage everyone to return or renew items before they become overdue.

I'm on a Campus outside the UK and require a book/journal article that isn't online?

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Most of the items recommended to you should be available online, or a print copy available in your campus library.

If the book or journal article recommended by an academic is only available in print in the UK collections- Please request it using the Document Supply Service available through WebCat . ( ). We will post or email this item to you. If the item is not available in our collections at all you can use the Inter-Library Loans service. .

Do I have to return Course Collection items in person?

All Course Collection items must be returned to the site Library from where they were borrowed.  You can return items in person or using the self-return machines.

If you need to return Course Collection items when the Library is closed there is a returns facility outside the entrance to each site Library.  Please do NOT use the outside returns facility when the Library is open.

Remember, late return of a Course Collection item will result in the blocking of your borrowing privileges for one week from the date the item is returned. 

How do I request an inter-library loan (ILL)?

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 Inter-Library Loan / Document supply requests are submitted using WebCat . You need to login first using your university username and password. Then select:

  • Requests and Document Supply
  • Request something not available in our collections
  • Choose and fill in one of the two options listed

How can I access a book or thesis from the stack?

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Some items are held in closed areas called a stack.  To request a thesis or book, log in to WebCat and select Requests and Document Supply ( ); select the Request something from our collections option and enter the Author, Title, Call Number or Year of Thesis Submission (e.g. for a thesis: stack S.U. Theses 2008).  Click on the Place Request button to submit your request.

At Hartley Library:

  • Stack items are collected from the stack in the morning Monday - Friday
  • Items ordered will usually be available from the Hartley Library Level 2 Desk from around 10:00
  • All theses retrieved from the stack are reference only but will be held at the Hartley Library Level 2 Desk for consultation for 3 weeks

At National Oceanography Library:

  • The stack items are kept in the library store. They can be requested in person at the Help desk and fetched immediately for reference use in the library, Monday-Friday, 9am - 5.25pm.
  • If requesting a thesis from another site please follow the Requests and Document Supply process on WebCat . The reader can indicate the preferred site for the thesis to be delivered to, for use in the library.
  • The NOL Library also keeps masters and undergraduate projects, which have a slightly different procedure. Please contact the staff at for more information.

At Winchester School of Art Library:

  • To access Stack/Store items either use the online Requests and Document Supply process on WebCat, or fill in a form manually at the loans desk. The majority of items kept in the store areas are journals that the library is no longer subscribed to, KRL patterns and related items and VHS tapes and DVDs.

Where are the course boxes?

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The course boxes are part of our Course Collections.  They are in a separate sequence from the book stock in the Course Collection area. Ask a member of staff at the Loans desk to help you, if you cannot find what you are looking for.

Where can i collect my holds?

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Holds awaiting collection (available holds) can be found:

  • on ‘holds shelves’ in the Course Collection area in the Hartley Library
  • in the holds cupboard next to the help desk at the Library & Learning Commons
  • at the Loans Desk at the NOL, Health Services & WSA Libraries

We also inform you of this in the e-mail we send once the item is available. The item needs to be collected within 3 days of receiving the email otherwise it goes to the next reader or is returned to the library shelves.

What is permalink?

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Within WebCat , on the bottom of the screen you can see the Permalink button, which is short for "permanent link.“  This button enables you to cut and paste a permanent link from any WebCat page.  You could, for example, save the links to all the books which might be useful for a particular piece of work.

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