Senate House Library

Borrowing and renewing books

This page provides information about borrowing books from the Library, renewing, or retuning them.

Senate House Library service desk

Borrowing and renewing books

This page provides information about borrowing books from the Library, renewing, or retuning them.

Quick links

Borrowing books

The number of books you can borrow at any one time will depend on your borrowing allowance.

If an item doesn’t scan, it might be because it’s:

  • for “Reference use only” within the Library
  • you might have reached your loan limit
  • or you may have a fine on your account

Checking your loans receipt will ensure your books have been correctly checked out. The receipt also shows when each item is due back. If you experience any issues, staff at the Service Desk will be happy to help. Please note that fines are charged for the late renewal or the late return of books.  You can pay fines online via the University of London Online Store.

Most books have a four week loan period. Some of our more popular ones have one or two week loans. Reference items, journals, theses and books over 100 years old are ‘Reference only’, for use in the Library

You can also borrow books via our Postal Loans service.


Books are automatically renewed five times, unless the book has been requested by another reader. The automatic extension of the loan will be for two or four weeks each time (depending on the loan period of the specific item). This ensures that readers are not penalised for forgetting to renew items that are not in demand by other readers.

What if an item you wish to look at is on loan?

You can place a reservation via the Library Catalogue by clicking the 'request' button next to the item listing.

What if an item on loan is requested by another reader?

You will be asked to return the item by its next due date. You will be fined on the recalled item if you cannot return it by then, and you will need to get in touch with us to renew any other items you have out.

Will you be fined if you forget to renew at the end of the automated renewals period?

The answer should say that you will not be fined as we have now abolished all fines except on recalled and lost items, but you should get in touch with us so we can confirm you still have your books and re-issue them, in order to restart the autorenewals process

Will you still receive courtesy notices by email while your books are being automatically renewed?

Yes. Even though your books are renewed automatically, please keep checking the courtesy emails to ensure that no one else has requested your items. (The notices are a courtesy - you are still responsible for loaned items.)

Is there a grace period once the automated renewals end?

Yes. There is a three-day grace period, after which you will need to keep renewing your books as usual.

Can you still renew books indefinitely?

Yes. Providing that the item has not been requested by another reader and that your Library membership is valid beyond the return date of the book.

How do you renew books?

You can do this online:

  • By logging in to your Library record, you will need your membership number to do this.  Please be aware that fines are calculated when you return or renew overdue items, so you will not see any fines accrued on overdue items until then. Please check that all your books have been renewed successfully and do please take note of the return date.  Note: If you have previously book-marked the login page please be aware it has been moved as part of a recent upgrade to the library management system.  You should replace the URL in the old bookmark with this one:
  • By telephone during opening hours on 020 7862 8500, press option 3. (You don’t need your membership number to do this).

In person at the Service Desk on the 4th floor.

  • Using a self-issue machine on the 4th floor. When renewing your books, please check to make sure all items have been renewed successfully. Your receipt will give your new due date(s) and indicate if the renewals have been successful.
  • Carrel occupants can issue 20 books to the carrel. These are for use only within the carrel and are issued for one week at a time. Books may be renewed online by manually entering the details off of your carrel key ring fob - enter the carrel name e.g. carrel A the and full membership number on the fob, e.g. 01999 ......or by taking the books to staff at the Service Desk

Books returned or renewed late incur fines. It’s your responsibility to return or renew them on time. While every effort is made to contact readers, we cannot confirm or guarantee delivery of Library reminder notices.

Why can’t you renew a book?

  • Another reader has requested it.
  • There are fines or charges over £10.00 on your Library card.
  • You were using your carrel allowance and your carrel occupancy has expired.
  • You have another overdue book on your account that has been recalled for use by another reader.
  • Your membership card has expired.

If your card has expired, but you are continuing your course, please visit the Membership Desk with the correct ID and staff will be able to renew your books.

Having outstanding books or fines on your Library account may delay the receipt of your final results and graduation.

If you have any problems renewing items, or if you wish to pay your fines in order to renew your books, please visit the Service Desk, or telephone the library on 020 7862 8500, press option 3 during operating hours (you don’t need your membership card with you to do this). You can also pay outstanding fines online via the University of London Online Store.

Please remember that fines are charged on all overdue Library books.