Accessing our Libraries

Accessing our Libraries
Members of University of Aberdeen

All registered staff and students of the University of Aberdeen are entitled to free membership of the University Library. Details of borrowing entitlements are available.

Students are automatically made members when they register with the university.

Staff and Honorary Staff will normally be registered automatically. Queries to Marion Blacklaw, the Circulation Services Manager.

Retired staff should consult Human Resources to determine their eligibility for Library membership.

Temporary Services Staff, who are not issued with an ID card but who have a contract with a University department, should go through your department to obtain a completed membership proposal form and the appropriate fee before bringing these together with suitable photo ID to the library, where you can complete an individual membership form.

Your ID card is also your Library card.

NHS Grampian staff

NHS staff may join the University Library. Please go to the Medical Library Information for NHS Staff web page for more information.

Details of borrowing entitlements are available.

SCONUL Access - Visit other University Libraries, or come and visit ours

The University of Aberdeen is a member of the SCONUL Access reciprocal scheme. SCONUL Access grants borrowing privileges to many types of library users working or studying at participating higher education libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Each participating library chooses which types of users to accept under the scheme. Its users are then offered exactly the same level of service by other member libraries.

Full scheme details and a list of participating institutions are available on the SCONUL Access web site. For local guidance contact Marion Blacklaw, the Circulation Services Manager

Who's eligible?

SCONUL Access provides borrowing privileges for most:

  • academic staff on open or fixed term contracts
  • postgraduate research students registered for a PhD or similar qualification
  • part-time, distance learning and placement students
  • full-time postgraduates
  • SCONUL Access also provides for a reference only service for most full-time undergraduate students and staff of a few higher education libraries not participating in the reciprocal borrowing arrangements

Access to IT facilities and electronic library resources are not normally included in the scheme. Borrowing entitlements - e.g. number of loans, loan period and types of material may vary among institutions.

How do I join?

1. University of Aberdeen staff and students

Apply online at the SCONUL Access website, entering University of Aberdeen as your institution and selecting the library you wish to visit from the drop-down list. You only have to apply once, even if you wish to use several libraries. There is no limit to the number of SCONUL Access libraries you can join.

An application will be sent to the Library for authorising and you will receive an email confirming your membership, provided that your University of Aberdeen library record has no outstanding fines, overdues, etc.

Your authorisation email will only be sent to your official University of Aberdeen email account, so use this address when applying. Allow two working days for processing your application.

Your SCONUL Access membership will be valid until the expiry date of your student registration or employment contract, or for a maximum of 3 years, whichever is shorter.

2. Staff and students from other institutions

On your first visit come to the Sir Duncan Rice Library during opening hours. Your registration will be processed and you will receive your borrowing card immediately.

Bring with you:

  • a printed version of your SCONUL Access authorisation e-mail
  • your current library / ID card from your home institution

You will be asked to complete an External Membership form. You will receive a University of Aberdeen External Member Library card, valid for the same duration as your SCONUL Access membership. Please bring this card on all subsequent visits, both to gain access to the library and to borrow.

Visiting other libraries

University of Aberdeen staff and students should check the web sites of the libraries before visiting for opening hours and any requirements or restrictions they may have e.g. for a passport size photo or limited admissions hours.

You can also check the library catalogues of libraries you wish to visit. JISC Library Hub Discover is a union catalogue that provides access to the merged online catalogues of many of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland, most are participating in the SCONUL Access scheme.

Take with you:

  • A printout of your SCONUL access authorisation email
  • Your University of Aberdeen ID card

The libraries you join will issue you with a library card which will have the same expiry date as your SCONUL Access membership approval email.

Borrowing entitlement

Staff and students from other institutions may borrow:

  • up to 5 items (no borrowing rights for undergraduates)
  • the normal loan period is 4 weeks
  • books may be recalled for use by other readers before the original due date; these books must be returned by the amended due date
  • 3-day loan and 24 hour loan periodicals may be borrowed
  • loans may be renewed if not required by another reader

You will not be able to borrow Heavy Demand material.
You will not be able to make inter-library loan requests (you should use the ILL service of your home institution)
Fines will be charged for overdue items.

