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  • Circulation Desk
    © Bielefeld University Library

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Borrowing, Renewal, Reserving

The printed collections are arranged (systematically) according to subject areas and are generally freely accessible in the departmental libraries. In addition to printed books, you will also find numerous electronic media (e-books, e-journals). Current journal issues, new acquisitions, textbooks or data carriers (CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays etc.) are located in separate locations.

After logging in to your loan account, you can access your borrowed media and renewal options via the navigation item "Checked out items" in the right margin.

Here you have two options to renew your media.

  • You can check the checkbox in front of an item and click on the button "Renew Selected Items"
  • You select the button "Renew All Items"

As soon as one of your media cannot be renewed, you will receive the general note directly at the top of the display: "Some of your media cannot be extended because the total loan period has been reached or there are reservations".

You will find out which media cannot be renewed and for what reason after you have renewed or attempted to renew the media, at the individual item itself.

If a reservation has been made for your item, you will see the message "This item cannot be renewed because it has been reserved".

If the maximum lending period has been reached for your item, you will see the message "The lending period could not be extended".

For each item you will find the "Loan Date". This is the day when you borrowed the item for the first time. Below that you will find the "Due Date". This allows you to calculate independently whether the total loan period for this item is about to expire.

The total loan periods are:

  • Loan period 30 days - Total loan period 180 days
  • Loan period 15 days - total loan period 85 days

You can only place a hold once all the copies available to you have been borrowed. When all available copies of a work have been borrowed, you simply place a reservation and receive the first returned copy. It is no longer possible to reserve multiple copies of the same work.

No. If a book is available in the library, you can take it from the shelf and borrow it from the lending terminals or the self-service units. A reservation is not possible.

If you happen to lose or damage a borrowed library item, you are obliged to pay compensation.

In case of loss, please contact the Service Desk in the Library Service Center or use the provided notice of loss form (in German only).

In case of damage, please present the respective item to the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

Login to Your Loan Account

For the login you need a UniCard (Where and how do I get a card?). Students and employees of Bielefeld University use the BITS user name or the UniID and the web password for registration. External users use the UniID and the web password for registration. Please follow the instructions from BITS.

You use the web authentication with Shibboleth in the loan account, when ordering books or articles via Interlibrary Loan, when reserving media in the! and for many other university services, e.g. the electronic course catalogue (eKVV).

My Data

You can only maintain your personal data in the PRISMA portal. This is not possible in the loan account. In the PRISMA portal, you can change the desired e-mail address for communication with the library. To do this, after logging in to the PRISMA portal, click on "Kontenübersicht" ("Account overview"), then on the + at "Bibliotheksausweis" ("Library card") and enter the desired e-mail address under "Kontakt E-Mail-Adresse (Bibliothek)". Change the web password that you need for the registration in the loan account by clicking on "Passwörter ändern" ("Change passwords"). Check "Web (Shibboleth)" or click on "Alle wählen" ("Select all") to use the same password in all services and click on "Passwort setzen" ("Set password"). The new password must comply with the password guideline (12 - 20 characters, no umlauts). See also the information from BITS on changing the password. For students and employees of Bielefeld University, the web password is also used for other services (e.g. the eKVV).

If you do not know or have forgotten your password for the PRISMA portal, click on the link "Set new password" on the login page in the PRISMA portal. External users can also contact the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

You can change the web password in the PRISMA portal.

Further information: Change your password in PRISMA.

Fees and Charges

General information can be found on our Fees and Charges website.

The loan account is automatically blocked when open charges of 50 EUR or more have been incurred. Borrowing is then no longer possible. Media that have already been borrowed can be renewed within the applicable loan periods. As soon as the fees have been paid in full or in part and the total of outstanding fees falls below 50 EUR again, the account is automatically unlocked.

The maximum loan period is no longer determined by the number of possible renewals, but there is a total loan period measured by calendar days. Within this period, renewals are possible as long as the item is not reserved elsewhere. Each renewal extends the loan period by an additional 30 or 15 days, but not beyond the total loan period. Therefore, always pay attention to the new return date when renewals are made so that no fees are incurred.

Overdue fees, interlibrary loan orders and postage can be paid in cash in the Service Desk in the Library Service Center or transferred to the following account:

Universität Bielefeld
Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen
IBAN: DE 46 3005 0000 0000 061036
Please indicate on the remittance slip as intended purpose (Verwendungszweck): 12100301 and the Uni-ID of your library or student card (UniCard)

Your loan account will be discharged immediately, when you pay in cash at the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

Please raise any objections against overdue fees promptly. In case there are objections on your part, keep the receipts you got concerning loan period, renewals, and date of return as a legal proof.
If there are objections, send a written motion for the remission of the fine, explaining your reasons and enclosing appropriate record, to:

By mail:
Direktion der Universitätsbibliothek Bielefeld
Postfach 10 02 91
33502 Bielefeld

By email:
In this case you may hand in appropriate record later.

E-mail notifications

You will usually receive an email from the University Library Circulation System at the beginning of the month notifying you of your current borrowings (maximum of 100 items can be displayed), any overdue items and/or fees. Overdue items should be renewed if possible or returned as soon as possible to avoid fees. In addition, you will receive pick-up notices for reservations and interlibrary loan orders, reminders and overdue notices from the circulation system by e-mail.

It can happen that the return of your media and the sending of the e-mail overlap, which means that the media you returned on the day the e-mail was sent are still listed. Check your circulation account to see if the items are still there. If they are not, consider the information in the email to be invalid.

Check your circulation account for information on outstanding charges. Charges that originated prior to the migration to the new library system generally have an origination date of 04/25/2021. If you have questions about this, please contact the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

You will be informed by e-mail as soon as a medium you have borrowed has been marked by other users and the medium is recalled for this reason. In the e-mail, under "New due date", you will find the date by which you must return the medium at the latest. In most cases this is the last valid end of the loan period and only in exceptional cases the end of the loan period is brought forward. You can also check the end of the loan period in your loan account at any time. In case of a recall, the extension of the loan period is no longer possible.

Literature Searching

Search tips for search engines, subject databases, library catalogues and other search services can be found in our General Search Tips. Information on searching in the library catalogue / can be found in the Help for Searching the!.

In order to open an e-book or e-journal licensed (purchased) by the library, you must either access the resource from a computer in the library or be connected via Shibboleth / VPN. Access via Shibboleth / VPN is only possible for members of Bielefeld University (students / staff).

Carry out a search in the ("Library catalogue" segment) and click on a title in the hit list to go to the "detailed view". Click on the link under "Online Access". Sometimes you will find several links here, e.g. because there are different access routes. You will be redirected to the website of the e-book of the respective publisher.

If there is an access problem with a link, try the other links under "Online Access" if necessary. If you cannot access the e-book - even though you are on the campus of Bielefeld University or access it via Shibboleth / VPN - contact the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

In the section "Articles and more" and "BASE" you will also find e-books to which we do not have access. If necessary, check whether the source you are looking for can be found in the library catalogue. If not, you can place an interlibrary loan order. If you have any questions, please contact the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

Using the checkbox to the left of the hit number, you can mark a title and then use the links above to send a link to the hit list by e-mail, export the bibliographic information to a literature management system, and save, print, or add the items to "Save to List" or "Add to Book Bag". You can add individual hits to your favourites (or to a list you have created yourself) via the link "Save to List". These favourites are permanently available to you after logging in via the link "Log in (loan account)". The "Book Bag" in the! will be deleted if you do not save it and create or select a list for it. Only then can you view the list via your own account.

Services for academic and non-academic staff of the university

Yes, academic and non-academic staff of the university can borrow non-circulating media in all departmental libraries. This does not apply to journals and loose-leaf publications. Due to the Corona pandemic, it was possible for academic and non-academic staff to borrow items from the library on a permanent basis. Previously, this was only possible in some subject libraries.

The loan period for non-circulating media is 15 days. If there are no other reservations, extensions are possible up to a maximum total loan period of 65 days.

Media marked as strictly present in the catalogue may be borrowed for 1 day. An extension is not possible.


Previously, university professors and researchers could provide up to 3 people with a permanent mandate exclusively for borrowing media from the library on their behalf.

From now on, academics can generally grant a permanent mandate to up to 3 persons (e.g. assistants or secretarial staff) in order to

- borrow and return media from the University Library on their behalf.

- place reservations and orders via the!

- place interlibrary loan orders.

- view the complete loan account of the authorizer and to carry out the loan account functions there on behalf of the authorizer.

It is not possible to limit the permanent mandate to selected individual functions.

You declare which person you would like to authorize via an authorization form. The authorized person presents the form at the Service Desk in the Library Service Center and identifies himself/herself with his/her UniCard in order to have the permanent mandate registered. If the permanent mandate is to be revoked, please inform the Service Desk in the Library Service Center.

Persons with a permanent mandate do not need an additional password or a separate library card, but log in to the! or the interlibrary loan ordering system with their own personal access data (BITS user name or UniID and web password) to carry out the actions on behalf of the person granting the mandate. Automatic email notifications will continue to be sent to the email address stored in your personal loan account.

The authorized person must identify himself/herself with his/her own UniCard when borrowing items on order. You will receive a loan or return receipt by email for loan transactions and returns, which also shows who carried out the action.

Using the permanent mandate, local and interlibrary loan media can be borrowed and returned at the lending terminal or at the Service Desk in the Library Service Center, or reservations and interlibrary loan orders can be picked up. Only the return of items is possible at the self-service units.

University professors and researchers can grant you a permanent mandate via an authorization form. You present the signed form at the Service Desk in the Library Service Center and identify yourself with your UniCard in order to register the permanent mandate. You can now borrow and return media from the holdings of the university library on behalf of the person, place reservations and orders via the!, place interlibrary loan orders, view the lending account in full and carry out the lending account functions there on behalf of the person.

You do not need an additional password or a separate library card, but log in to the! or the interlibrary loan ordering system with your own personal access data (BITS user name or UniID and web password) to perform the actions on behalf of the person.

As soon as the permanent mandate has been set up, you can change the account in your lending account.

First log in to your own loan account, click on "Profile". In the "Permanent mandate" section click on "Change Account" for the relevant person for whom you want to act.

As soon as you have clicked on "Change Account", you will now act under the corresponding ID (you are logged in as the other person, so to speak) and can view the person's account (loans, fees), extend loan periods or make reservations for the person in the library catalogue. In the navigation bar you will see that you are working under a different identifier: "Account of [name]".

If you want to stop acting under someone else's identifier, click Logout. You are then completely logged out of the loan account. If you want to use your own account again or the account of another person, you have to log in to your account again.


There is also a corresponding function in the interlibrary loan. If you are acting as a proxy for another person, this will be displayed directly before an order is placed.

Who can I contact with further questions and problems?

Please feel free to contact the Service Desk in the Library Service Center with any questions regarding literature searches and literature acquisition, library cards (UniCards), interlibrary loan, fees and charges.

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