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Borrowing, renewing and returning

Try our eBooks as an alternative to borrowing

Find out more about eBooks

How many items can I borrow?

Students and staff 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 Teaching Practice Collection located at our Mary Seacole Library.

Your borrowing rights will be blocked if an item already on loan to you is 28 days or more overdue.

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 typeLoan period
Standard Two weeks
Teaching Practice Collection Four weeks
 

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


How do I borrow items?

You can borrow items using our self-service kiosks. You will need your ID card and library PIN to use self-service.

Reset/Change PIN

Alternatively you can reserve items for collection if they are out on loan or located at another campus. When your reserved items are available for collection we will notify you by email. We hold your items for 7 days from the date the email was sent. 

If you miss your appointed slot your reserved items will be returned to our libraries for shelving.


Can someone else borrow items on my behalf?

As a first resort we encourage students and staff to make use of our electronic resources if they are unable to borrow books in person.

In exceptional circumstances we may give permission for another student or staff member to borrow books on your behalf. We will require:

  • A letter from your personal tutor or head of department confirming that you have exceptional circumstances which mean you are unable to come into campus.
  • 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).
  • 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.

Please contact a Customer Services Supervisor for permission prior to arranging any collection.

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 they have been returned


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 see our items not in stock information for advice with obtaining item not held in our libraries.

How do I reserve an item?

When reserving an item you will need to sign-in to Library Search using your university email address and password.

To reserve an item:

  1. Click on the item's title from your list of results in Library Search
  2. From the 'How to Get It' feature click on 'Request'
  3. Choose your pickup location
  4. Enter a date after which the item is no longer required
  5. Click on 'Send Request'
How will I know when my reserved item is ready to collect?

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

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

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

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.

How do I cancel a reservation?

When cancelling a reservation you will need to sign-in to Library Search using your university email address and password.

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

  1. Expand the drop-down menu adjacent to your name
  2. Click on 'My Requests'
  3. Click on 'Cancel' next to the item you no longer require
  4. Click on 'Cancel It' to confirm
Why not try our eBooks instead?

Find out more about our eBooks as an alternative to reservations:

Help with eBooks

Our auto renewals will renew your items on loan for a further two weeks, unless:

  • They have been reserved by another user
  • They are orchestral sets or other performance material
  • They are Inter-Library Loans
  • They are Laptops

One week prior to their current due date, you will receive an auto renewal notification sent to your BCU email address informing you if there are items which cannot be renewed.

Auto renewals will not take place if your borrowing rights have been blocked because an item already on loan to you is 28 days or more overdue.


How else can I renew items?

Visit Library Search to renew your items online

Library Search

When renewing an item online you will need to sign-in to Library Search using your university email address and password.

If you have booked a study space to use our libraries you can also renew items using our self-service kiosks, alternatively you can telephone our libraries.

Returning items not eligible for renewal before their due date avoids library fines and allows other users to borrow them.

You can check the due date of your items by:

  • Signing in to Library Search using your email address and university password
  • Checking the self-service kiosk receipt provided when your items were borrowed
Timing of overdue notificationsDelivery method
Seven days before due date email - if item cannot be automatically renewed by the due date
On due date email
Six days after due date email
18 days after due date email
28 days after due date email

If your item(s) remains overdue after 28 days, the item will be considered to be lost, your borrowing rights will be suspended, and you may be charged for the replacement cost.

How do I return items?

You may deposit items using the return boxes located outside the Curzon Library or Mary Seacole Library. To get a return receipt, you can also return items using our self-service kiosks and placing the items on the return trolleys/boxes adjacent to the kiosks, or via the book return machine slots at Curzon Library.

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 the following fines for reserved items not returned by their due date:

Loan typeAmount per itemMaximum amount
Standard Two weeks £1.00 per day £10 per item
Teaching Practice Collection Four weeks £1.00 per day £10 per item

You will receive an auto renewal notification sent to your BCU email address informing you if an item cannot be automatically renewed.


How do I pay a library fine?

You can pay your fines by:

Telephone Credit/debit card (Curzon and Mary Seacole Library)
Online Credit/debit card for fines of £1 or more
Post Cheque, made payable to Birmingham City University, posted to our Curzon Library or Mary Seacole Library
In person Visit the library Help Desk during staffed hours, alternatively use the self-service machines in the library

When making a payment online you will need to sign-in to Library Search using your university email address and password.

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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