Information for visitors

We provide free public access to the Library. You can apply for membership through the University Online Shop. If you have questions about which option might suit you best, please email our membership team at Library services operate on a hybrid remote and onsite basis. Before visiting the Library, be sure to read our Library regulations.

If it is your first visit to the Library, please apply for one of our membership through the University Online Shop before you visit. Once purchased, we will email you when it is ready to collect from our Reception Desk just inside the entrance. You will need to show some form of identification to collect your membership card.


  • There are steps at the main entrance to the Library, which may be unsuitable for some users. A step-free entrance is located at the north end of the building - follow the signs to IDS. 
  • The lift located at the rear of the building can be used to access all floors except the basement. 
  • There is also a lift providing access to the North Basement. 
  • The Reception desk and the Information Hub have been fitted with desk top hearing induction loops and are accessible by wheelchair users. There are wheelchair accessible toilets on each floor.
  • Information on support for Library services 
  • Information on any building works that may affect accessibility on campus.


Membership options and access

  • Membership options for visitors and alumni
    Membership TypesWho is it for?Loan allowanceCharge
    Annual Reference Members of the public not covered by any of the membership categories below No borrowing with this membership FREE
    Schools & Colleges

    Individuals currently in school or attending an FE institution. Applications need to be endorsed by your school or college. You will not be allowed to use the Library until we have received the stamped application. To apply, please complete this form.

    No borrowing with this membership FREE
    Individual External (5) Any individual with no links to an educational establishment. 5 Long Loans and 4 documents
    Individual External (10) Any individual with no links to an educational establishment, who wishes to borrow a larger number of books. 10 Long Loans and 4 documents
    Alumni 10 Long Loan and 4 Documents FREE (Annual Renewal)
    Individual Educational Any individual who has a link with an educational establishment which does not participate in the SCONUL access scheme. 10 Long Loans and 4 Documents
    Corporate 10 Long Loan and 4 Documents
    Reciprocal Membership 5 Long Loans and 4 documents / reference only
  • Membership for partner institutions

    There are several options, depending on how you are studying.

    Students on franchised courses

    If you are a student on a franchised course you will be registered with the University and will have full access to University resources.

    Students on validated programmes

    If you are a student on a validated programme, you are entitled to reference use only. There is no need to apply in advance, but identification (a passport, driving license or University ID card) must be shown. Application forms are held at the Reception Desk.

    You may also apply for external membership at the reduced individual educational rate, entitling you to borrow up to 10 long Loan books and 4 documents at any one time. Access to other collections is restricted and you will not be able to borrow from the Short loan, Core or Audio Visual collections, although you may be able to consult them for reference purposes. Some online resources are available to external members, access to these is only available from within the Library building.

    For further information, including borrowing charges, please see the Membership options for visitors and alumni tab above.

    Staff and tutors teaching on validated programmes

    If you are a member of staff or a tutor teaching on a validated programme you are able to apply for associate membership, entitling you to borrow up to 5 long loan and 4 documents at any one time. There is no charge for this service.

  • Visiting faculty based at Sussex

    Visitors to the University who have been formally invited by Human Resources are entitled to use Library facilities once they have collected their University identification card from the Print Unit.

    Visitors to campus units who have not been formally invited by Human Resources are classified as unofficial visitors. You can apply for external membership, please see the Membership options for visitors tab above for more information. Charges for borrowing should be paid on application or can be charged to the unit issuing the invitation by prior arrangement.  

    E to find out more.

  • Access for part-time/placement students, distance learners, full-time postgraduates and academics at other UK Higher Education institutions

    If you are a part-time or placement student, distance learner, full-time postgraduate or an academic at another UK Higher Education institution you may be eligible to join the University of Sussex Library under the SCONUL Access scheme. Please see the SCONUL website or ask for further information at your home institution.

  • Students attending Access courses in Sussex and Surrey colleges

    Students attending Access courses in Sussex and Surrey colleges may be entitled to join the University of Sussex Library under our reciprocal arrangement. Please contact us for further information.

  • School and college visits

    Individual students

    We are pleased to be able to offer a special Schools & College Library Membership to students studying at local sixth forms and colleges who wish to use our collections to assist with their studies. This Schools & College Membership is a reference only membership which will last for the duration of your studies.

    To apply, please complete the School & College Application to use UoS Library [DOCX 17.59KB].

    You will then need to get this form signed and stamped by your teacher or school librarian. Then please send your completed, signed and stamped form, as well as a photo of yourself (passport style/selfie, to appear on your card) to We will contact you as soon as your library card is ready to collect.


    The Library also welcomes organised visits from groups of students at local schools and colleges wishing to use the Library and its resources for study purposes. We can provide your students with the opportunity to find out more about a university library and the chance to experience university life. We offer tours of the Library and interactive workshops for your students to gain a greater understanding of the skills needed for study at university level.

