Borrowing at the Social Science Library

A student searching for items on a library PC

Who may borrow?

  • Current members of Oxford University with a valid (blue stripe) University card may borrow items from the Social Science Library.
  • Bodleian Reader card holders have reference-only access; they may not borrow items.
  • If you are not a member of the University, find out more about applying to join the Bodleian Libraries.


If you are continuing your studies at Oxford in the next academic year, we can extend your membership of the SSL to continue borrowing books until your new course starts. You must provide:  

  • an official letter to show you have been conditionally accepted on a Master’s course/DPhil; or  
  • an e-mail to the main library account from someone in your department to confirm you have been accepted or conditionally accepted.

We are unable to provide swipe access to the library or remote access to e-resources (other than those available to alumni until you receive your new University card.

What can be borrowed?

  • Most of the books in the SSL can be borrowed.
  • Books with the status ‘Library Use Only’ on SOLO may not be borrowed. The SSL provides at least one ‘Library Use Only' copy, High Demand Collection Copy or e-book of all books on taught course reading lists, so that all students can access them.
  • A book may also be ‘Library Use Only’ if it is rare, damaged, or received under legal deposit.
  • Journals and statistical series may not be borrowed. 
  • Equipment and stationery are also available to borrow and buy.

Book conversion service

If you would like to borrow a ‘Library Use Only’ book, we may be able to convert it to loanable and reserve it for you. Please contact us at with the details of the book you need. Note that this service applies to books on the SSL open shelves only, it may take up to a week to process your request, and books on current reading lists are excluded.

How to borrow

To borrow items, use the self-service machines in front of the Reader PCs or bring them to the library issue desk.

Borrowing allowances

All readers with borrowing privileges can borrow from the following collections:  

  • short loans: 2 days
  • High Demand Collection: 3 hours
  • Issue Desk Reserve Collection: same day (library use only)

We offer extended loan periods and increased borrowing allowances for readers with disabilities


Reader type Items Standard loans Working papers  Pamphlets
Undergraduates and taught postgraduates 30 7 days 2 days 7 days
Research postgraduates and academic staff 40 28 days 28 days 28 days
Oxford University and college staff 10 7 days 2 days 7 days

Vacation loans

Vacation loans begin on Sunday of 8th Week. All vacation loans are due back on Tuesday of 1st Week the following term. Journals, statistical series and ‘Library Use Only’ books may not be borrowed. High Demand Collection books operate on the same loan period all year round.

Renewals and returns

  • You will receive an email reminder informing you that your books are due back. Reminders are sent the day before the due date. You must renew books before midnight on the due date.
  • You can renew items you have out on loan or items from closed stacks that you are consulting in a reading room via SOLO.  
  • You can renew loans from the SSL 7 times (max). After this, items must be returned to the library to be re-issued.  
  • Books from the High Demand Collection may not be renewed. They may be re-issued from the Issue Desk if they have not been reserved by other readers.  
  • You may also renew books in person or by telephoning the library; however, we do not accept renewal requests via email.
  • You can return items to the issue desk, or to the book returns boxes in the library entrance hall. When the library is closed, a book returns box is available in the foyer of the Manor Road Building.


If you have lost a book borrowed from the SSL, please search carefully for the book. If the book is not found, we send you an invoice for a replacement after 21 days for normal loans or 14 days for short loans. The charge for a lost book is the book’s purchase price plus a £5 administrative charge.  If the book is out of print, the library will charge you a flat rate of £35 (which includes the £5 administrative charge). Please use our online store page to pay the replacement fee.

Alternatively, you can provide a replacement copy. A £5 administrative charge will still apply. The replacement copy must be the latest edition and be in good condition. It should preferably be the same format (hardback or paperback) as the copy you lost and not an ex-library copy. If the library is not satisfied with the replacement copy supplied, you will be required to either pay the invoice or provide another replacement copy. We can only accept payment for lost books belonging to the SSL.

Please note that if you subsequently find the book, we are unable to refund the charges, as a replacement copy will have been ordered/added to stock. If you fail to replace or pay for a lost book upon receipt of the invoice, the library will contact your College Dean or Departmental Administrator.