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, 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 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. 

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.

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.


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. 

Where can I collect my holds?

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Holds awaiting collection can be found:

  • on the ‘holds shelves’ just past the Help Desk on the main entrance level of 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.

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