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For most modules, the wide range of online information resources available via this website will be sufficient. However, we acknowledge that Open University students and staff sometimes need to use other libraries to borrow books, to use collections for reference, or as a quiet place to work or study.


The SCONUL Access scheme allows students and staff to gain access to and borrow books at other libraries which belong to the scheme which covers most of the university libraries in the UK (and some in Ireland).

  • Undergraduate, taught masters, Masters and postgraduate students studying modules worth 30 or more credits,  may apply for Distance Learning Student Band B membership.  Membership will cover the study period of the module(s) you are currently registered on.
  • PhD, EdD research, MPhil students and staff may apply for Band A membership.

How do I join SCONUL Access?

Follow the instructions below to apply online (we suggest you right-click on the link below and select ‘Open in new tab’ or ‘Open in new window’).

  • Please read the steps below - then access the Sconul Access website
  • STEP #1: tell us what kind of user you are: Select 'Distance Learning Student' if you are an undergraduate or taught masters student; otherwise select the appropriate category for Research or Staff
  • STEP # 2: tell us the name of your institution: Select 'Open University'
  • Click 'Find'
  • Scroll down to beneath STEP #3 and click 'See results as a list'
  • Select the library you wish to use. Note: you will not be restricted to this library and can use the same email and library card you receive to join any other host libraries
  • Click 'Apply for Access'
  • Fill in the online form. Note: In the ‘Library or ID Card no.' box type in your Open University Library barcode number if you already have one, otherwise type in your student/staff PI number, and we will post you an Open University Library card.
  • Tick both agreement acceptance boxes - this is required
  • Click 'Submit'

Applications may take up to 15 working days to process thereafter. You will receive an email to confirm that your application has been received, and a second email when access is confirmed.

You will receive an Open University Library card (if you do not already have one) through the post and an email detailing your Band, SCONUL access expiry date and Library barcode number.

Visiting your chosen library

Please note that most Sconul Access host libraries have joining restrictions  currently in place due to revision and exam periods, and stock-taking. Most host libraries will not register a new borrower in the last month of a valid period. Please call host libraries ahead to confirm whether registrations are being accepted at the moment. Anglia Ruskin Cambridge and Chelmsford libraries require you to provide a current digital photo when registering (this could be in the form of a jpg or png file provided on a flash disk).

You should take your library card and email when you go to register with your chosen library. Use the SCONUL Access website to find out more about the Library you are planning to visit including their opening hours and whether you need any other paperwork or photos for registration, whether they have specific registration periods and whether they provide any computer access. Do note that many libraries are withdrawing computer, wifi and internet access. Open University students do not currently have access to EduRoam.

You are responsible for all fines and charges associated with any items that you borrow.

How do I renew my SCONUL Access membership?

If you register for a further module with 30 or more credits, follow the above registration procedure to receive an  updated email. Type in your existing Open University Library barcode in the  'Library or ID Card number' field.


The Open University Library is a member of the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL). Most SCURL libraries can be accessed by joining SCONUL Access. However, academic staff and postgraduate research students can join SCURL Research Extra to gain access to specialist libraries that are not members of the SCONUL Access scheme. To join this scheme, complete the SCURL Research Extra application form and post to the Open University Library Helpdesk.


The OU Library is a member of the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries. Nearly all M25 libraries can be accessed by joining SCONUL Access. However, their Search25 tool has useful information for academic staff and postgraduate research students on how to access specialist libraries that are not members of the SCONUL Access scheme.

Open University students and staff are entitled to apply for a pass for the British Library's St. Pancras reading rooms in London.

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Phone: +44 (0)1908 659001

Contact the helpdesk seven days a week for help, information and advice on using the library.

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