Library Services


Self-service @ UCL

During summer 2015, the number of UCL libraries offering self-service issue and return facilities using Radio-Frequency technology expanded.

Self-service machine in use 2

The expansion included the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library; the Joint Library of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital & UCL Institute of Ophthalmology; the Royal Free Hospital Medical Library; the UCL School of Pharmacy Library and the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library (SSEES).

" Great to have the self service desks!
" So easy to use…cool…awesome!

This rollout followed the successful launch of RFID technology at libraries located near the central Bloomsbury UCL campus in 2014, and as a consequence, self-service facilities are now available in the majority of our family of libraries.

This is part of our ongoing commitment to support extended opening hours across many of our sites. Indeed at libraries with 24-hours access such as the Main Library, the Science Library, the SSEES Library and the Cruciform Hub, the introduction of this technology has enabled readers to borrow and return material whenever the buildings are open.

Self-service facilities also allow for a much faster and more efficient way of borrowing and returning books. Not only does it mean less queueing to be served at the desk, but it also frees up Library staff time from routine transactions so they can answer your queries and provide the front-line help where it is most needed.

Following the successful launch of these services across the majority of UCL libraries over the last two years, we are now committed to making this technology universally available across our entire family of libraries and will therefore be introducing RFID technology at the following sites:

  • the UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries
  • the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, Queen Square Library
  • the UCL Institute of Orthopaedics Library
  • the UCL Institute of Education Library

When will I be able to use self-service?

Self-service in these libraries will be in place by the start of the 2016/17 academic session.

Further details on the installation schedule and likely service disruptions will be available on each library's individual RFID page. Please look out for further updates in the coming weeks.

RFID details by library

UCL Ear Institute & Hearing Loss Libraries

UCL Ear Institute pre-RFID

Self-service borrowing at the UCL Ear Institute Library

UCL Library Services is committed to improving the experience of library users across all of our library sites.  

In support of this aim, following the success of the provision of self-service equipment at other libraries, a self-service book issue and return terminal will be installed at the UCL Ear Institute Library in July 2016. 

The terminal will be available, whilst the library is open, to facilitate the circulation and renewal of books at the UCL Ear Institute Library for UCL staff and students.

UCL Institute of Education

Self-service borrowing at the UCL Institute of Education Library

IOE Library pre-RFID

The UCL Institute of Education Newsam Library and Archives is part of phase 3 of the self-service rollout in UCL libraries.

The project involves the implementation of RFID technology on our existing self-service provision. This technology will help to speed up the issue and return process on our existing self-service machines: users will be able to present a stack of books at one time instead on individually.

Library staff will be undertaking the majority of the work (you may already have seen us up on level 5 removing books from shelves). We will keep the disruption to a minimum.

Completion of the project is set for Summer 2016.

Update (18/04/2016)

The conversion of stock on Level 5 is now complete. We will be starting the conversion of stock on Level 3 on Monday 25th April 2016. The conversion will take approximately 1 week to complete.

We aim to keep any potential disruption on this floor to a minimum. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Self-service borrowing at the UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square Library - July 2016

UCL Institute of Neurology RFID

We're delighted to announce that our RFID installation has been successfully completed, and our self-service machine is already much appreciated by our users.

The installation of the RFID self-service system for book loans, renewals and returns, was part of phase three of the self-service roll out in UCL Libraries, and will help to ensure consistency of service for our borrowers who work across UCL Library sites.

UCL Institute of Orthopaedics

Self-service borrowing at the UCL Institute of Orthopaedics Library - July 2016

UCL Orthopaedics RFID

Self service for book loans at the Institute of Orthopaedics Library on the Stanmore campus went live in early July. 

This enhancement in services enables library users to issue and return books at their convenience throughout library opening hours.

The self service kiosk is located just inside the library entrance.

Library staff are still on hand at the nearby Information Desk to offer assistance.

Self-service FAQs

Can I return books to the machines which are overdue or are requested?

Yes. (With the exception of Inter Library Loans and reference material).

Can I return books from other libraries to the machines?

No. Please return books to the library from which you borrowed them. Short Loan items (3 hours and two-days) must be returned to either the Short Loan collection machines in those libraries which have them, or to the service desk.

Can I renew books at the self-service machines?

Yes. As long as you do not have an overdue recalled book.

Can I pay my fines at a self-service machine?

Payment will need to be taken by a member of staff in person or by telephone.

Is there a desk I can return books to?

There will still be service points in all libraries and there will be staff to help with using self-service. Some materials at some sites will still be issued and returned across Service Desks, e.g. Stores materials and Inter Library Loans.

If I am not sure how to use the machine what do I do?

A member of staff will be happy to show you how to use the Self Service and Returns machines.

Why do I need a PIN?

Your PIN is a security measure needed for borrowing books from self service machines and also for logging on to your account online (for renewing books etc).

Will I get a receipt when I borrow and return books?

Yes, there will be the option to receive a receipt. We recommend you keep these for your own records.

If a machine is not working what do I do?

There will be library staff nearby who can help.

Is self-service available 24-hours?

Self-service will be available at all times when a Library is open. 24hr opening currently operates in the Main, Science, Cruciform and SSEES libraries.

Full list of library opening hours.

Contact us

For more information on RFID and Self-service in the library, or if you would like to comment, please email us at library@ucl.ac.uk

Look out for updates on this web page, or follow UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries;  UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square Library; UCL Institute of Orthopaedics Library and UCL Institute of Education Library on Twitter or Facebook. 

Also be aware that RFID posters in these libraries will also indicate potential future service disruption.