Last Updated: Feb 24, 2021     Views: 4014

I'm a member of the public; how do I access the library?

COVID-19 update

Unfortunately access to our libraries is currently suspended to all but The University of Manchester students and staff as a result of the current pandemic. Information below the line should be disregarded until further notice.



Individuals can access the library for reference purposes, free of charge, on production of a form of photo ID.

If you wish to borrow items you can join as an external member at a cost of £75 inc. VAT per year or £200 inc VAT for three years. Payment can be made in cash or by card at the Customer Services Desk in the Main Library. Alternatively you can pay via the University’s online store.

We would encourage all applicants to contact us via Library Help in case there is an alternative method of access available to them.

Please note membership of the Library is at the discretion of the University Librarian and Director.

Arrangements differ for visiting John Rylands Research Institute and Library and accessing the Special Collections.

How to apply

Applications should be made in person at the Customer Services Desk in the Main Library. Payment for borrowing membership can be made in cash or by card. Please bring one form of photographic ID with you.

Your membership card will them be produced for you while you wait, usually within 10-15 minutes.  
PLEASE NOTE: Cards can only be produced Monday to Friday until 7pm and until 4pm at the weekend.

Please visit Library Help for further assistance if you cannot visit the library in person to apply for membership.


External borrowing membership will allow you to borrow up to four items (excluding High Demand items). All loans are subject to recall at any time.

Due to licensing restrictions, most of the library's electronic resources are only available to current staff and students of the University of Manchester.

External users can access some electronic resources (including e-journals) on request at the Customer Services Desk.

Your Library account

If you are entitled to borrow items then you will need to sign up for a username and password to manage your Library account online after you have collected your membership card. You will be able to see which items you have on loan, renew items, reserve items and see if any items have been recalled (items can be recalled at any time and are usually due back within seven days).

To complete the username sign up please visit the IT account manager.

  • Click 'activate your account'
  • Fill in the required details (surname, date of birth and library ID number which is the first seven digits on your library card). Then click 'search'
  • This will bring up your details and ask you 'Is this you?' Please click 'yes' if it is. If it does not bring up the correct details contact a member of staff for assistance.
  • Fill in the details and choose a password.
  • Once complete, please read the terms and conditions and check the box to confirm that you agree to them.
  • Finally click 'complete registration'.

Your username and password will not give you IT access to the internet or off campus access to electronic resources.