Finding, borrowing, and returning books

The library can feel Tardis-like, seemingly bigger on the inside than it seemed when you first walked in. Many people find such a large library intimidating but it will soon come to feel cosy and familiar!

These three short videos give a good overview of borrowing books.  Tap “Read more” below if you prefer to read a (slightly more in-depth) written description:

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Decide what you are trying to find.  Are you looking for a specific book that has been recommended to you or do you want to find everything on a particular (broad or very specific) topic?  As with all searching, unless you know what you are looking for it is very difficult to know when you have found it!
  2. Love your online unit reading lists.  Click the blue button to the right of each book to find how many copies are available and at which shelfmark.  You can reserve books from here if all the copies are already on loan.
  3. Search the Library catalogue.  On the Library homepage, click the “Catalogue” tab above the purple search box in the top-right corner and then type into the box and then type in either:
    • the book title and possibly the first named author’s surname or pick the most unusual words from the title and just type these in – always enter the fewest words/names you can get away with, e.g. “Stryer biochemistry”;
    • one or two words that precisely describe your topic, e.g. “ground engineering”.
  4. Write down the classmark (shelfmark) number.  An example is shown below.  This number identifies the topic the main topic of a book.  It is printed on a label and stuck on the spine.  The books are shelved in increasing classmark number order.  Everything on each subject is usually shelved together with the same or very similar classmark numbers, making it easier to find all the books on a topic.  Each book also has three letters after the number.  These are the first three letters of the first author’s surname (or sometimes the book title).  All the books with exactly the same classmark number are arranged alphabetically by these three letter codes, so all the books on a particular narrow topic are ordered alphabetically by author.
  5. Find which shelf to visit.  The “Locate on shelf” button in the catalogue record brings up a 3D library floor plan showing where your book is shelved.  Take a moment to check which floor it is on.  Please don’t be afraid to ask at the Library Help Desk in the atrium.  We are very happy to take you to the shelf and explain how the library is laid out.
  6. Visit a self-service kiosk.  Sleek, black and easily identified by their glowing blue strips, the self-service kiosks allow you to borrow entire stacks of books at once and also check your account to check what you have on loan.  Click “Borrow books”, place your student card in the small opening until the kiosk recognises it and logs you in, then bathe all your books in the blue light within the large recess.  Once all the books appear on the screen with a green tick against them, you can take everything (remember to take your student card!) and go on your merry way.  If you get an error message, please ask a member of library staff.  We will be able to resolve the problem or issue the book to you manually.

Returning your books

Returning your books is simpler than borrowing them.  Anyone can return books; no ID card is needed.  Simply feed the items you have borrowed one at a time into the returns sorter.  The sorter will then return them on the catalogue and sort them for reshelving.  If you attempt to return more than one book at once, they will be passed back to you.

If you lose something to the conveyor belt or return something by mistake, please let a member of library or security staff know straight away and we will retrieve it for you.

Library emails

When both borrowing and returning books, you can choose to receive an email receipt to confirm the transaction.

You receive emails whenever books you borrowed renew themselves.  Please open these emails, even if you never read them.  If you consistently archive or delete library emails without first opening them, your university email spam filter might decide to send all future library emails straight to your “spam” folder.  This risks you never being shown emails asking you to bring back recalled books, which might lead to you being charged for not returning books that others are waiting to use.  We want to avoid anyone having to pay library charges, so please open all your library emails and glance at the top to make sure they don’t mention recalled books before archiving or deleting them.


Your library borrowing account

You can always check what you have on loan, what you have borrowed before and if you have any reservations to collect or recalled books to return through your Library catalogue account.  Click on the blue search button on the library homepage, then select the Library Catalogue page.  The link to your borrowing account is shown in the coloured box on the right-hand side.  Log in using the “library number” shown on your student (or staff) card.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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