Passwords and troubleshooting

Registered OU students and staff can access the Open University’s online library. It’s rare that users have technical issues but understanding how to use the online library and basic troubleshooting can help in these instances.

In most cases the only login you will need is your Open University computer username (OUCU) and password.

Technical Problems

Are you experiencing technical difficulties using Library resources? If so please try

  1. Clearing your web browser's cache. You can find help and guidance online for clearing your cache.
  2. If the problem continues try using a different web browser. Web browsers are the programs that allow you to view the internet. Common browsers include Google Chrome, Edge, Safari and Firefox. All are free to download online.
  3. Do you have any browser extensions installed? We cannot guarantee that library sites will work with these installed - if you're having difficulties please try disabling them.

If these do not resolve your issue, please contact the Library helpdesk. It is helpful to provide a screenshot of the problem or any error messages.

Using online library resources

For help accessing journal articles using Library search, take a look at Finding ejournals and articles.

We suggest that you access library resources from the Library website, Library Search or from links on your module websites. This means the only login you will need to access the Library will be your OUCU and password.

You will be asked for Athens details if you try to access eresources that the OU does not subscribe to, or if you try to access them in a way that does not allow you to be recognised as an OU user, e.g. from a Google search. ‘I am having problems accessing a resource via Athens' explains how to use the Athens login.

If we subscribe to a resource and you are unable to access it after using the Athens login, there may be a technical issue. In this case please contact the Library helpdesk. Please note the Athens login will only work for items the Library has access to. You can check this using Library Search.

You can access a subset of library resources using Google scholar. If you wish to do this please see Accessing eresources using Google Scholar

Specific Passwords

There are few library resources that need individual usernames and passwords for access. These are listed on the specific passwords page (OU login required).

What do I do if my OU passwords aren't working?

If you are an OU student or an Associate Lecturer contact the OU Computing Helpdesk at +44 (0) 1908 653972. You can also use the web form in the Computing Guide.

For all other staff and postgraduate research students, contact the IT Helpdesk at +44 (0) 1908 654321. You can also use the AskIT self-service system.

How long will my library access stay valid?

  • Undergraduate and taught postgraduate student passwords are valid from one month before the module start date and up to three months after the module ends.
  • Continuing students can access online library resources so long as you have registered and paid for your next module.
  • Postgraduate research student passwords remain valid until the date you submit your thesis.
  • All Staff passwords remain valid as long as you are employed or contracted by the OU.

Do you fall into one of the categories above, but are unable to access the library? If so please contact the Library helpdesk.

Those that are no longer studying or employed by the OU may be interested in finding out more about access to resources after study.

Registering with individual databases

Some databases, such as ScienceDirect and Scopus, make registration compulsory the first time you visit. Others, such as EBSCO and Proquest, offer registration as an optional extra. Registering your personal details in this way creates a free personal account. This gives you access to additional services - for example you can save articles in folders in between visits, create alerts, and save searches for future use.

If you decide to create a personal account within a database you should continue to access the database by following links from the OU Library website, and entering your Open University computer username and password whenever prompted. Once you are in the database, you can then sign in to your personal account using the username and password you set up when you registered.