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Getting Started Guide: Getting Started


Welcome to your Library at Essex. We are here to support you in your studies by providing the resources you need, study environments to suit you, and expert help and support.

If you’re new to using the Library and want an introduction to our services, this page will be your guide! Check out the video below for a brief introduction to some of our services and support.

You can find an extended Introduction to the Library video here.

For an interactive introduction to the library, why not have a go at our tutorial introducing the online library services? If you're on campus, here are our self-guided inductions to the Albert Sloman Library in Colchester and The Forum in Southend

Useful Links

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These pages and how-to videos will help you quickly find the resources you need and make the most of what the Library has to offer.

The Basics

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Self-guided Inductions

If you're based at our Colchester campus, have a go at our self-guided tour to help you navigate around our physical Library space, and get familiar with our online Library. This can be completed within the Library building itself, or at home.

If you're based at our Southend campus, take a look at our self-directed tour to set up your library PIN number, learn how to find a book in the library, and more!

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Your Library

If you are a current student and have completed your university registration, you are already signed up and can use the library, both in person and online.

Library card

Your university ID card is your library card. You will need it to borrow items, and to enter the library at certain times.

Login details

Your University username (e.g. and password are used to log into the library website and computers in the Library.

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Request a Resource

Need to access a book the Library doesn't have either online or in print? Use our Request a Resource service, and we'll get an online copy, or you can arrange to have it sent to you from another library.

Want to get a copy of a book chapter or journal article that the Library doesn't have online but is in the physical collection? Request it via Scan & Deliver and we will email it to you.

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.

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Seat and Space Bookings

Colchester and Loughton library have a range of study spaces to suit your needs, including bookable individual study pods. See our FAQ on how you can book an Individual Study Pod at Colchester and Loughton.

Southend has a variety of study spaces on the 2nd floor of The Forum building in the Learning Hub. 

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Skills at Library

Skills at Library covers a range of tools and resources designed to support students and researchers in their academic careers. This includes help with: discovering information, search strategies, fact checking sources, and referencing. Click the Workshops at Library tab to view our open programme of open workshops.

Your Library

A student borrowing library books via the self-service book machine.

How to borrow an item

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

Southend - Readings for modules are available online. Print books may be requested via The Southend City Council website. You can also borrow books using the self service machines or the front desk on the ground floor during opening hours. 

Loughton - We have a large selection of print books in the library, and all of the essential readings for modules are available online. Print books can be borrowed using our self service machine, or at the helpdesk when staffed.

A shelving trolley filled with library books, ready to be shelved.

How many items can I borrow?

Colchester -  You can borrow an unlimited number of items.

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

Loughton - You can borrow an unlimited number of items.

A student talking to two members of library staff at the library helpdesk.

How long can I borrow an item for?

Colchester - All books are 7 day loans 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 7 days to return.

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 on autorenewals at Southend click hereSouthend 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 - All books are 7 day loans 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 7 days to return.

The book return machine at the Albert Sloman Library. Return books one at a time by placing them in the letterbox.

How to return an item

Colchester - You can return items using the self service book return, located on the ground floor, and the external book return (opposite Silberrad Student Centre). If you can't get to the library physically, you can send items 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 by using the self service machine, or taking them to the helpdesk where staff can return them for you. When we are closed, you can also use the drop box outside the entrance. Items will then be taken off your account by staff.

Getting Started

The easiest way to access the resources you will need is through your reading list. You can find your reading lists for all modules through the Moodle page for your module, or by visiting the Reading Lists homepage.

All of your essential reading material should be available for you to access online.

If you can't find your reading list here or you are struggling to access your reading materials, please talk to your lecturer and contact us.

You can also find help with your reading lists on our reading list guide.

To get started with navigating a reading list, why not check out our Getting Started Reading List at the bottom of this page?

Once you’ve found your reading list, you can use the Library search on the Library's homepage to find other online resources to support your studies. There are four tabs on the Library search, as shown in the image below.

Screenshot of the library catalogue.

Search Library

You can search for articles, journals, and databases using the Library search.

Southend Books

This searches the catalogue of books at our Southend campus library, The Forum. Use this tab if you're based at Southend and are looking for a book on the shelves.

DOI Search

This is used to search for specific journal articles using their DOI - or digital object identifier. This is a unique identifier assigned to all journal articles, and if you know it then this can help you locate exactly what you're looking for!

Journal Search

This allows you to search for online journals. To find out what a journal is, take a look at our search skills guide.

Check out your Subject Guide: a subject-specific bank of resources and guidance put together by our team of Academic Liaison Librarians, including our Southend Campus Librarian!

Your Academic Liaison Librarian provides subject-specific support and guidance in a range of areas, from recommending and evaluating resources, to search skills and referencing. The below image shows an example of one of our subject guides. Why not have a look at yours now?

A screenshot showing an example of a Subject Guide

Health and Safety

  • Any students who may need help evacuating the building need to let Security know that they are there
  • Exit routes should not be blocked by furniture being moved
  • Students should not sleep in the library/learning hub
  • Overnight access to The Forum (Southend) is for the 1st floor and the learning hub on the second floor.

Fire Safety

The consequences of a fire could potentially be very serious. For this reason we have high standards of fire protection in our buildings. For them to be effective, we all need to be vigilant and follow our fire safety procedures and know what to do in the event of a fire.

