Library Borrowing Privileges for Visitors

In addition to services for all visitors, individuals with borrowing privileges may also check out circulation materials from the Libraries' collections. Borrowing privileges do not include access to UW-restricted services such as interlibrary loan and remote access to databases. More about privileges

Individuals issued borrower cards on a non-fee basis upon presentation of appropriate identification to Library Account Services:

  • Faculty, students and staff of Orbis Cascade Alliance institutions.
  • Spouses or domestic partners of: UW faculty, staff, academic personnel, visiting scholars, administrative personnel, and retired faculty and staff. Verification or spouse's UW ID required. Contact Library Account Services for the type of verification required.
  • Faculty, academic personnel, and distance learners of each of the Washington State four-year colleges and universities. Current institutional ID required.
  • Faculty and academic personnel of each of the Washington State community colleges that are not members of the Orbis Cascade Alliance. Current institutional ID required, or a letter on official letterhead must be submitted to Library Account Services (see Letters of Application below).
  • Washington State teachers and certified school personnel who have need of library materials. A letter on official letterhead must be submitted to Library Account Services (see Letters of Application below).
  • Federal and state governmental employees who have need of library material in an official capacity. A letter on official letterhead must be submitted to Library Account Services (See Letters of Application below).
  • Health-related professionals from institutions with major University of Washington affiliations. See Library Account Services for a list of currently affiliated institutions. Current institutional ID required.
  • Current UW Alumni Association members. Membership ID required. More info on UWAA access to library resources.
  • Members of the Friends of the UW Libraries with qualifying memberships. Current membership ID required.
  • Faculty from institutions that participate in the Reciprocal Faculty Borrowing Program. Faculty will need to get a Reciprocal Faculty Borrowing Program card from their home institution.

Individuals issued borrower cards for a fee at Library Account Services:

There is a non-refundable fee of $100.00 per year or $30.00 for three months.

  • Individuals who qualify on a basis of research needs and non-availability of material from other sources.
  • Students from other institutions that are not members of the Orbis Cascade Alliance.
  • Faculty of four-year colleges and universities that are not members of the Orbis Cascade Alliance.
  • County and city government officials.

Organizations and businesses which need research material not available from other libraries, issued borrower cards for a fee:

Cards are issued to a principal borrower rather than the organization. The principal borrower assumes responsibility for return of material and payment of library charges for all cards issued in his/her name. There is a non-refundable fee of $200.00 per card per year or $70.00 per card for three months. Additional cards in the name of the same principal borrower can be issued for a fee of $70.00 per card. These proxy cards will expire the same day as the principal borrower card.

Letters of Application

When a letter of application is required, as outlined in these guidelines, an individual wishing to apply for borrowing privileges should submit the letter to Library Account Services describing the need to make use of the UW Libraries.

Send, bring or fax the letter to:

Library Account Services
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA 98195-2900
Fax: (206) 685-6972

When a fee is required for UW Libraries borrowing privileges, Library Account Services accepts Visa, MasterCard and Discover, cash or a check payable to the University of Washington.

Questions about borrowing privileges can be directed to Library Account Services at (206) 543-1174. Library Account Services is located on the first floor of Suzzallo Library, and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The office is closed on University holidays.

Access to Materials

Most libraries and units have materials which are available for browsing. All visitors are free to use these materials in the library.

Select materials are not accessible for public browsing, but may be requested for retrieval. Persons with UW borrower cards may request this material online through the UW Libraries' catalog. Those without UW borrower cards may request retrieval through library staff at a service desk. Some examples of this are media, reserve, auxiliary and/or storage materials.

Some materials are restricted to Library Use Only. Typical items include most reference materials, Special Collections and archival theses.

Library Cards

After you have been granted borrowing privileges, Library Account Services will issue you a borrower's card. Lost or stolen cards should be reported immediately to a library circulation desk or Library Account Services, to prevent fraudulent use. Obtain replacements from Library Account Services (206) 543-1174 - there is a replacement fee of $5.

Loan Periods

Loan periods vary among libraries and may be determined by the status of the borrower, type of material and individual collection policy. The loan period is generally 4 weeks.

Your Library Account

  • You can check your library record, renew books and modify your personal information by logging into Your Library Account online.
  • You can receive library notices sent by e-mail telling you when your books are ready for pickup, have been recalled or are overdue. You will be sent a due date reminder notices two days prior to the due date. Make sure that an email address shows in Your Library Account.

Renewal of Materials

Most UW Libraries materials are allowed an unlimited number of renewals.

The following exceptions apply:

  • Items which have had holds placed on them cannot be renewed.
  • Reserve items cannot be renewed.
  • Items checked out through Summit cannot be renewed.
    (Summit borrowing available only to current UW students, faculty, staff, and Summit Visiting Patrons.)
  • Items billed for replacement cannot be renewed.

You may view your library account at any time to see a list of your checked out items. Note: This does not include items such as unbound periodicals that were checked out with a handwritten check-out slip. If your list shows an item that you believe you have returned, do not request renewal, but rather notify the circulation staff of the owning unit.

Items with barcodes can be renewed remotely via the Web or by phone.

Items without barcodes, such as unbound periodicals, cannot be renewed using online forms. Renewals can be made by phone or by sending an e-mail message to the owning library unit. Library contact information

Retrieval, Holds and Searches for Alumni and Visitors

  • Most UW Libraries material with the status of "Available" can be pulled from the shelf and sent to another library for pickup. This may take three to five days. If you are in a hurry you should go directly to the owning library.
  • You can also place holds on UW Libraries material. Longer due dates will be reduced and material will be available in seven to 14 days, depending on when the material was checked out. More information.
  • If you can't find material on the shelf that shows in the catalog as "available" request the item from the catalog and a search will be initiated. You will be notified when the item is found.

Returning Materials

Non-reserve library materials (except for fragile items) may be returned to any UW library or book return. A drive-up book return is available south of the dental wing of the Health Sciences Center.

Non-reserve library materials may also be returned by mail to:

Central Circulation Services
University of Washington
Box 352900
Seattle, Washington 98195-2900

Material sent via the mail will be checked in when it is received by the Libraries and is the responsibility of the borrower until that time. Please allow time for mailing and delivery.

Reserve items must be returned to the service desk where they were checked out.

Change of Address for Alumni and Visitors

Report address changes to Library Account Services, (206) 543-1174.

Assessment of Charges

Fines are assessed to encourage prompt renewal and return of materials. Fines apply all days and all hours, even if the library is closed, and are assessed after an item is overdue.  Fees are levied to defray the costs incurred by the Libraries in billing, processing sanctions and other activities related to the recovery of material.


Standard Loans

Standard loans are items with loan periods of 6 days or more and are assessed daily overdue fines.

1-20 days overdue $.50/day
At 21 days overdue the item may be billed as lost

Lost item charges may include the following:

  • $15 lost item process fee
  • $150 or more item replacement fee (see Replacement Charges for more information, including Summit replacement costs)
  • $10 maximum overdue fine retroactive to the due date

NoteAssessment of charges for Gallagher Law Library items may be different


Reserve Loans and loans of less than 3 days

Loans with due times or days between 2 hours and 3 days are assessed hourly fines.

1 - 10 hours overdue $2.50/hour
At 11 hours overdue the item may be billed as lost

Lost items charges include the following:

  • $25 lost item process fee
  • $150 or more item replacement fee
  • $25 maximum overdue fine

Note: Reserve materials must be returned to the Reserve Desk where checked out.

Damage Charges

Damage charges are levied to repair material or to compensate for the decreased value of materials due to irreparable damage. Damage fees consist of $15.00 for books that can be circulated after repair. A standard replacement charge is assessed when the damaged item cannot be circulated any longer or is replaced.

Replacement Charges

Items belonging to the University of Washington Libraries or borrowed through Interlibrary Loan have a standard replacement fee of $150.00, but can be adjusted higher or lower by the owning library to fit the actual cost.  Items borrowed from Summit Libraries have a standard replacement fee of $90.00.

Patrons are encouraged to pursue replacing items themselves if an item has not yet been withdrawn from the library system and they can find it cheaper than the standard replacement cost. The patron should contact the Libraries before purchasing a copy to verify that it will be accepted.  Summit and Interlibrary Loan items cannot be replaced.

If a book is paid by the patron, and the original book is found later, the original book remains the property of the state and must be returned.

Appeal of Library Charges

If you think the library has made an error or if you have a special situation that made it difficult for you to return or renew materials on time, you may file an appeal. Charges may be upheld, reduced or cancelled. Appeals must be filed within six months of billing.

Appeals based on not knowing the library rules or the amount of charges, claiming your need was greater than another's, being too busy, being out of town, uncertainty about the due date, failing to receive a notice, or failing to read your e-mail are generally not regarded as valid reasons for canceling or reducing library charges.

To begin the appeals process complete the appeal form linked below. Please take time to read through all instructions carefully and be sure to refer to the FAQ if you have any immediate questions. You will receive an Appeals Confirmation Receipt via e-mail if you enter an e-mail address on your appeal form. If you do not enter an e-mail address, but wish to confirm the receipt of your appeal, contact Library Account Services at (206) 543-1174. The final decision from the committee will be sent via US mail to the address you provide in your Appeal. Please notify Library Account Services of any changes to your address. The Library Fines Appeals Committee consists of a faculty member and students and it makes its decision independently of the Libraries.