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Using other libraries and SCONUL Access

If you would like to visit a library space and use physical resources, there are plenty of options. You can use libraries near where you live through the following services:

SCONUL Access (UK and Republic of Ireland)


Do you need space to study? Somewhere quiet to do your work?


Would you like to borrow books from your local university library?


The Open University has signed up to SCONUL Access to help you with all these things.


SCONUL Access is a national scheme in the UK which allows students and staff


from over 200 member universities to use each other’s libraries.


As long as you’re currently registered on a module worth 30 credits or more,


or are a member of Staff, you are eligible – and each time you sign up for another


module after that, we can simply renew your membership.


Here’s how to apply:


Go to the OU Library website and click on “SCONUL Access Scheme”.


Scroll down and click on the link to the SCONUL Access website.


Choose “Distance Learning Student” from the list in Step #1.


Choose “Open University” from the list in Step #2 and click “Find”. You only need to apply once,


so choose your preferred member library from the list and then click “Apply for access”.


On the application form, fill in your name and OU email address.


Put your OU Personal Identifier in this box– otherwise put in your


existing Library barcode number if you have one.


Tick the two boxes and button below, and then Submit.


So, what happens next? We’ll process your application – this can take up to 21 working days.


Once that’s done we will forward the acceptance email to the email


address in your application for you to take to your chosen library.


You no longer need to carry an Open University Library card, but if you have one, that’s ok. But


it is important that you also take along some form of Photo ID such as a Passport or Driver's licence.


Don’t forget, once you have your email you can use it to join as


many SCONUL Access member libraries as you wish!


You should check with the library you want to use before your first visit, in case they’d like you


to provide anything else for registration – for example a photo, or additional photo ID.


Any questions? Just contact the Library Helpdesk.


SCONUL Access: bringing libraries closer to you.

We are part of the SCONUL Access scheme, which allows you to use other university libraries. You can borrow books or visit for a quiet place to study. Most university libraries in the UK (and some in the Republic of Ireland) are part of the scheme.

You are eligible to apply if you are living in the UK or the Republic of Ireland and are:

  • an undergraduate or taught postgraduate student, registered on a module of 30 credits or more
  • a postgraduate research student
  • an employee on a permanent or fixed term contract

When your access period ends you can re-apply, as long as you are still eligible.

Joining or renewing SCONUL Access

You do not need an OU Library card to join the SCONUL Access scheme. You do not need to apply for an Open University Library card unless you are visiting the Open University campus library to borrow print resources.

You can apply for SCONUL Access or renew your membership at any time during your module. You must be fully registered on your module to do this. It can take up to 21 working days to process your application, so make sure you apply early enough.

Here are some tips for the SCONUL Access application form:

  • Step 1: select ‘Distance Learning Student’
  • Step 2: select ‘Open University’
  • for the ‘Library or ID Card’ you can type in
    • your OU Personal Identifier if you are a student
    • or your Staff number if you are staff
    • or your OU Library ID barcode if you already have one

When your application is approved, you will receive an official SCONUL Access Acceptance email. This will be sent to the email address you used on the application. Make sure to check your spam or junk folder, just in case. With this acceptance email, you can use any of the libraries on the list. You do not need to apply for each library.

It is important to contact your chosen host library prior to going there so you can confirm how they wish you to register, what services are available for your Band, and what documentation they will need to see together with the SCONUL Access acceptance email and an acceptable form of photo ID.

Acceptable photo ID are:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • National ID card
  • OU Staff card (with photo)
  • Police / Customs / Home Office Warrant Card
  • Forces ID card
  • Photocard from another UK Legal Deposit Library (British Library, National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Trinity College Dublin)

If you are unsure, please check with your chosen library which form of ID they will accept before visiting them.

You can find and complete the application form on the SCONUL Access website.

For more details see the OU's SCONUL Access Policy.

NOTE : Please be aware that should you be under the age of 16, you would need your Parent/Guardian's consent to join the Sconul Access scheme. The online application form will have specific tick boxes for this information.

Visiting your chosen library

Some libraries may allow external users in their libraries during Summer/Vac periods, or be willing to provide other extra services that are not part of your Sconul Access. This could be computer facilities, online resources or reference only. Contact your chosen library to check what/if such services are available, before you visit.

To find out which libraries are currently accepting SCONUL Access students and staff visit the SCONUL Access website.

If you need Wi-Fi Internet access when you visit other libraries, you can use eduroam. Find out more about connecting to eduroam (requires login).

SCURL (Scotland)

We are part of SCURL. This is a group that provides access to university and HEI libraries in Scotland. Most of the libraries that are part of SCURL are also part of SCONUL Access. You may be able to use a SCURL library that is not part of SCONUL, or without registering for SCONUL membership yourself. If you wish to do this, check that this is possible by contacting the SCURL library before you visit.

British Library (London)

You can apply for a pass for the British Library's reading rooms in St. Pancras, London or Boston Spa, Yorkshire.

Libraries near you for overseas students

For students and staff who are not based in the UK or Republic of Ireland, there are some international options.

We have lists of libraries in other parts of the world, and links to library catalogues. Access to libraries varies and books may not be in English. Have a look at our External Libraries and catalogues page.

For a set fee, you can get articles through Secure Electronic Delivery (SED) with the British Library On Demand.

You may be able to arrange inter-library loans. Contact your local public library or the National Library of the country you are in. Find yours in this list of National Libraries.

The British Council is a worldwide organisation that helps people to access education in English. They have a database of libraries and services in many countries. There may be a charge to join, which varies from country to country, and the services that are offered will vary. Search for 'Library' on the British Council website.

Use of computers near you

All public libraries in the UK have internet enabled computers for everyone to use. They can be very popular, so you may have to book. These computers may be free or there may be a small charge. Most libraries charge for printing.

Some other computer facilities may be available in your areas, such as the UK online centres.

Find your nearest public library or online centre: