Borrowing from HWU libraries

Independent distance learners

You can access our extensive collection of e-books, electronic journals and databases - 24/7.

You are welcome to borrow items if you can visit a campus library, or you can request extracts from our print collections to be scanned and emailed to you (see our Interlibrary loan service).

Please note that we do not offer a postal loan service.

Who can join HWU library

Current HWU staff and students

All registered staff and students of the Heriot-Watt University are entitled to free membership of the University Library.

  • Students are automatically made members when they register with the university.
  • Staff should bring proof of employment by the university to the library for registration. Once registered you will be able to borrow. For full details on obtaining your card see Staff ID Card

Members of the public (including Alumni) and Research Park Tenants

External visitors from other universities can apply for access to the library through the SCONUL access scheme. Other users can register as an external visitor with the library. Please email for more information.

How many items can I borrow?

Dubai Campus  
Undergraduate 6 items
Taught Postgraduate 8 items
Staff/PhD students 20 items
External Reader 4 items
Edinburgh & Scottish Borders Campus  
HWU staff and students 30 items
External members 10 items
Malaysia Campus  
Staff 15 items per month
Students (UG) 6 items per month
Students (PG) 8 items per month

How long can I keep an item for?

Note: Malaysia loan periods vary - see How many items can I borrow? above

Standard loan 16 weeks
Week loans 1 week
Journals (Edinburgh Campus) reference only except for special issues, which can be borrowed for 1 week
Journals (Scottish Borders Campus) back issues can normally be borrowed for 1 week through the Service Desk

Requesting items

If you want an item which is out on loan to another borrower, you can reserve it using the 'request' option in Discovery.

You will not be given the option to reserve an item which is on the shelf in your home library and should find it yourself on the book shelf.

The library will ask the borrower to return the item (please note: due to shorter loan periods, this does NOT apply to the Malaysia Campus) and will inform you by email when it is available for collection.

You can also use the 'request’ option in Discovery to reserve books which have been ordered for the Library but not yet received from the supplier or which are currently on the new books display. If an item is missing from the shelf please ask the library staff to place a request for you and we will update you by email.

Inter-campus loans

UK campuses

Users based at the Edinburgh and Scottish Borders Campus may request items held at each other’s campus. The item will be sent to your Heriot-Watt University campus library and an email notification will be sent when it is ready for collection. Orkney users may request items held at both the Edinburgh and Scottish Borders Campus.

Malaysia and Dubai campuses

If you wish to access items held in a UK campus, please submit a Clio Inter-Library Loan request for the relevant chapter/article, which will be scanned and sent to your Heriot-Watt email address.

More details of the procedures for reserving books are available on our catalogue information page.


Email reminders for Heriot-Watt staff and students are sent to your account.

Occasionally emails may go to your junk mail folder so please check there in addition to your inbox.

Items which cannot be renewed

You will receive a courtesy notice the day before an item is due if it needs to be returned to the library.
If the item does not need to be returned it be will automatically renewed. See Renewing below.

Remember that it's your responsibility to know when your books are due and to return them on time.

Overdue items

If you don't return an item by the due date/time, the Library will send you an email overdue notice 2 days after the due date. You will be charged a fine when you return it. The longer you keep an item after the due date or time, the larger the fine.

You may be blocked from borrowing any more items until the overdue item has been returned. The Library will continue to send you reminder notices until you return the item. When an item is 31 days overdue its status will change to “Lost” and you will have the following charges to pay: a £40 replacement cost (refundable if item is returned); £5 admin fee (not refundable) and accumulating overdue fines.

If you have a seriously overdue item, you will be sent an invoice from our Finance Department for the replacement cost of the item and will be suspended from all use of the Library until the item is returned or the invoice is paid.

Recalled items

If you have an item on loan which another reader needs to use, you will be sent an email recall notice. This will ask you to return the item by a certain date, normally one week from the date the notice was sent. You must return the item on or before the date indicated on the recall notice. If you don't do this, you'll be charged a fine of 30p per day.


The library system automatically renews your Standard loan and Week loan items where it is allowed. You may also sign in to your account and renew them yourself by signing in to your account in Discovery

Automatic renewal

Your Standard loan and Week loan items will be automatically renewed the day before they’re due back.

  • your library account is blocked
  • there is a request on the item
  • the maximum renewal period has been reached
Maximum renewal period
Staff & Research PGs Standard loans for up to 36 months
Week loans for up to 6 months
Undergraduatesand Course PGs Standard loans for up to 12 months
Week loans for up to 6 months

Fines and charges

Fines are charged on the late return of all library material. All borrowers are charged at the following rates: -

Standard loans 3 day grace period - no fine charged if item returned within 3 days of due date.
The maximum fine per item is £10.00
UK campuses: 20p per item per day.
Borrower’s library account will be suspended from borrowing/renewing once a total of £20 is due in fines.
Dubai campus: 1 AED per item per day.
Borrower’s library account will be suspended from borrowing/renewing once a total of 50 AED is due in fines.
Malaysia campus: 1 MYR per item per day.
Borrower’s library account will be suspended from borrowing/renewing once a total of 50 MYR is due in fines.
Recalled standard loans 30p per day. No grace period.
Week loans 30p per day. No grace period.
Short (3 hour) loans 2p per minute

The maximum fine is £10.00 (Malaysia campus MYR 50) per item.

Returning items

Please return items via the self-issue machines or handthem to a member of staff at the Customer Service Desk for checking in.

Please return all items by the due date and/or time. We will charge a fine for late items.

Lost, stolen or damaged

Lost or stolen items

You are responsible for the cost of replacing any items you are unable to return to the Library because they are lost or stolen from you. Please inform the Customer Service Desk staff as soon as this happens.

If an item is lost or stolen from you

  • You will be sent an invoice for the replacement cost of the item, plus an administrative charge of £5.00 (UK) AED25 (Dubai).
  • The invoice should be paid within 2 weeks.
  • The minimum replacement charge is £25.00 (UK) AED100 (Dubai).

If you prefer, you can purchase a replacement copy of the lost/stolen item and take it to the Library service desk. The replacement item must be

  • the most recent edition available.
  • new or in an excellent condition.

The Library reserves the right to reject a replacement copy which does not meet these criteria. If the replacement copy you offer is not acceptable you will be required to pay the invoice.

If you find a lost book after you have paid its replacement cost (or if a stolen book is found and returned to you), we will reimburse you (less the administrative charge) provided you return the item with your receipt.

Damaged items

If an item is damaged while in your possession, you will be responsible for the cost of repair, if this is possible, or for the cost of replacing it if it cannot be repaired.


  • You will be charged a fine if you return items late.
    Please ensure that you either return your items on time or renew if you wish to extend your loan.
  • You are responsible for the items that you borrow.
    Do not lend them to anyone else as they may lose them or return them late. If this happens you will be asked to pay the fine or replacement charge
  • Do not lend your ID card to anyone so that they can use it to borrow items.
    If they lose the items borrowed or return them late you will be asked to pay the fine or replacement charge
  • If you lose your ID card, please inform the Customer Service Desk at your local campus - see Contact/Visit us