UNISA Library services : Lending services

UNISA Library services : Lending services

Borrowing and requesting library material

How to search for and request Library material electronically

Search for the material you need via the Catalogue 

  • On the Library’s webpage, click on Search the catalogue
  • Search the catalogue for the required item (using the title, keyword, etc searches)
  • Then click on the Request link to request the identified items from the Library.You may request your Library material :
  • via the Unisa Library Catalogue on the Library’s webpage
  • via the AirPAC catalogue (http://m.oasis.unisa.ac.za) on your mobile device
  • Via Encore

Download your electronic reserves (Prescribed and recommended articles and chapters)

Download your e-reserves (Prescribed and recommended articles and chapters), chapters from books and law reports via the catalogue as this will save you a lot of time.

It is recommended that you use the Course Code Search from the Search options dropdown menu to access a list of your recommended material directly.

  • Enter your course code and submit, select the current year and click on the relevant title
  • You will be prompted for your student number and password before you can view or download your material.The Electronic reserves are available in PDF. You will need the Adobe Reader to view or print these documents. This can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.adobe.com.

Information about requesting or borrowing library material

Library material may be:

  • Requested and downloaded electronically via the Library Catalogue
  • Borrowed in person
  • Requested by post – send a completed request card to the relevant library
  • Requested by faxing a completed request card to the relevant library (Fax no: 012 429 8128)

Please note: Registered Unisa students, with the exception of certain certificate and programme students, may borrow library material. The borrowing of library material is subject to the Library’s lending regulations.

Students may borrow or request the following:

  • recommended books
  • prescribed books – Students are expected to buy their own copies of the prescribed books listed in Tutorial Letters 101
    • Limited copies are housed in the Unisa Branch Libraries and can be borrowed, subject to each Library’s lending regulations
  • open shelf books
  • audio-visual material (certain restrictions apply)

Reference works such as encyclopaedias, dictionaries, year books and law reports may not be taken out of the Library.

Please note: Request your library material well ahead of your assignment’s due date.

If you know how to request, click here, if not continue to ‘How to search and request Library material electronically’ 

How many items may I borrow?

Undergraduate students and persons who are studying for non-degree purposes may borrow a maximum of 8 books and 4 audio-visual items at a time.  
Postgraduate (honours, master’s and doctoral) students may borrow a maximum of 16 books and 4 audio-visual items. 
Students registered for music courses may borrow 8 audio-visual items.

Loan periods differ according to:

  • the type of library material
  • whether items were issued by post or being borrowed in person

Delivery of requested material

How does the Library deliver requested material?

Your request will be acknowledged and you will be informed about the status of your request via email and sms.

If the item is not available in the Unisa Library collection and you are a master’s, doctoral student or member of staff, this request will be referred to the interlibrary loans staff who will try to find the item at another Library.

Your material can be delivered to you in any one of the following ways :

  • articles will be emailed to your myLife email address as this is the preferred email address used by the University to communicate with its students. Access a tutorial on how to claim your myLife address
  • Books and other Library material will be sent via the secure Safemail service of the Post Office who will notify you when the parcel arrives at the Post Office for collection.

You are able to track the status of the posted item(s) via myUnisa :

  • Choose My Admin
  • Select Parcel Tracking menu
  • You will see the parcel track and trace number

It is your responsibility to collect an item you requested. Please claim parcels as it wastes time and costs money if unclaimed. This also prevents other students from using these items

  • Collection at your nearest Unisa Branch Library
  • Courier delivery to the doorstep of any Unisa disabled client

Renewing library material

How to renew Library materials

Library material may be renewed:

  • Online via the Library catalogue
  • In the libraries at the lending desks
  • By telephone

Telephonic renewals

The telephone number for renewals during office hours is 012 429 4164 or +27 11 471 3068 / 2933. See branch locator for branch libraries. A renewal reference number is given when library material is renewed telephonically. This number should be quoted if queries arise regarding the renewal.

Postal renewals

  • The item to be renewed does not need to be returned to the Library
  • A request for the renewal of the loan period should reach the Library approximately four days before the due date
  • Students who renew by post should complete the renewal card which accompanies each item, fill in their student number and the barcode numbers of the items on the reverse side of the card and post the card to the Library
  • Renewal cards should be posted in a separate envelope and not be included with material which is being returned to the Library
  • Renewal cards will be posted back to the student, with the new due date of the items stamped on the card. Items that could not be renewed are indicated on the renewal card. These non-renewed items must be returned to the Library when their loan periods expire
  • Renewal requests received via letter or fax will be treated as a renewal card

Electronic renewals

Library material may be renewed via the Library catalogue. Renewals will not be granted if there is an outstanding account on the student’s loan record.

Renewals are only granted if there is no waiting list. Items on the waiting list must be returned as soon as possible.

