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Borrowing, Reserving, Returning

Photo of Person at a Book Shelf

The library's holdings are shelved in classified order and for the most part in open stacks in the departmental libraries (Finding Ressources).

You may take the items from the shelves and present them at one the circulation desks for the circulation transaction. For borrowing items it is required to show your UniCard (library card). All borrowed items are recorded in your loan account.

Photo of Spines with Call Numbers
  • White call number labels on the spine mean that these items circulate,
  • Yellow labelled ones do not.

After searching the library catalogue, you can find out whether and how long the available copies can be borrowed or whether they are in special locations. Here you can also make reservations if a title is on loan.

The loan period is usually 15 or 30 days and can be extended up to a total loan period of 85 or 180 days as often as you wish in your loan account, provided the title has not been reserved.

All items are protected against theft by a RFID security system.

Borrowing / Returning Items at Circulation Desks

Photo of a Loan Desk

The circulation desks are located in the entrance area of each departmental library (service hours and phone numbers). Here you can check out books from the library's collection, pick up books you have reserved and return borrowed books. You can only borrow books upon presentation of your UniCard (library card). Books can be returned without a library card.

When you borrow a book, you will receive an e-mail with the respective return date. Please be aware of the due dates! The library is obliged by federal law to impose overdue fees already the very next day after the end of a loan period.

When returning items at the circulation terminal, you will also receive a confirmation email, which you should check and keep for any complaints. If you have not yet entered your e-mail address in your borrowing account, you will receive a printed receipt.

Borrowing / Returning Items on Self-Service Units

Photo of a Person at a Self-Service Unit

During our entire opening hours, you can borrow and return items at the self-service units. Self-service units can be found in the entrance area of each departmental library. You will need a UniCard to check out items at the self-service units. When checking out items, you can choose whether or not you would like to receive a receipt with the due dates. Please note these dates carefully, as due to our fee schedule, late fees must be charged from the first day after the due date.

You will find self-service units for returning books in the entrance area of the library in the main university building (Entrance D and U), in the interim building (IUB) and in Building X. Books can always be returned without a UniCard. When returning books at the self-checkout, you can choose whether you would like to receive a return quitting. Special loans and books ordered via interlibrary loan can only be returned at the lending terminal or at the Service Desk in the Library Service Center Monday through Friday from 8 – 18.


If all borrowable copies of a title have been borrowed, you can reserve it after searching the library catalogue. The reservation is always on the title and not on an individual copy. As soon as the book is returned and you are in top place of the reservation list, you will be notified by e-mail. Please check that you have entered your correct email address in your loan account - otherwise you won't receive a notification! The title will be available for you to pick up at one of the circulation desks for 7 days (the exact location will be indicated in the notification). Titles that are not checked out, that do not circulate, are in a course reserve, a "Handapparat", or at a special location cannot be reserved.

Renewals (Extending Loan Periods)

If you need an item beyond the specified loan period, you can extend the loan period as often as you like, as long as there is no reservation by another user and the maximum total loan period of 85 days (for books whose loan period is 15 days) or 180 days (for books whose loan period is 30 days) has not been exceeded.

The renewal must be made no later than the last day of the loan period, otherwise overdue fees will apply. The renewal of the loan period begins on the day on which you effect the renewal. Since reservations by other users are possible at any time, please check the status of your loan in your loan account in good time and use the renewal option offered there.

You also have the option of requesting renewal in person, by phone or in writing at one of the departmental libraries, stating your UniCard ID number.

Written requests for renewal must be in before the due date! The date of the arrival, not the date of the postmark, is the deciding factor!

Address for written renewal requests:
Universitätsbibliothek Bielefeld
Zentrale Leihstelle
Postfach 10 02 91
33502 Bielefeld

In any case, please check whether your renewal requests could be carried out, as you alone bear the risk of renewing your borrowed items in time and otherwise high late fees can quickly arise!

Items provided by interlibrary loan service unfortunately can not be renewed.

Loss or Damage

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


Book Security System (RFID)

Photo of the Book Security System

To protect against theft, all items in our library are equipped with RFID chips (Radio Frequency Identification). Data is transmitted using radio waves. In general, libraries use passive chips with a frequency of 13.56 MHz, which, at a maximum of 45cm, have a much shorter range than those used by retailers. Our items have labels that contain a memory chip and an antenna. RFID readers read the chip data and forward it to the library database. To check out or return items, you place them on the reader. This automatically scans your items, which can then be posted to your loan account. At the same time, the tags are unlocked and you can pass through the security gates without an alarm signal being triggered.

The RFID tags in our items do not emit radiation. The transmission power of the readers and security gates is subject to strict legal requirements. RFID devices do not emit continuous radiation. Only at the moment of the reading process is a minimal magnetic field generated, the strength of which is far below that of a cell phone or cordless telephone. The shielding of the readers ensures that the field only affects the area where the item is placed.

Only a minimum of data is stored on the RFID tags in the items, so that no conclusion can be drawn about personal data or borrowings. We use an internationally standardized data model (Danish Data Model), which only records the data necessary for borrowing/returning the items. On the labels are stored

  • the country code for Germany
  • an identification number for Bielefeld University Library as the owning library of the item
  • the identification number of the item (media number)
  • the borrowing status of the item

Title or user data is not stored on the RFID tags. Data protection is ensured by the fact that no personal data is stored on the chips, nor is any data that provides information about the titles of item.


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