Access to other university libraries through SCONUL

What is the SCONUL Access scheme?

The Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), operates a co-operative scheme called SCONUL Access which includes over 170 higher education libraries in the UK and Ireland, making it easier for students and academic staff to use libraries conveniently near to home or work throughout the year.

This scheme enables staff and students to visit most of the university libraries in the UK and Ireland for reference purposes.
Academic staff, postgraduate students, and registered part-time, distance learning, and placement students are generally able to register locally to borrow material from other SCONUL Access member libraries. Full-time undergraduate students may use other libraries on a reference-only basis (no borrowing).

Please note: we have Sconul Access restrictions in place Tues 19 April - Tues 31st May inclusive (Summer revision / examination period). Sconul users will not be able to sign in or register during this 6-week period.

How to join the SCONUL Access scheme

To join SCONUL Access simply go to the SCONUL Access webpage and fill in the online form.
  • Select your user type and the name of your university, then you will see a list of institutions that you will be able to visit. Choose one then click on "Apply for Access" and fill in the form, entering your UoB student number or UoB Staff username then click "Submit". You do not need to make multiple applications as your authorisation is valid at all the participating institutions listed.
  • Once you have submitted the form your home library will process your request. You must be registered as a current library user (i.e. have a library/ID card) and be in good standing with your own library (i.e. have no outstanding fines or overdue books).
  • You will then get an email which, when presented with your ID card, will allow any host library to identify you as a bona fide member of the scheme. This email can be used again at any other libraries in the SCONUL Access scheme.
  • You should always present both your student/staff card and your SCONUL email of authorisation to be able to have reference access and be signed in. You will also need both documents to register locally for borrowing where that option exists.
  • Some libraries may have restrictions, especially at exam times. They may allow you to register online if eligible. You are strongly advised to look at the webpages of the chosen institution you wish to access before your visit to check their conditions of access and registration.
  • It is recommended that you take proof of your current address.
  • SCONUL Access does not provide automatic rights to computer facilities. Many SCONUL institutions will not provide guest access to their online resources and some offer limited access, please check locally. You may be able to use a local guest wifi access where one is available. If your home institution is part of Eduroam and you have set up your phone/laptop for access, you can safely use the Eduroam wifi network at other institutions to access your home institution e-resources. You will need to bring your own internet-enabled device such as smartphone, ipad, etc.

SCONUL Summer Vacation access

Undergraduate students and taught postgraduate students at higher education institutions in the UK and Ireland whose libraries are members of the Summer Vacation Access scheme will normally be granted reference use of other higher education libraries free of charge during the summer vacations of the host institution and on production of a valid student/ID library card (i.e. you do not need a SCONUL email of authorisation during the summer vacation).

A current student university ID card will normally be acceptable, provided that it shows the holder as an undergraduate or taught postgraduate and bears a valid end date. Sometimes it may be necessary to show evidence of your level of study or of when your course ends if your card doesn’t show this information. You are strongly advised to check the library web pages, or telephone in advance of your visit, in order to be sure about vacation dates, opening hours, and documentation required.

Note: Oxford and Cambridge universities are not part of the SCONUL Access scheme. Students from these institutions may be able to access SCONUL libraries during their Summer Vacation as a courtesy and only where available.
UoB students wishing to visit Oxford and Cambridge will need to make their own arrangements directly with those libraries.

For SCONUL users coming to the University of Bristol

Please note: we have Sconul Access restrictions in place Tues 19 April - Tues 31st May inclusive (Summer revision / examination period). Sconul users will not be able to sign in or register during this 6-week period.

Reading & Reference access:

SCONUL users are able to sign in by showing both their home ID card and a print out of their SCONUL email of authorisation (except during our Access restriction periods (See bottom of page for dates)).

Registration for borrowing:

If you are eligible to register for borrowing (most SCONUL users except full-time undergraduates), you will be able to do so remotely by sending us the following:

  • a copy of your SCONUL email of authorisation; please forward it to:
  • a completed registration form (click here to download)
  • a scan or digital photo of the front and back of your University/library ID card
  • a recent, colour, passport-style photograph of yourself as jpeg attachment

Please send this by email to

If you do not have access to the internet then please post your application to:

Student Engagement Team (Visitor Access)
Arts & Social Sciences Library
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol  BS8 1TJ

We will then issue you with a University of Bristol SCONUL borrowing card within 5 working days of receiving all your documents. We will email you when it is ready to collect from our Quick Service Desk, which is also open evenings and Saturdays. We will send you your library account details by email (SCONUL users can borrow up to 5 items at a time).

Information for all SCONUL Access scheme visitors:

  • You will not have access to University of Bristol computers and electronic resources. The University provides a wireless service to visitors via The Cloud which can be used free of charge on your personal internet-enabled device.
    If your University is part of Eduroam then please use your home login to use it as this offers more secure access to the Internet.
  • We have access restrictions during our exam periods in January and around May, please check this page again nearer the time for exact dates and details.


Restriction Periods:

Tues 19 April - Tues 31st May inclusive (Summer revision / examination period)

During this period we will not be allowing any users to sign in using the Sconul Access Scheme, nor to register for a borrowing account and card under the scheme.