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Getting Started

A guide on getting started with your campus library

Borrowing & Searching

How many items can I borrow?

Students & Staff:

Colchester - Unlimited items

Southend  - You can borrow up to 26 items at a time: 12 university items plus 14 public library items.

Loughton - Unlimited items

How long can I borrow an item for?

Colchester - has 2 loan periods, 7 day for items from the Student Collection and 12 weeks for items from the Main Collection.

Southend - All University of Essex books at Southend Forum are 7 day but are set to automatically renew if no one else needs the book. If no one requests the book, you can keep it for up to a year. If a book is requested you will be notified by email and have 6 days to return. For more details check the 'Southend Autorenewals' page. 

Southend Library users also have access to the South Essex College and Southend Borough Council books held at the Forum. These are 7 day or 3 week loans. 

Loughton - Up to 7 days

Check your e-mail

You will receive e-mails when you borrow and return books. We will also get in touch with you via e-mail when one or more of your items becomes overdue.

How to borrow an item

Colchester - Readings for your modules will be available online. Print books may be requested online via the Library website and you will get an email when your book is ready for collection. You can borrow books using the self service machine on the ground floor. 

Southend - Readings for your modules will be available online. Print books may be requested online via The Southend Borough Council website. Instructions for requesting print items are here. You can also borrow books by visiting the library and using the self service machines or taking them to the front desk on the ground floor during opening hours. 

Loughton - Most readings for your modules will be available online. Print books that are available at Loughton can be collected in the library, while print books that belong to the Colchester collection can be requested online via the Library website. When requested books are at Loughton, you will receive an email notifying you that the items are ready for collection.

How to return an item

Colchester - You can return items using the self service book return, located inside the library on the ground floor.

You can also return items when the library is closed using the external book return (opposite Silberrad Student Centre).

If you can't get to the library physically, you can send it via post, and we'll take the day you sent it as the return date.

Southend - You can return items using the self service book return or at the Library Desk on the ground floor.

You can also return books using the "Book Drop" 24/7, on the right side of the main entrance to The Forum. 

Loughton - You can return items either at the self-service kiosk in the library or by using the drop box outside the entrance. Items that are left in the drop box will be taken off your account by staff.

My Account

You can see which print books you have borrowed, and renew them to extend the loan period, via the My Account page:

Colchester & Loughton


Autorenewals Southend


We have introduced Autorenewals on University of Essex books at Southend.

This means that when you take out a book from the University of Essex Collection at The Forum, it will automatically renew for you for up to a year unless someone else needs it. If someone else requests the book you have on loan, you will be notified by email and told when to bring it back

For full details visit our Southend Autorenewals page

Searching for physical items

You can search the library in a number of ways:

Search Library - From here you can search our whole collection, including our e-resources for all 3 campuses. It also shows the print collections in Colchester and Loughton.

If you want to refine your search, you can use the filters on the left-hand side of the results screen. 

Southend books - This search allows you to browse all of the books in the Southend library, where the University books are integrated with the public library collection. For more information, watch the Southend Search video. 

Finding books on our shelves

Colchester and Loughton

You can browse our shelves when visiting the library during opening hours. Signage will tell you what subject is on what floor and further guidance can be found on shelves.  Each item has a classification number on its spine to help you find the exact location. Print books can be requested online and you will get an email when your book is ready to collect. Readings for your modules will be available online via your reading list on Moodle. Some guidance about how to virtually browse our collection can be found in our Library blog.


Each item in the catalogue has a call number which you can use to find the book on the shelves in the library. Each shelf has a label on it showing which books are shelved on it. For example the book "Business Ethics" has the call number 174.4 BUS. On the shelves there will be a sign saying Call Number 100-200. This is where you will find the book "Business Ethics".

Requesting an item that is out on loan

You can request an item if all copies are out on loan or on the shelf at another campus library. For more information see our Reservations Guide.

Southend - If someone has requested a book that you have, you will not be able to renew the book. If you are not on campus and are trying to renew a book, but can't because it has been requested by someone else, please call The Forum Helpdesk on 01702 534 111 and explain your situation.

Not in the library?

If an item isn't in one of our libraries, or available online, we may be able to get it for you.

Take a look at our Request a Resource page for more information on interlibrary loans and purchase suggestions.

Library Fines and Charges

Colchester and Loughton

At Colchester and Loughton, we charge fines for overdue items where they have been requested by another user, known as recall. Fines are charged at £2.50 per day per item. This is capped at £25 per item.


Normal and Short Loan Collection - there's a 20p per day fine on each book that is overdue.


Laptop Loans

Colchester and Southend

You can borrow a laptop for 3 hours. Late returns will be charged a fine of £1 an hour or part thereof.


You can borrow a laptop for any length of time during the day. Laptops must be returned by library closing time on the day they are borrowed and they cannot be loaned overnight. Late returns will be charged a fine of £1 an hour or part thereof.

Lost/Damaged items

If you lose a library item or damage it, please get in touch with your Library Helpdesk.

We will look at replacing and/or fixing the item, and you will be charged if a replacement item is needed. The cost of the replacement will be based on the item that was lost and/or damaged.


Interlibrary Loans

Renewal fees apply to interlibrary loan requests fulfilled by other libraries. At present, the cost of a renewal is £4.65 for each instance. If you require a renewal for an interlibrary loan, please contact, specifying that you would like a renewal for your loan and supplying the request number.  

Renewals are at the discretion of the lending library and therefore not always possible.

Please note that more substantial fines may apply to damaged or lost books that were obtained through the interlibrary loans service. As these are not our books, we may have to charge for the cost of a replacement copy, as well as any administrative charges we incur as a result of this. If you have damaged or are not able to return a book you received through interlibrary loans, please contact as early as possible to let us know.

Interlibrary loan books that are returned late may also be subject to more substantial fines, where our library has had to pay for a replacement copy.



Printing in the library is free.


Ways to Pay

Students and staff can pay using a debit or credit card online

You can also pay by debit or credit card either by phoning us on 01206 873192 or by visiting our Colchester Library Helpdesk in person.

If you are a Southend student or staff member, non-laptop loan payments need to be made to The Forum

Graduating students with unpaid debts will not be able to attend the graduation ceremony if still in debt on the day of graduation. See here for more information. 

If you have any queries or concerns about any library fines or charges, please contact our library staff who will be able to advise.