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Loans and borrowing: Loans & Borrowing Guide

The Loans service remains a primary Library service, with over a million items you can borrow.

How many items can I borrow?

Undergraduates no limit
Taught Postgraduates no limit
Research Postgraduates no limit
Staff: University / UHS / NOC no limit
NHS Staff from Local Trusts 10
External Borrowers (personal) / AlumniSCONUL Access 10
External Borrowers (corporate) 10/15

Loan periods

Following the most recent government guidance we are:

1. resuming standard loan periods. We will automatically renew items on loan (unless requested by another person).

2. We are resuming the recall of items on loan and in demand where another person needs to use that item.

We are still offering tracked postal returns (funded by the University) for UK-based students.

Holds can be placed on items in our collections not currently on loan.  We will make items available via Click & Collect.


There are four different loan types:

Long loan (white)items are issued for an extended period and then automatically renewed.  These items can be recalled, in which case you will have a week to return them.

One week loan (yellow)items issued for a week and then automatically renewed.  These items can be recalled, in which case you will have three days to return them.

Short loan (green) - these items are now issued for one week.  These items are in high demand and cannot be renewed.  

Reference - can only be used in the library.

Returning items

Long loan and one week loan items can be returned to any library. 

If you need to return an item when the library is closed, there are returns facilities at all libraries except the Winchester School of Art Library.



Photo of a stack of books

Please see our  Library Services FAQs for the latest information on loans and borrowing. If you are away from campus, we can send you books via our postal loans service.

If you are a UK-based member of the University of Southampton you can use our tracked postal return service to return library books. This is funded by the University and you will not have anything to pay. 


Who can borrow?

Staff and students of the University of Southampton.

NOC staff.

University Hospital Southampton staff.

NHS staff from other local trusts (from Health Services Library only).

Members of the public - by applying for an External Borrower ticket. These are issued at the Librarian's discretion.

Graduates of the University of Southampton - by applying for an Alumni card.

As participating members of the SCONUL Access scheme, staff and students from participating higher education libraries can apply through this scheme to use higher education libraries throughout the UK.

Penalties for overdue items

Please return recalled items before they become overdue.

The basic rule is that if you do not return books and they become overdue, you will not be able to borrow anything or place holds until those items are returned. 

Different items have different penalties once overdue, this depends on the length of the loan:  

Loan type

Overdue penalty

Long loan and one week loan (when recalled) 

Library account is suspended once an item is three days overdue, and for seven days starting from the date the item is returned



If an item remains overdue, it will be considered as lost and recorded as a university debt.

Self-service: self-issue/return units

Libraries (including opening hours)

Hartley Library

Telephone: 023 8059 3452

Health Services Library

Telephone: 023 8079 6541

National Oceanographic Library

Telephone: 023 8059 6116

Winchester School of Art Library

Telephone: 023 8059 6982