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Library Services

Your gateway to a wide range of online information resources

Libraries near you

From 15 November 2021, OU students and staff are able to apply to visit other university libraries via the SCONUL Access scheme. It may take up to 21 working days to process your application.

Not all libraries previously in the scheme are participating, so please check the SCONUL Access website in advance and do not visit an institution until participation has been confirmed and your application has been processed.

University campuses have strict social distancing measures in place, greatly reducing access to library buildings and collections. University libraries are prioritising access to their spaces and collections for their own students. To avoid disappointment, contact your chosen library ahead of your visit to confirm their availability and requirements.

The OU Library's extensive online resources such as databases, journals, ebooks and more are available to OU students and staff 24/7.

OU students and staff who wish to access space and resources in libraries near where they live can take advantage of the following options:

SCONUL Access (UK and Republic of Ireland)

The Open University is a member of the SCONUL Access scheme. SCONUL Access allows eligible OU students and staff living in the UK or the Republic of Ireland to use and borrow books from other participating university libraries, or visit them for a quiet place to study. Most of the university libraries in the UK (and some in the Republic of Ireland) are participating in the scheme.

The following Open University students and staff are eligible to apply:

  • Staff on permanent or fixed-term contracts
  • Postgraduate research students
  • Current undergraduate and taught postgraduate students registered on a module worth 30 credits or more

When your membership expires, as long as you fulfill the criteria above, you can re-apply.

Joining or renewing SCONUL Access

You can apply for or renew SCONUL Access at any time during your module, provided you are fully registered. Your application may not start being processed until two months before your module start date if you apply in advance. It may take up to 21 working days to process your application, so do apply early enough to accommodate this.

As soon as your Sconul Access is approved, an Open University Library card will be posted out to you, if you haven’t been issued one already.

Make sure you select ‘Distance Learning Student’ at the beginning of the SCONUL Access application form.

Where you are asked for the ‘Library or ID Card number’ on the SCONUL Access application form, please type in:

  • your library card number, if you already have one, OR
  • your Personal Identifier (PI) if you don’t have a library card
  • Lost your card? Write your PI and add 'New card please'

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

For more information about how to join the SCONUL Access scheme, watch  'A Guide to Your SCONUL Application' video. 

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. 

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, 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 email address

 If you’ve never had a Library card before, put your OU Personal Identifier in this box

– otherwise put in your existing Library barcode number

 Tick the two boxes 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 send the two items you’ll need to take to your chosen library:

 #1 – the official SCONUL Access acceptance email, and

 #2 – if you’ve not had one before, we will post your Open University Library card.

The card should arrive a few days after you receive your acceptance email.

Don’t forget, once you have your email and card you can use them 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 photo ID.

Any questions? Just contact the Library Helpdesk.

SCONUL Access: bringing libraries closer to you.

Visiting your chosen library

The OU offers eduroam (education roaming), a free service which provides Wi-Fi Internet Access when you visit other academic libraries near where you live. More information on how to connect to eduroam can be found on the page Connecting to eduroam (requires login).

Participating libraries sometimes choose to offer specific services that are not automatically included in the SCONUL Access membership, such as access to computer facilities or online library resources. To avoid disappointment, remember to contact your chosen library ahead of your visit to confirm their registration requirements and to check what services are offered for your Sconul Access band.

To find out which Sconul Access libraries are currently accepting Sconul Access students/staff:
https://www.sconul.ac.uk/sconul-access / Sconul Access / Step1 Distance learning student or Academic and Support Staff  / Step2 Open University / Find / Select Map or List 

For current guidance on planning your visit at your chosen library please refer to the Sconul Access website 

 

SCURL (Scotland)

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.

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 apply for SCURL - complete the online Sconul Access application, and in the space with your Library ID/  include the words "and SCURL"

British Library (London)

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

The Open University Library building (Milton Keynes)

The Library building at Walton Hall is open to all for reference and study purposes. For information about using the Wi-Fi and computers, see the Library at Walton Hall page. To see if you are entitled to any other services such as borrowing books, check the Borrowing at the Walton Hall Library page.

Check the opening hours of the Library building and Customer Services before you visit.

Libraries near you for overseas students

Here are some options you may wish to explore:

  • Our External Libraries and catalogues page has information on overseas students’ access to libraries and includes links to library catalogues. Please, note that access to libraries varies and books are not necessarily in English.
  • Secure Electronic Delivery (SED) for articles is available from British Library On Demand . The cost of each SED varies depending upon the copyright of the item.
  • You may be able to arrange inter-library loans through your local public library or the National Library of the country you are in. A list of National Libraries is available from Wikipedia.
  • The British Council is a worldwide organisation, with a variety of roles, which helps people to access education in English. Search within the main British Council website for 'Library', and you will find many countries and services listed. There is often a charge to join, which varies from country to country, and the services that are offered will vary.