Walk-In Users Service

You can register to use the Walk-In Users Service to access a restricted number of our databases. Access is from dedicated PCs on Floor 1 and Floor 2 in the Sir Duncan Rice Library.


1. University of Aberdeen staff and students

You will be subject to the rules of the library that you join and you will be responsible for any fines or other charges incurred.

Membership of the SCONUL Access scheme may be withdrawn if you cease to be a member of good standing at the University of Aberdeen Library or if you infringe the rules and regulations of any SCONUL library that you visit.

Data Protection: Personal data supplied by you will be used only for the purposes of administering the scheme, including transfer of data between home and host libraries and vice versa.

2. Staff and students from other institutions

Please see our Access Policy, Library Regulations and Users' Responsibilities.

SCONUL Access members who default will be reported to their home institution who may take disciplinary action.

Members of the Public, Businesses and Library Membership

Members of the public


Individuals, other than registered staff and students of the University of Aberdeen, have free access to the Library for personal reference and research. If you wish to use The Sir Duncan Rice Library or Taylor Library you must provide proof of identity, including address, before an access pass is issued.

If you wish to borrow from the Library, you may do so through your local public library or by paying to become an external member. Please provide written identification, including name and address, when taking out external membership.
For Information on borrowing entitlements, go to the Borrowing from our libraries pages. Please note external users, whether borrowers or not, have NO free access to the Inter-Library Loan service.

Corporate membership

Please contact Alyson Petrie at The Sir Duncan Rice Library on 01224 272580. 


Graduates have access to full-text materials as held in the JSTOR and Project Muse collections. Our subscription gives graduates access to more than 2000 academic journals across all disciplines, dating from the 17th Century to the present day. This material has previously only been available to current staff and students but is now available to all of our alumni too. 

Further information is available from the University’s Alumni services web page at To access the above resources, you will need to register for an account with the Alumni Hub once you have graduated.

Please note: Alumni access to resources is via the Alumni Hub for University of Aberdeen graduates, not via Primo.

Please see below for information regarding Library membership for graduates. Our Library guide for alumni provides further details about access to University of Aberdeen resources. 

External membership

3 Month Membership

£15 Subscription + £30 Deposit = £45

The deposit is returned when all books have been returned, provided there are no outstanding fines etc.
This membership can not be renewed after the 3 months are up. If you wish to continue as a member, an annual membership must be taken out.

Annual Membership

Aberdeen graduates: £20 subscription plus £30 deposit = £50.00
Others: £40 subscription plus £30 deposit = £70.00
The deposit is returned when all books have been returned, provided there are no outstanding fines etc.

Friends of the Library

Individual External users who join the Friends of Aberdeen University Library can also join the Library. The same conditions apply as to 3 month and annual memberships. The library borrowing membership costs detailed below are in addition to Friends' subscriptions.

Aberdeen graduates: Annual fee of £15 plus £30 deposit = £45.00
Others: Annual fee of £25 plus £30 deposit = £55.00
All Life Members of Friends: Free borrowing


Local Schools - Primary & Secondary

We offer a range of services for local primary and secondary schools, allowing access to printed and online library resources. See our Schools pages for full details.

Library Access Policy

The University welcomes users to its libraries from within the University, from other educational institutions, business users and the general public. Security systems are in place in all of our libraries to help ensure a safe and pleasant working environment for all visitors and staff and to help protect the Library resources.

1. All users of the Library must carry valid identification to be shown to staff on request. Registered users must carry a valid ID/Library Card which will serve as a form of identification and a means of access to services and facilities. This Card is not transferable. (Library Regulation 1.5)

  • Users will be required to present their ID/Library Card to gain admission to the Sir Duncan Rice Library and Taylor Library.
  • Users may be required to present adequate identification to gain admission to Medical Library.
  • A valid ID/Library Card will be required for borrowing and certain other services.

