Visitor access

The University of Bristol library is open to external researchers and visitors who have a genuine need to use materials not available in other libraries.

You can either use the visitor scheme for day visits, or see if you are eligible to join as an external user.

Before your visit

Please use Library Search to check which print material we hold (only printed material is available to visitors).

View our library locations and opening hours. Detailed travel information is on our how to get here page.

External visitors may use any of our nine libraries.
Library-managed study centres are only available to current students and staff; this includes the Arts & Social Sciences library between the hours of midnight and 8am during term and 10pm and 8am during vacations.

Unfortunately, use of University computers and electronic materials is not available for visitors.

Please see our list of Freely available research resources (PDF, 81kB) as an alternative.

Visitor scheme for day visits

Visitors can apply for a one-day pass, free of charge. Passes are given on a first-come first-served basis. Numbers are limited (except during July and August) and you can't reserve a pass in advance.

The scheme operates all year, except during these periods:

  • 2 - 19 January 2018. January assessment period.
  • 12 March - 1 June 2018. Summer revision and assessment period.
  • 1 - 12 October 2018. First two weeks of Teaching Block 1.
  • For 2019 restriction periods, please check this page nearer the time

During teaching blocks (terms) some libraries are busy, particularly between 11 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday. If possible please visit outside of these times.

You must be aged 16 or over to use the visitor scheme. Visitors may not bring children to the libraries.

How to register for a day pass

You must register for a day pass when you visit. Passes are then valid for that day for the opening hours of the library you wish to use.

Where and when to register for a day pass
LibraryAccessNumber of placesWhen to register
Arts and Social Sciences Library All libraries 30 per day Monday to Friday,  9 am to 6 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm
Wills Memorial Library Wills Memorial Library 10 per day

Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm

Please bring the following identification:

  • Photo identification, eg passport, identification card, driving licence, etc, or;
  • Identification with an address, eg recent bank statement, utility bill, council tax bill, etc.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), A-level and IB students

EPQ, A-level and IB students in local schools aged 16 and over are welcome to use the visitor scheme to consult our print material. 

If you do not have photo identification with your date of birth, you will need a letter of introduction from your school, on headed paper, stating your:

  • full name
  • level of study
  • date of birth

Please also see our school support page.

Join as an external user

The following external users can become members of the library:

Eligibility for joining as an external user
User groupMembership fees and detailsMembership restrictions
University of Bristol graduates Free visitor card. Borrower card £60 per year, up to 20 loans Have a reasonably local address.
Retired, former staff Free borrower card, up to 20 loans, renewable yearly You must have worked at the University for at least 10 continuous years. You must be of retirement age and no longer in work.
Members of local societies

Borrower card £10 per year, up to 5 loans

The following societies are eligible: Bristol Law Society, Bristol Society of Architects, Bristol Medico Chirurgical Society.
Staff and students from other UK and Ireland universities See information for SCONUL Access visitors

Universities must be part of the SCONUL Access scheme.

Access restrictions during revision and assessment periods.

If none of these categories apply to you, please use the Visitor Scheme.
You are welcome to email us on with details of your needs. 

How to join as external user

Membership is subject to status check/proof of eligibility. Memberships are processed within five working days from receipt of payment and/or status proof.

To enquire about joining or to renew your membership, complete form here or email


For visitor and membership queries, please email

Free WiFi

Visitors can use free WiFi.

Visitors with disabilities

Please let us know about any access requirements before your visit by emailing D/deaf and hard of hearing visitors can borrow Deaf Alert Pagers.

Visitor security

University Security Services operate identification checks on all University premises; you will need to show your pass when requested by a member of staff.

Library regulations

Permission to visit or join the library is granted subject to the approval of the Director of Library Services and subject to the conditions set out in the Regulations on Use of Library Services and Facilities (PDF, 41kB).

The University buildings remain private premises and we reserve the right to deny access where deemed appropriate.

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