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Library FAQS


Where are the Libraries?

The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library:

UCT's main library is the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library (COL). You will find the COL at the centre of Upper Campus. If you walk up Jammie steps, the entrance to the COL is in the building to the right of Jammie Hall.

View Upper Campus plan.

There are also nine branch libraries situated on UCT's various campuses. Find out more about UCT Libraries.

How do I get in?

You will need your Student Card to get into the Libraries. Your Student Card is a multipurpose card:


  • it identifies you as a UCT student;
  • you use it to get into the Libraries and other access-controlled buildings at UCT ... just hold your card up to the card reader at the doors or the turnstiles to get in;
  • you use your card to borrow books and other items from the Libraries;
  • and you use your card to pay for photocopying and printing at UCT.

Look after your student card! If you lose your card, report the loss immediately to the Loans Desk staff so that they can prevent anyone else from using it to take out books in your name. Never lend your student card to someone else. This is against University rules and could land you in a disciplinary hearing! It could also land you with hefty library fines incurred by the person using your card.

When are the Libraries open?

The Libraries have different opening hours for terms and vacations.

Different branches have different opening hours.

How do I take out a book?

Just take the book along to the Loans Desk together with your student card and the Loans Desk staff will issue it to you. Or please use our Self-Check-Out machine.

How many books may I borrow at a time? 

Undergraduates may borrow up to 6 books for 7 days. (Find out more ... )

Postgraduates may borrow up to 12 books for 35 days (Find out more ...)

Can I renew my books?

Yes, you can renew your book loans in any of the following ways:

Renew the loans yourself online via Primo, for more information click on the link,  

Phone the Loans Desk and ask for your book(s) to be renewed. The Chancellor Oppenheimer Library Loans Desk is: 021 650-3118 or 021 650-3120

Take the book and your student card to the Loans Desk and ask for the book to be renewed.

Note: If another library user has requested one of the books you have out, you will not be allowed to renew that book.


Can I request a book that is on loan to someone else?

If the book you need is out on loan, you can make an online request for it in the catalogue, on Primo, or you can ask a member of the Loans Desk staff to do this for you. When you request a book, the book will be recalled from the person who has it out on loan. That person will be given a maximum of 7 days in which to return the book. As soon as the book is returned, you will be sent an email telling you that the book is waiting for you to collect.

Where and when must I return books?

Books can be returned to any of the libraries at UCT. In the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library there is a Returns Hatch at the end of the Loans Desk - just drop your books into the hatch. If you have taken books out of the Short Loans Centre, remember to return them to Short Loans.
Your library items will no longer be stamped with a due date when issued to you. Instead a loan receipt will be sent to you via email. This will also apply to any library items that you return to the library.
Emails to students will be sent to and to staff at . It is important that you keep these emails as proof of your due dates as you will be expected to renew or return the items on the due dates specified on the receipts.

Are there fines for late returns?

Yes, we must ensure that our books are equally available to all, so library users who fail to return their books on time will be fined. Ordinary books incur a fine of R2.00 for every day they are late. Short Loan books are in heavy demand, so they incur heavier fines. For these books, the fine is R2.00 for every hour (or part of an hour) they are late. Books that have been recalled by the Library incur a fine of R5.00 for every day they are late.

What is “Short Loans”?

Short Loans Centre is a section of Chancellor Oppenheimer Library where we keep books and other items that are needed by large numbers of students. There are also Short Loans sections in most branch libraries. To ensure that these books are accessible to everyone who needs them, they are issued out for short loan periods, usually 3 hours, or overnight. Short loan books are kept behind the counter in the Short Loans Centre. To take a book out, you will need the shelf number of the book which can be found using Primo. For more information, click the link:

How do I borrow books from Short Loans?

Short loan books are kept behind the counter in the Short Loans Centre. To take a book out, you will need the shelf number of the book which can be found using Primo

May I borrow journals?

Most of UCT Libraries' journals are in electronic format. You can access them via Primo.
A smaller proportion of our journals are in print format.

Can I photocopy stuff?

There are printer-photocopiers distributed throughout the Libraries for you to use. You pay for your photocopies with credit that you load onto your student card. There are also copy centres distributed across the UCT campuses, including one next to the entrance to the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library. It is called the UCT Document Centre.

How do the photocopiers work?

  1. To log in:

Hold your student card up to the proximity reader on the left side of the machine.

A login window will appear on the machine’s touch-screen.

Use the keypad on the right to type in your PIN code.

Press Login at the top right of the touch-screen.

  1. To photocopy:

Press the F1 button at the top left of the screen.

This will open the photocopy window on the touch-screen, where you can adjust the settings for your copies.

Place the material to be copied on the machine and use the Start button at the bottom right of the panel to start copying.

  1. To print:

Open the document you want to print at any PC in the Libraries and issue a print command.

A login screen will pop up. Log in using your student number and your network password. You will be asked to confirm the print job which will then go into your print queue, where it will stay until you are ready to release it at one of the printer-copiers and collect your printout.

Go to a printer-copier machine and log in as described above.

Press the Follow-You button on the touch-screen.

The screen will then display your print queue and a list of the documents for which you have issued print commands.

Select the document you want to print and press the Print button.

NB. Don't wait too long between issuing your print command and releasing your print job at a copier. Your print job will remain on the system for three days after which it will be deleted.

  1. To scan:

Select the Scan-to-Me button on the touch-screen and then login.

This will open a scanning window on the touch-screen where you can adjust your scanning settings. Your email address will be automatically detected. The scanned document will be sent to your email inbox.

Place the material to be scanned on the machine and press the Start Scan button at the bottom right of the screen.

  1. To log out:

Press the Home button on the touch-screen.

Press Logout at the top right of the screen and wait a few seconds while the system generates a report of your transaction and tells you what your copy credit balance is.

After viewing the report, click OK.

How much may I copy?

Stay on the right side of the law!! To comply with the Copyright Act, a good rule of thumb is: never copy more than one article from a journal issue, and never copy more than 1 chapter (or 10%) of a book.

Where can I print my files? 

Follow-me Printing: is available in the Libraries.

This is how Follow-me Printing works:

  1. Make sure you have credit on your Student Card. (Remember: your student card = your access card = your library card = your photocopy card = you printing card.)
  2. When working at any PC in the Libraries, you will be able to issue a print command. A login screen will pop up---just log in using your Student Number and your network password. Your print command will go into a print queue, where it will stay until you are ready to release the print job and collect your printout.
  3. You can print at any printer-photocopier in the same library building as the PC where you issued your print command. Swipe your student card through the card reader, log in with the PIN you have set up, and select Print. Your print job will have "followed" you ... just select it and print.
  4. You must release your print job within three days. Print jobs that have not been printed out after three days are deleted from the system.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of copying ideas, words, images, or other creations, and passing them off as your own. If you use another person's words or ideas in your assignments or essays, you must acknowledge the original author and indicate the work from which you took the material. This is known as referencing.

There are many different conventions for referencing and creating bibliographies - e.g. the UCT Author-date referencing style, the APA referencing style, the MLA referencing style, etc. For guides to using these styles, see our Referencing Help and Avoiding Plagiarism.