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Members of the public

Our primary aim is to support teaching, learning and research undertaken by members of the University. Services to the wider academic and local community are provided where this can be achieved without prejudice to the primary clientele. Members of the public are welcome to use the University Library for reference and private study (except during the University Examinations period, late March to early June). This gives access to all our printed materials. It will not give access to e-resources.

On visiting the Library you will be asked to provide photographic proof of identification, personal information about yourself and agree to abide by the Library Rules (PDF). It may be possible to borrow by joining as an External user, if you meet the designated criteria.

Access for visitors varies depending in the opening hours of the building. Generally, the following times applies:
Monday to Friday 08:00 - midnight
Saturday 08:00 - 21:00
Sunday 08:30 to midnight

Monday to Friday 08:30 - 17:00 (may be later dependent on building opening hours and staff availability) Contact us for details about specific days of times if necessary.


  • We can help with general enquiries, although long or complicated enquiries will be handled if time permits.
  • Please make any enquiries during the following hours: 09:00 - 17:00 Monday to Thursday, 10:00 - 17:00 on Fridays.
  • Limited staffing during the evenings and weekends means that staff on duty offer only minimal assistance to visitors.

Criteria for joining the Library

Borrowing rights may be granted, at the discretion of the University Librarian, to bona fide scholars for whom Reading is the local university. Bona fide scholars may include:

  • graduates of the University of Reading
  • lecturers from other institutions in the Reading area not part of the SCONUL Access scheme 
  • members of the Friends of the University of Reading
  • professionals working and living in the Reading area, eg teachers at local schools keeping up with their subject 
  • researchers and writers living in the Reading area 

An annual subscription costs £90. Discounted to £45 for graduates of the University of Reading and Bulmershe College, Friends of the University of Reading, retired staff, and teachers at partnership schools.

Academic staff and some students at universities which are members of the SCONUL Access scheme may be eligible to obtain borrowing rights free of charge. Please see our SCONUL Access page for further information.

Applying for borrowing rights

  1. Download the External borrowers application form (PDF).
    Printed copies are also available from the Welcome Desk on the Ground Floor of the Library.
  2. Send the completed form to the Library User Services Team (see Contact and support for our postal address) or email it to
  3. If eligible, you will be invited to register and to pay the appropriate fee detailed above.
  4. Registration in person is available at the Welcome Desk Monday to Friday 09:00 - 19:00 and Saturday and Sunday 09:00 - 17:00 during term time. During vacation, hours may vary but ordinarily are Monday to Friday or 09:00 - 16:30. If you cannot visit during these hours please contact the Library User Services Team (email: or telephone: (0118) 378 8770) to make alternative arrangements.

See our Privacy notice (PDF) for information on what personal information we collect, hold and share in order to provide Library services to you and your rights in respect of the data we hold about you. 


You will be given an External borrowers card which enables you to borrow:

  • five standard or term loan items
  • these can be borrowed for up to six weeks unless recalled by another person
  • you will be fined 80p per day for items that have been recalled and are overdue

Using self-service features on the catalogue

When you register you will be given a PIN which you can use to access the self-service features on the catalogue system, such as renewing your loans, placing holds (on Standard loan items only), and viewing your account.

If you forget your PIN, just contact us for a reminder, but please be prepared to quote your Library card number.

Further information

Please see these links for further information: