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UCT Libraries' Services

Borrowing Information

Frequently-Asked Questions

Borrowing | Renewing | Returning | Requests | My Library Card | Vacation Loans | Fines


How do I borrow a book?

Loans DeskYour student card, staff card, or third party card is also your library card - you use it to borrow materials from the Libraries.

To borrow a book, just take it to the Loans Desk together with your card and the Loans Desk staff will issue it to you. The date sheet will be stamped with the date by which you must return the book.

How many books may I borrow at a time?

Undergraduates may borrow 6 items (books, DVDs, CDs) at a time.
Postgraduates may borrow 12 items (books, DVDs, CDs) at a time.
Staff members may borrow 30 items (books, DVDs, CDs) at a time.

How long is the loan period - and can I renew the loan?

Undergraduates: Books are issued to you for 7 days, and you may renew your loans three times.
Postgraduates: Books are issued to you for 35 days, and you may renew your loans three times.
Staff: Books are issued to you for 90 days, and you may renew your loans once.

CDs and DVDs are issued for 3 days, and are not renewable.

Can journals be borrowed?

Postgraduate students and staff members may borrow 6 bound journals for 3 days, in addition to the items listed above.
Journal loans may not be renewed.

What if the book I need is already out on loan to someone else?

You can place a request for the book. When you do this, the Loans Desk staff will recall the book from the person who has it out and reserve the book for you. For more information, see Requests below.

Renewing loans:

How do I renew my books?

There are 3 ways to renew your books: in person, by phone, or online.

To renew your books in person, just take them to the Loans Desk and ask for a renewal. (Have your card handy.)
To renew by phone: contact the Loans Desk at 021 650-3118 or 021 650-3120. (Have your student/staff number handy.)
To renew your books online by logging in to My Library Card.

How many times can I renew my loans?

UCT students may renew their books three times, while staff members (who enjoy a longer loan period) may renew their books once.
DVDs and CDs may not be renewed.
Journals may not be renewed.
Books that have been requested by another library user may not be renewed.

Returning materials:

Where do I return books?

To return books or journals to the main Library, just put them in the returns hatch which is located at the end of the Loans Desk, or hand them to an assistant on duty at the Desk.

  • CDs and DVDs must be handed in at the Loans Desk. Please do not put them in the returns hatch.

  • Please remember to return all short loan materials to the Short Loans Centre.

I wanted to return my books, but the Library was closed. What should I have done?

There is an overnight returns hatch situated outside the Main Library where users can return library materials when the Library is closed. The returns box is at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the main entrance to the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library. The returns hatch is open when the library is closed and closed when the library is open.

Requesting books:

The book I need is out on loan ... can I request it?

If the book you need is out on loan, you can make an online request for it in the catalogue, ALEPH, or you can ask a member of the Loans Desk staff to do this for you.

How long will it take to get the book?

When you request a book, the book will be recalled from the person who has it out on loan. That person will be given a maximum of 7 days in which to return the book.

How will I know when the book is back in the Library?

As soon as the book is returned, you will be sent an email telling you that the book is waiting for you to collect.

What if I need the book really urgently and cannot wait for 7 days?

Ask at the Loans Desk. Our staff will do everything they can to retrieve the item as quickly as possible.

How many requests can I make at a time?

The maximum number of online requests you can make is four.

TipIf you need to request more than this, the Loans Desk staff will override the ALEPH rule and reserve the book for you.

According to ALEPH the book I need is "On Shelf" ... but I can't find it. Should I request it?

If you cannot find what you are looking for on the shelf, please ask at the Loans Desk. The system will not allow you to request a book that is listed as being "On Shelf" ... but the Loans Desk staff can override this rule, and request the book for you. They will then carry out a systematic search for the book and let you know when it is available for you to borrow.

The book I need is in a Branch Library on another UCT campus ... can I request it?

If you need a book from another branch of the library, please ask our Loans Desk staff to arrange to get the book on Branch Loan. The book will then be sent to the library you normally use, and made available for you to borrow.

I have placed a request for a book, but I don't need the book any more. How do I cancel the request?

You can cancel book requests in My Library Card.
Open ALEPH (the library catalogue) and sign in to My Library Card (See the section below this for more about My Library Card.)

  1. Click on your Hold Requests to see a list of the books that you have requested.
  2. Click on the number next to the request you want to cancel.
  3. Click on Delete.

My Library Card :

I can't remember what books I have out ... how can I find out?

You can look up this information in My Library Card which is your personal space in the library catalogue, ALEPH.

In My Library Card, you can:

  • see what you have out on loan (Loans);

  • see what books you have borrowed previously (Loan History List);

  • see what material you have requested (Hold Requests);

  • check to see if you have outstanding fines (Cash Transactions);

  • cancel hold requests;

  • renew your books.

How do I access My Library Card?

  1. Open ALEPH, the Libraries' catalogue
  2. Click on My Library Card in the top menu bar:
  3. When asked to identify yourself, log in using your student or staff number and your password:
  4. Your default password is your DATE OF BIRTH in the format: YYYYMMDD

PASSWORD NOT WORKING? If you are unable to log in using your date of birth as your password, try using your student/staff number as your password. If this doesn't work either, then please contact the Loans Desk staff and ask them to reset your ALEPH password.

Once in My Library Card, you will see the activities available to you (view your loans, your previous loan history, your requests, and your fines), as well as your personal details on the system. To see a list of the books you have out, click on Loans. To see a list of the books you have taken out previously, click on Loan History List.

How do I renew my books in My Library Card?

See How to renew your books online above.

Vacation Loans:

May I take out books over the long vacations?

Registered UCT postgraduate students and UCT staff may borrow books for extended loan periods over the long mid-year and year-end vacations. The Loans Desk staff will issue books to you for the duration of the vacation, with the proviso that the Library can recall a book at any time.

If someone else requests a book that you have out on vacation loan, the Library will recall the book and you must then return the book at once, even if that means using a commercial courier.


What happens if I return my books after the due date?

To ensure that library materials are equally available to all library users, please make sure that your books are returned on, or before, the due date. Late returns will incur a fine of R2.00 per day.

If you are late returning a book that the library has recalled (because it has been requested by another borrower), a fine will also be charged.

But what if I simply forget that my books are due?

You will receive a "courtesy notice", by email, three days before your books are due to be returned, reminding you of the due date, and informing you that a fine will accrue should your books not be returned in time.

I have been "blocked" from taking books out of the library ... why?

If you owe a fine of R50.00 or more, the system will automatically block you from borrowing further material until the fine is paid.

What is the maximum I might have to pay in fines?

Fines accrue to a maximum of R100 per item.

What should I do if I lose a library book?

Go to the Loans Desk and inform the staff. Lost library materials must be paid for by the borrower who has lost them, and an additional handling charge of R250 (to cover the costs of reordering, cataloguing, and processing) will be payable per item.