If you discover a fire

1. Sound the alarm from the manual call point nearest to you (or on your way to the exit).

2. Do not attempt to tackle a fire.

3. Leave the area immediately.

4. If safe to do so close fire doors behind you.

5. Evacuate the area/building immediately and you should not remain on the landings.

Rules & etiquette

  • The library is a shared space where we are in learning community with one another.
  • Respect other users: find the right zone for you and then observe the relevant noise level and behaviour rules for that area.
  • Respect the environment: help keep the library clean and tidy by using the bins provided, including mixed recycling bins.
  • Respect the staff: we're here for you and want to do everything we can to support your learning journey.
  • Respect the books: library resources are there for everyone, so avoid marking books with highlighter or pencil and turning down pages.
  • Switch your personal devices to silent and use the appropriate places (e.g. landings or stairwells) to make phone calls.
  • No smoking or vaping in the library, or within 2 metre of entrances or open windows.
  • No sleeping in the library.

Food and drink


The library allows hot and cold drinks throughout the building, and cold food in some areas. Hot or strong smelling food is not allowed. You may be asked to leave and consume your food elsewhere. Alcohol is prohibited.


Hot and cold drinks and food are permitted in the Learning Hub. 


The library allows hot and cold drinks in bottles or lidded cups. Cold food is allowed as long as it is not smelly or noisy, and must be consumed away from IT lab desktops. Hot or strong smelling food is not allowed. You may be asked to leave and consume your food elsewhere. Alcohol is prohibited.

Asking for help from home

You can get help online in a number of ways:

You can chat to us via our library homepage. You can start a chat by clicking on our live chat button on the bottom right of our library home page.

You can look at our Help page and search by keyword and subject.

You can also email us at

Or you can call us - 01206 873192. If we’re not available to answer the call, leave a message and we will get back to you within 1 working day.

Asking for help in the library

You can ask any member of staff within the library for assistance - if we are unable to provide what you need, we will be able to find someone who can.

The helpdesk will always have someone there to help you during opening hours with your questions.

Loughton - the helpdesk is generally staffed during opening hours Monday to Saturday. Please note that staffed hours may vary during holiday times and/or when staff is in training. For updated information please check our opening hours.

Southend - University of Essex library staff are based at TF.2.03, The Info Point on the 2nd Floor of The Forum.

Finding information on your subject

You can use the website to read through your subject guide, a one stop tour of help and resources for your studies.

You can also book a one-to-one session with a member of our Academic & Research Services team for personalised help with your studies using the Book A Librarian page.

You can also look at the databases page to see all of the subject specific resources we subscribe to.

Search skills tips and advice

For help and interactive tutorials on searching for resources, referencing, evaluating resources, and more, take a look at our skills guides.

For information on our upcoming workshops and events, head to our events page.

Support for disabled students

Your library is dedicated to helping you in your studies and want to support your needs. If you need specific help, please let us know and we will look into what we can do to help.

You can read about the support we currently give on our Accessibility page.

Library Computers

There are computers available throughout each library. You can log into them with your university email (e.g. and password.


You can log into the 'eduroam' network using your email address (e.g. and password from anywhere in the library.

Further information can be found on the IT Helpdesk eduroam information page. If you have any problems connecting, please ask at the IT helpdesk.

Laptop loans

Each campus has a collection of laptops for loan.

To borrow a laptop, you need your student card. You can borrow a laptop for either 6 or 3 hours at a time. In Loughton laptops can be borrowed up until library closing time.

For full details, see our Laptop Loans page.

Saving work

All computers/laptops in the library have storage options.

Each device has USB drives which you can use to connect a memory stick.

You have up to 1GB of storage on your M: drive which you can access from any university PC.

The university also has a subscription to Box and OneDrive, which are forms of cloud storage that allow access from anywhere you have an internet connection.

MFDs (Printing and Photocopying)

The library has MFDs (Multi-Functional Devices) which allow you to print, scan and photocopy.

You can use these devices to:

  • Print documents from a device and memory stick
  • Photocopy up to A3 sized paper
  • Scan to email and memory stick.

Please ask a member of staff if you want any help with printing or using the MFDs.


As a student at the university, you will have your own email and password.

You can use these login details to access your library account and e-resources.

You can reset your password online, and get further help via the IT Helpdesk. 

Logging into e-mail

You can use Microsoft Outlook to access your e-mails on any university device, or access webmail via

To access your e-mails, you will need your e-mail address ( and your password.

Forwarding e-mail to another account

The Student Email Forwarding page has instructions on how to forward your student email to a personal account.

Accessing e-mail from a smart phone or tablet

You can download Microsoft Outlook on your device to access your e-mails, or you can access webmail via

Printing in the Library

All of our libraries have printers.

Loughton – printing and photocopying is available in the library or by using the mobile printing service. An alternative printer is located on the first floor in Hatfield House.

If a printer is out of paper or has an issue, please get in touch with the Library Helpdesk, and we will sort the issue.

Printing on Campus

There is no cost for printing on campus, it is free. However, there is a cap to the number of pages that can be printed out. For more information check the IT Services' Printing page.

Please do consider what you are printing to be paper conscious and help our planet.

Further IT help

For more information, you can look at the IT Services page.

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 30p per day fine on each book that is overdue up to a maximum of £12.00 per item. For long-overdue items the council may charge an additional administrative fee of £3.50


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, which will include an administrative fee. The cost of the replacement will be based on the item that was lost and/or damaged.

Lost items that are returned which are in a suitable condition to go back onto shelves will be refunded, minus an administrative fee. 


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, and managed by IT Services. All students receive £10 of virtual credit at the start of each academic year. This is not real money, just a virtual balance. Visit the IT Services page to find out how printing balances work. 


Ways to Pay

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

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. 


Your Library Reading List

To get started with navigating a reading list, why not check out our Getting Started Reading List  below:

Social Media

You can follow the library via our social media channels, for up to date information on our services and events.

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