Borrowing, Renewing and Returning

How many items can I borrow?

If you are a current student or member of staff you can borrow the following number of items from our libraries:

Print itemsAudio-visual items
Number of items 20 Eight

In addition to the above, if you are a current teaching practice student you can borrow up to 20 items for use in the classroom from the Learning and Teaching collection at the Mary Seacole Library.

For information about borrowing a laptop please visit our IT Support page.

How long can I borrow items for?

Items can be borrowed for the following periods of time:

Loan typeCurrent studentsCurrent staff
Normal loan Four weeks 10 weeks
Short loan

Two weeks Two weeks
One week One week
One day One day

You may be able to borrow items for longer, please visit our services for disabled users page for details.

How do I borrow items?

Borrow items using our self-service machines and your library account. A receipt is provided displaying the date when your borrowed items need to be returned or renewed.

If you already have other items on loan which are more than 28 days overdue or an unpaid fine of £5 or more you will temporarily lose your borrowing rights. Please return or renew the overdue item or pay the fine either in full or so that it is under £5 for your borrowing rights to be restored.

Can someone else borrow items on my behalf?

If you are unable to visit one of our libraries, providing the criteria below are met, you can nominate someone else to borrow items on your behalf. Your nominated borrower must visit one of our libraries during staffed hours with:

  • A signed and dated letter, as proof of evidence from you that they are your nominated borrower (valid for use only on the day the letter is dated)
  • Your University ID/library card
  • Proof of their own identification, either one current and official form of photo ID or two recent (less than three months old) documents including their name and current address 
How do I borrow items as a Distance Learner?

If you are a UK-based student on a course which is officially delivered via the distance learning mode of study, you should be eligible for postal loans. Click on the button below to submit your postal loan requests:

Postal loan request form

  • Items can only be posted to a UK address
  • Available for four week and two week loan types only
  • Initial loan periods will be increased to allow for time spent in the post
  • Items on loan will be reserved and posted when available

Items can be returned by post using the address labels provided. You are responsible for the cost of returning your items by post and we advise that you keep your proof of postage in case you encounter any problems.

You can reserve library items that are currently unavailable because:

  • All copies are on loan
  • Copies are held at one of our other library sites

Please use our Inter-Library Loans service to request items that are not held by our libraries.

How do I reserve an item?

Follow the five steps below to reserve an item using our library catalogue:

  1. Search for an item on the library catalogue
  2. Click on 'reserve this item'
  3. Login with your library account
  4. Choose the library site where you want to collect your item
  5. Click on 'reserve'

You cannot reserve items available on the shelves at the same library site from where you want to borrow them. If you can’t find an item you think should be available please first check the trolleys of items waiting to be re-shelved and then enquire at a library helpdesk.

How do I cancel a reservation?

Follow the five steps below to cancel a reservation using our l
ibrary catalogue:

  1. Click on 'My account'
  2. Log in with your library account
  3. Click on the reservations tab
  4. Choose 'cancel' next to the item you have previously reserved
  5. Log out of your library account

Cancelling a reservation you no longer need may allow another user to borrow it.

How will I know when my reserved item is ready to collect?

We will notify you by email or text when your reserved item is available to collect. From the date we send our email or text you have seven days to collect the item.

Reserved items should be borrowed using our self-service machines. Where you collect them depends on the library site:

Curzon Library
Reservation shelves near to the library helpdesk
Mary Seacole Library
School of Art Library
Reservation trolley near to the library helpdesk
School of Jewellery Library

All reserved items are filed under the first letter of your surname/family name and the first six digits of your borrower number, e.g. Tom Jones 11701178 would be filed under J117011.

Renewing the items you have borrowed is the best way to keep using them and avoid library fines. Click on the button below to renew your items online using your library account:

Renew your items online

How else can I renew items?

We have a number of other ways you can renew the items you have borrowed:

  1. Self-service machines using your library account
  2. Telephoning your home library
  3. In person at a library helpdesk during staffed hours

There are times when you will not be able to renew the items you have borrowed because:

  • They have been reserved
  • They are one day short loan items
  • They are vocal or orchestral performance items
  • You have library fines above £5
  • Your borrowing rights have been temporarily withdrawn

Returning the items you have borrowed on or before the date they are due back avoids library fines and allows other users to borrow them.

You can check when your items are due to be returned by:

  • Logging in to your library account
  • Checking the self-service machine receipt provided when your items were borrowed
  • Looking out for our reminders:
Timing of remindersDelivery method
Three days before return date email
One day before return date email
On return date email
Six days after return date email and text
18 days after return date email and text
28 days after return date post or email if post not possible

How do I return items?

You can return items you have borrowed to any of our libraries. How you return them depends on which of our library sites you are using:

Curzon LibraryMary Seacole LibrarySchool of Art LibrarySchool of Jewellery Library

Book return slots located as you enter the library

Self-service machine for oversized items

Self-service machine

Book return box

Self-service machine

Book return box

Self-service machine

If you return an item using a self-service machine, please place the item either on the trolley or in the book return box next to the self-service machine after it has been returned. 

Can I return items by post?

Yes, you can post your returned items to their home library.

It is a good idea to post your items early enough to avoid late returns and library fines. You are responsible for the cost of returning your items by post and we advise that you keep your proof of postage in case you encounter any problems.

Before you return your items please remove any bookmarks, post-it notes or note markers from their pages.

We charge fines for all library users at all times, including vacation periods, on all of our items not returned or renewed on time:

Loan type

Amount per itemMaximum amount
Normal loan Four weeks 10p per day £10 per item*
Short loan

Two weeks 40p per day £10 per item*
One week 75p per day £10 per item*
One day 75p per day £10 per item*

*The maximum fine per item is £10 for each loan/renewal transaction.

How do I pay a library fine?

There are several ways that you can pay your fines:

Library helpdesks Cash, credit/debit card or cheque
Self-service machines Cash only
Telephone Credit/debit card
Online Credit/debit card for charges of £1 or more
Post Cheque, payable to Birmingham City University, posted to home library
What do I do if I have lost a library item?

Please contact your home library if you think that you have lost one of our borrowed items.

We may ask you to either replace or pay the cost of items that are:

  • Overdue for 28 days or more
  • Lost
  • Returned damaged
  • Returned with parts missing

If you have replaced and subsequently find a long-term overdue or lost item we will return the replacement copy to you. If you have paid for and subsequently find a long-term overdue or lost item within three months of paying we will offer a refund.

For more information please read our fines policy

Download Fines Policy

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