    Library tours

    An organised tour of the Library for groups of students takes a maximum of 30 minutes and concentrates on the Library building, its range of spaces and how to use an academic library. Supervised students are welcome to stay in the Library and study, but will only have access to material on the open shelves and the public access library catalogue terminals. We prefer to have a maximum of 10 students on a tour.

    Library skills workshop

    We offer workshops which can last for up to an hour. These include quizzes, search skills exercises, interactive presentations and a display of library materials. Our workshops aim to:

    • raise awareness of the types and range of materials found in an academic library
    • improve search and evaluation skills
    • discuss the issues surrounding plagiarism and referencing.

    If you have groups of students doing the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), these workshops will give your students the opportunity to develop their skills and encourage further research.

    Arranging a visit

    Please note that we cannot offer visits during our peak times or during exam periods. For further information and to arrange your visit, please email


Library information

  • Library Service Desk

    Member of Staff sitting at the Library Info Hub

    The Service Desk is located inside the Library, to the left of the entry and exit barriers. The Service Desk operates during staffed hours and staff at the desk will be happy to help, should you require any assistance.

    The desk is the location for collecting interlibrary loans, requesting and collecting theses, accessing binding materials and stationery, and borrowing headphones as well as for general enquiries.

    Self issue machines are located opposite the Service Desk. 

  • Photocopying

    Visitors should go to the Information Hub to enquire about photocopying

  • Finding library material

    You can use Library Search to locate resources. Select a resource to check the availability and location of library stock. There are dedicated computers to search for resources on every floor, two are opposite the Info Hub.

    The Library has three types of collections for print resources; Short, Main and Core, in addition to Audio Visual and document collections. If you have borrowing rights, you will be able to borrow long loan items from the Main collection (see the Membership options for visitors tab above for more information).  Visitors cannot borrow from the Core or Audio Visual collections or Short loan items, but are welcome to browse and photocopy from these collections whilst in the Library.

    If you can't find what you require in the Library, you can place an Interlibrary Request to get the item from another library. This can cost between £10 and £15, so it is worth checking availability in your local public library first.

  • Accessing online databases and journals as a visitor

    Registered external members (including reciprocal borrowers and reference only members) can use many of the Library's online resources as part of a scheme to improve access. This service can only be accessed from within the library.

    What resources can be used?

    We allow access wherever licensing agreements permit us to. Sometimes providers of online resources only allow full members of the University (i.e. staff and students) access. Therefore, we are unable to make these resources available.

    See our list of Online Resources available for visitor access for more detail.

    Where can it be used?

    Within the library there are two dedicated computers available for visitor use. Online resources cannot be accessed by visitors outside of the Library.

    How do I use this service?

    1. Before visiting the Library, check that you are eligible to use this service and that the electronic resource you wish to use is available within this scheme. Please also read through the Library Regulations.
    2. Enquire at the Service Desk about using our 'visitor access' service.
    3. You will need to show your borrower card when you sign up to use the service.
    4. You will also be asked to complete the Visitor Access Sign Up-Sheet held at the Service Desk.
    5. A member of staff will accompany you to one of the visitor access PCs and log you in. 
    6. There are two terminals available for use near the main entrance.
    7. To access, use the Online Resources available for visitor access page.
    8. You will be presented with the list of online resources which are available for use.
    9. You can send information/items to your own web-based email account. To email files to your own account, first save them to the Drive: C:\walkin-temp\ directory on the PC.
    10. Please let staff at the Service Desk know when you are leaving so that we can sign you out.
  • Freely available materials

    The following Library Guide brings together a selection of the Open Access resources and freely available online materials that appear our other guides. These digital resources can be accessed by anyone from anywhere, simply browse the tabs to select the type of material you’re after and click on the title of the resource you’d like to access. Find the guide here.

  • Computer use and Wi-Fi

    Visitors can get free Wi-fi access on campus via 02. You can find out how to connect here.

    Two dedicated 'visitor access' computers provide access to many of our Online Resources. For more information on what Online Resources are available to vistors, please see the Accessing online journals and databases as a visitor tab. 


  • Where to get refreshments

    The Library Cafe, situated just outside of the exit barriers, serves drinks and food. A vending machine and additional seating is also available nearby, where you can consume refreshments that you have brought with you. Hot drinks and bottled water are now allowed into the Library.  Howeveer, food is not allowed past the entry barriers into the Library itself. Please refer to the Library regulations above for more information.

  • Background and history of the Library

    The Library was opened by the Queen in 1964. It was designed by Sir Basil Spence and was one of the first campus buildings to be used. The team, led by Spence, were responsible not only for the building itself but also for the furniture and fittings, including bookshelves, chairs and study spaces. Though protected by Grade II listed status, the Library building has been extended on several occasions since it opened, and recently underwent a substantial £7.4 million refurbishment.

    The University Library holds materials covering a wide range of disciplines reflecting the variety and interdisciplinarity of degree programmes and courses that have been taught at the University since it was established.