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Using the library: Issuing, Renewing & Returning


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Borrowing Books

SSEES Library Help DeskAll current UCL students, UCL staff and external users with borrowing rights may borrow books from SSEES Library. To borrow books you can either use a self-issue machine or take your books to the Help Desk located on the Ground Floor. Your UCL card is also your library card. The self-service machines are located on the Ground Floor and the First Floor of the Library. In addition to your UCL card, you will need your four-digit PIN to borrow books at the machines.

Standard loan books may be borrowed for 8 weeks. If books are on a reading list, they are often limited to 3-day or 7-day loan to make sure everyone on a course gets a chance to use them.

Please note that reference material, journals and newspapers cannot be borrowed.

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How many books can I borrow?

UCL undergraduates and Master's students have a loan allowance of 20 books. UCL MPhil and PhD students (including those writing up) may borrow 30 books at a time. UCL staff can borrow up to 40 items. External users with a borrower's card can borrow either 3 or 5 books depending on their status.

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Returning Books

There are a number of ways to return your library books. You can use the self-service machine on the Ground Floor of the Library or you can hand your books to a member of staff at the Help Desk. Alternatively there is a book return point just outside of the Library entrance, next to the SSEES lift.

Please note that you must return your books to the Library that you borrowed them from. We do not accept books from other UCL libraries.

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Renewing Books

You can renew your loans at the Help Desk or at one of the self-service machines in the Library. There is no need to bring your books to the Library. You can also renew books online by signing into your account on Explore (see image). If you are a UCL student or a member of UCL staff, you can sign into your Library account using your UCL user ID and password. If you are an external borrower, you will need to sign in with the barcode number on the back of your UCL card and your password. (Ask at the Help Desk if you do not know what your password is.) Choose My Account and you will be given the option to renew your loans. If you are having trouble renewing an item, ask at the Help Desk or call 020 7679 8701 (internal: 28701) for assistance. Please note that 3-day loan books cannot be renewed and must be returned to the Library on or before their due date. Books requested by other borrowers can also not be renewed. There is no limit to the number of times you can borrow or renew a standard loan or 7-day loan book, provided it has not been requested by another user.

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Requesting books that are on loan

If all copies of the book you need are on loan you can request a copy via Explore. The reader who has the book will be asked to return it to the Library, although if they have only just borrowed it they will be allowed to keep it for a few days. You will be notified by email when the book has been returned to the Library. It will be held at the Help Desk for you for up to one week.

Please be aware that any book you borrow may be requested, so it is important that you check your UCL email account regularly for recall notices. (External users should check the email address they provided us with.) The loan period for a standard loan item may be shortened if it is requested, and it is your responsibility to ensure that the book is returned by the new due date. You will be fined for books that are overdue.

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Requesting items from Stores

Not all library materials are kept on the open shelves. If an item on UCL Explore is designated as 'Local Store' or 'Microfilm', it is held in an on-site store room. Such items need to be requested at the Library Help Desk.

Pamphlets and other Local Store items are usually available for loan. Rare books and microfilms are not available for loan and must be consulted in the Library.

Items that are marked 'Stores' need to be requested online via UCL Explore and can be collected from the Library Help Desk the next working day in the afternoon. To request a SSEES item from Stores you must click the Store request link in the navigation bar at top of the Explore webpage (see image) and then complete a short online form.

Most Stores items are available for loan. External users with reference-only tickets are also allowed to request items from Stores and consult the material in the Library.

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Inter-Library Loans

The Library is part of an international inter-library loan network, and UCL staff and students may request items which are not already held in any of the UCL libraries, and not easily available from any other nearby library to which UCL members have access. Full bibliographic details must be supplied, together with a copy of the source in the form found on Explore. Periodical articles usually arrive as photocopies which can be kept. Some material, especially reports and theses may be supplied as microfilm or microfiche. Some rare, valuable, or fragile items are lent on condition that they are used in the Library only. There is a £3 charge for each successful inter-library loan request. The inter-library loan service is not available to external members, who should apply through their own university, college or public library. If you require more information about the inter-library loan service, please speak to a member of staff in the Office on the Ground Floor of the Library or email

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It is important for all library users to be able to access the material they need. Therefore, we charge fines on overdue items to encourage users to return material promptly. The fines are as follows: 20p a day for standard loans, 30p a day for 7-day loans and 50p a day for 3-day loans. You will also be charged a replacement fee for any lost item.

To avoid fines:

  • Check your due dates regularly and renew items on your account via Explore.
  • UCL staff and students - check your UCL email account regularly for library loan notices. (External users - please check the email account you provided on your membership form.) Please note: we send courtesy notices for standard loans and one-week loans, shortly before the books are due, but we do not send reminders for 3-day loans, so it is your responsibility to ensure that these are returned on time. 3-day loans cannot be renewed. You may be asked to return a standard-loan book earlier than the original due date if it has been requested by another user.
  • Do not lend your card to someone else - you are responsible for the items on your account.

If you owe the Library more than £20.00 in fines, you will find that you are unable to borrow any more books, or renew the loans that you already have. You can pay your fines by cash or cheque at the SSEES Library Help Desk, or by card at the Main and Science Libraries.

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