Borrowing at the VHL

A row of individual desks with a student sitting at each one

There will be ongoing works at the VHL from 11 – 14 December, and the library will be closed all day on Friday 15 December. Find out more in our blogpost.

Who may borrow?

Most readers will have reference-only access to the Vere Harmsworth Library and will not be able to borrow.  

Borrowing privileges are available to:  

  • Rothermere American Institute Fellows, faculty and graduates (DPhils and the MSt in US History or English & American Studies) in US Studies (Politics, English, History)
  • DPhil students working on American topics in other departments (if supported by a supervisor’s request).

Please contact the VHL Librarian if you wish to apply to borrow. You will need to bring your University card with you to borrow items.

What can be borrowed?

Books on the open shelves can be borrowed if they were not received by the library under legal deposit. You can check this by looking at the Bodleian Library stamp on the back of the title page. If the book has a ‘C’ (for copyright) in it, it cannot be borrowed. Items with ‘P’ (purchased), ‘D’ (donation) or ‘E’ (exchange) can be borrowed.  

Some older material does not follow this system: in this case, anything published in the UK will be assumed to be legal deposit and restricted. VHL library staff will check books at the desk before checking them out for you.

Periodicals, microforms, reference books, material from the stack (pre-1920) or material you have requested for delivery to the VHL from the Bodleian or elsewhere may also not be borrowed. 

Loans, renewals and returns

Our borrowing policy applies across all Bodleian Libraries that offer lending, including the VHL. Find out more about borrowing from the Bodleian Libraries, including how many items you can borrow, loan periods and automatic renewals. 

  • If eligible for borrowing, you may borrow items for two days at a time.  
  • We do not offer vacation loans.  
  • You will be sent an automated email reminder on the day before an item is due to be returned.
  • Books can be renewed as often as you wish, unless the book has been reserved by another reader. You can renew items in person, by phone (01865 82700), by email ( or online via SOLO.
  • If you wish to consult a book that is out on loan, you can reserve it online via SOLO, or ask staff to reserve it for you. This will prevent the book being renewed again. Reserved books will be kept at the desk for two days once they are returned to the library, and you will be sent a notification that it is ready to collect. After two days it will be re-shelved or passed on to any subsequent reservations.