2. Where a user has breached Library Regulations e.g. excessive fines or persistent bad behaviour, they may be banned from entry despite having a valid ID or Library Card, in accordance with Library Regulation 5.9 which states: Any disorderly or improper conduct or contravention of Library Regulations will render the person(s) responsible liable to a fine and/or suspension from the use of the Library.

3. Members of the University (staff and students) are issued with ID Cards which entitles them to full Library access and borrowing rights.

4. University users in the following categories (without University ID Cards) may apply for a Library Card/Access Pass:

a. Students who have been granted extensions to complete their dissertations, for the period of their extension, on production of proof of this extension

b. Visiting scholars who are attached to the University on production of proof of attachment and length of stay

c. Staff or students who have lost their University ID Cards

d. Staff or students who have forgotten their University ID Cards

5. Users from outside the University in the following categories are welcome to use the Library (children aged 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult at all times):

a. Members of the public who wish to consult any of our collections, including the European Documentation Centre

b. Students from other HEIs or FE colleges including those who have registered with a national access/borrowing scheme

c. Visiting scholars or NHS staff not attached to the University including those who have registered with a national access/borrowing scheme

d. School pupils and teachers outwith organised visits

e. Visitors on Open Days or organised visits as part of a Library or University programme

f. Visitors attending meetings or interviews, delivering packages, workmen and dependents/friends of University users.

6. Policy on University users without University ID Cards

  • Categories 4 a-b: a Library Card entitling borrowing will be issued on production of proof of attachment to the University and period of attachment. The Card will be issued for that period. A form must be filled in and details logged on the Library system.
  • Category 4 c: for access to the Sir Duncan Rice Library, a one off Access Pass will be issued for one week which will allow the user time to obtain a replacement. Thereafter they will not be allowed into the Sir Duncan Rice Library without a valid University ID Card. The user will be made aware of this fact. The Access Pass will only be issued on proof of identity. A form must be filled in and details logged on the Library system.
  • Category 4 d: for access to the Sir Duncan Rice Library, a day Access Pass will be issued. The user will be allowed an Access Pass on 3 separate occasions in an academic year. Thereafter they will not be allowed into the Sir Duncan Rice Library without a valid University ID Card. The user will be made aware of this fact. The day Access Pass will only be issued on proof of identity. A form must be filled in and details logged on the Library system.

7. Policy on users from outside the University

  • External Members of the University Library with borrowing rights should use their Library Card to gain access.
  • Categories 5 a-d: for access to the Sir Duncan Rice Library and Taylor Library, a day Access Pass will be issued to all bona fide applicants showing suitable proof of identity. They will be offered an extended Access Pass if they wish to consult on a regular basis, and External Subscription Membership if they wish to borrow.
  • Categories 5 e-f: an Access Pass will not be required for access to the Sir Duncan Rice Library; visitors will be admitted by Library staff.

8. Where security access gates are in place, the following conditions apply:

  • A valid University ID Card or Library Card must be used to access and exit the Library. Only in exceptional circumstances will anyone be allowed in without an ID or Library Card e.g. workmen or organised groups on Library tours. Those without an ID or Library Card may alert Library staff and apply for entry at the Welcome Desk.

9. Information

  • University users must produce proof of identity when applying for a Library Card or Access Pass.
  • Users from outside the University applying for an Access Pass must produce proof of identity in the form of official photographic ID containing their name, such as a passport, driving licence, travel pass, work pass or bank/credit card with photograph. Applicants for a Library Card with borrowing rights must additionally provide proof of address from a recent bank statement or utility bill.
  • Each applicant must fill in an appropriate form, accepting certain conditions in line with Data Protection legislation and sign a disclaimer that the Library is not responsible for loss or damage to their personal property.
  • Users' details will be logged on the Library system and acknowledged in compliance with Data Protection legislation.
  • Additional conditions apply in the Special Collections Centre. Before using the facilities, all users must sign their name in the register provided and give such additional details as are requested. In the absence of a valid University ID/Library Card, full identification (including photographic) will normally be requested.

August 2018