Using the Library

The Somerville Library is open to members of the College with an access card 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except during the Christmas-New Year holiday.

Members of Oxford University may consult items in the library by prior arrangement if not otherwise available from one of the Bodleian or Faculty Libraries. Members of the Somerville Association may consult items in the library during staffed hours by appointment.

Find a book

To see if Somerville has a copy of your book, use the university’s online catalogue SOLO. Use the “Find and Request” link to see if it’s held at Somerville. If it is, click on the + sign to see availability and make a note of the shelfmark. For further help, see SOLO LibGuide

Use the shelfmark to find your book in the Library itself. (Note that books listed as ‘Closed Stack’, ‘Loft’ and ‘Ask Staff’ must be requested from a member of staff.) Shelfmarks have two elements e.g. 938.82 11. The first number (938.82) indicates the section of the Library, while the second number (11) indicates the precise location within that section. See the Library locations by classmark  for a list of sections. There is a map at the front of the library giving location by shelfmark and subject.

If you can’t find a book, check that it is listed as ‘available’ on SOLO, check the desks and tables in the Library (in case someone has taken it off the shelf), check the trolleys (in case it’s due to be reshelved), or consult a member of Library staff at the front desk, by filling in a ‘Missing Book’ form or by emailing us the details.

Take a book out

Only current members of Somerville College may borrow books and all books must be checked out before being removed from the library. Checking out is done at the self-issue computer (next to the main Library doors). Scan (or type in) the barcode of your University card (not College card), scan the barcode of the book, and don’t forget to click on ‘Finish’. (If you forget your card, just type in your name and follow the instructions.) Loan deadlines are usually the end of the term or vacation during which the book is taken out. There is no limit on the number of books you may borrow.

Borrow a book already on loan

Since loan periods are long, we operate a recall system whereby you can apply for a book to be returned at an earlier due date so that you can then borrow the book yourself. You can make this request using a recall form or by emailing us the details. The Library staff will then contact the existing borrower and request that the book is returned, usually within three days – a heavy fine is then imposed if it is not returned as requested.

Renew a book

Connect to SOLO and sign in via ‘Oxford Single Sign On’. Choose ‘My Account’ (top-right), click on the tick-box to the left of the title(s) you want to renew, and then click ‘Renew Selected’ at the top-left of the books list. Please note that you cannot renew an overdue book. If you have a loan listed on your account but have returned the book (and checked the Library shelves, Returns box – and your room!), then please let the Library staff know.

Return a book

If you have taken a book out or simply used it in the Library, please place it in the ‘Returns’ box beside the main Library doors when you have finished with it.

Recommend a book

If we don’t have the book you want (or don’t have enough copies), why not recommend a title? You can fill in a request form or send us an email. (Sadly, we can’t promise to purchase all recommended titles.) If it’s urgent, we can often obtain it within a day or two. You may also like to follow our New Books Blog.

Borrow a DVD

The library has a small DVD collection. You can view the selection online at Somerville Library’s DVDs. The cases are shelved in the entrance loggia, where they may be browsed, but the discs can only be borrowed during staffed hours. During term time the loan period is seven days (with a £1 fine for lateness).
Please note that for licensing reasons DVDs are to be used for educational purposes only and may not be shown for public entertainment.


The Library has several computers available for academic use only. Printing (colour and b&w), photocopying and scanning are all available on the laser printer in the Library loggia – printing and copying will be charged to your battels. There are power sockets and wifi access for laptops throughout the library.

Group Study Room Booking

The Ruth Thompson Room on the ground floor is available for students to book for group study. Please use your Nexus email to send a new Meeting Request to Bookings of up to two hours are available between 9am and 9pm. There is a limit of two bookings per group per day.

A group should contain a maximum of five people and the room will only be held for 15 minutes after the beginning of the booking period. Tutorials may not be held in the room. The rules on food and drink are the same as those for elsewhere in the Library. Please keep noise to a reasonable level and leave the room tidy and fully vacated.

Assistive equipment

We have the following available to borrow and use in the library: a laptop stand; a book stand; a desktop magnifying lens; an LED desk lamp with adjustable brightness. We also have a standing desk at the west end of the upper library, a portable desktop standing desk (which can be borrowed from staff at the library service desk), and an electric height adjustable desk in the Ruth Thompson Room (which you can book as detailed above).


The Library is managed by the Library Committee, which includes representatives from the JCR and MCR. The Committee reports via Education Committee to the College’s Governing Body. If you wish to use the Somerville College Library, please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the Library Rules.