Information about renewal periods

For how long will my items be renewed?

If a request for renewal is granted, the loan period for the library material will be extended by 14 days.

Items that are not renewed because they are required by another borrower on the waiting list must be returned by the due date.

If there is no response regarding a renewal request within 7 days of your request, enquiries may be directed to 012 429 4164 for Main Library items and to the relevant branch library for branch library items.

Renewal periods

Study collection books21*21*
Open shelf / general collection2142
Branch libraries

  • Study collection books
  • Open shelf / general collection




Audio-visual material
Interlibrary loans

* Study Collection books have a yellow date sheet inside the book.
** Will be allowed only when the library from which the material was loaned grants permission.

Requests for renewal (extension of the loan period) should be addressed to the library that issued the material. Renewals will only be granted if there is no one on the waiting list. Items on the waiting list must be returned by the due date.

When requesting renewal, students must give their student number. Renewals will not be granted if there is an outstanding account on the student’s loan record.

Returning library material

Information about returning library material

Library material may be returned in person at :

  • The main campus Library
  • Branch Libraries
  • Mobile Library (bus)

or posted to:

Unisa Library
PO Box 392

Students are liable for the cost of returning library material.

Please note: Do not return photocopied articles to the Library – they are yours to keep

After returning Library material:

  • Keep proof of return
  • If you would like to verify that your material has been returned, log in to your myLibrary (https://oasis.unisa.ac.za/patroninfo) and check the items out on your name
  • If you owe money to the Library due to late returns – See myStudies, p.39 for more details in the myStudies document (new pdf)

Library material must be returned in sturdy packages. The Post Office parcel slip should be kept as proof that the books have been returned. Students are advised to insure their parcels because the Post Office compensates clients for the loss of insured parcels only.  No cards need to be completed when material is returned. If a parcel is lost in the post, the sender will be held liable for the replacement cost. The replacement cost is payable to the Library.

No audio-visual material should be enclosed in book parcels. All audio-visual material should be returned in separate parcels that are clearly marked For attention: Audio-visual Collection.

Books may not be posted in the assignment boxes.

Must I return library material after my examinations?

All Library material must be returned immediately after the examinations, regardless of further study plans and / or expiry dates.

The examination results of students who fail to return library material by the due date will be withheld until the material has been received or until the replacement cost of each item as well as all outstanding administrative costs have been paid in full. Re-registration will also be prevented.

Students who qualify for supplementary or aegrotat examinations will be notified to this effect in a letter from the University. These students should submit a copy of this letter to the Main Library or the relevant branch library so that their membership can be extended until after the examinations.

Must I return library material if my studies are cancelled or suspended?

Students who cancel one or more of their courses must return all library material for the relevant courses without delay.

Students who are obliged to suspend their studies due to ill health or other circumstances should immediately return all library material in their possession. The material may be requested again after re-registration.

What happens if I don’t return library material on time?

Failure to return library material on time could lead to the rendering of an account. The Library will send an account for the standard price of R1039.00 per item plus R5.00 per item per day for library material that is not returned by the due date.

If a borrowed item is returned to the Library after an account has been rendered, the student remains liable for the administrative costs of R5.00 per item per day (minimum R35.00 per item) for the late return. The administrative cost will not be cancelled. Students may not borrow other material until this amount has been paid in full.

What must I do when library material is damaged or lost?

Please inform the Library immediately if an item is damaged or lost. Damage includes marking, underlining and making notes in an item.

The student has to pay the replacement cost or supply the Library with a new copy if library material is damaged or lost.

If the Library is not immediately notified about the damage to or loss of an item, an account for the standard item price will be posted to the student. See Tariffs for more information.

The student may not borrow any other library material until this account has been paid or the item has been replaced. 

How do I check my loan record?

Students may use the Library catalogue to check which items have been issued to them.

Interlibrary loans

Self-help service for requesting books found on the SACat database

Self-help service for requesting books found on the SACat database and that are available from other South African libraries

Books found on the SACat database (South African national catalogue) hosted by Sabinet (South African Bibliographic and Information Network) that are not available in the collections of the Unisa Library may be requested via the interlibrary loan (ILL) from other South African libraries.

This service is limited to Unisa staff and to registered M and D students.

The advantage of this service is that it allows you to make the request at the moment you find a relevant title in the SACat database and this saves time in the request process.

To register for the PreRequest service:

Before you are able to submit a self-service ILL request, you first need to register for the PreRequest service. Send an email to the libr-ill@unisa.ac.za mailbox of the InterLibrary Loan staff and please supply the following information:

  • Enter PreRequest as the subject of your email
  • Provide your staff or student number
  • Title (e.g. Ms, Prof, Dr … etc.)
  • First name / initial(s)
  • Surname
  • Department (e.g. Health Sciences) /Degree (e.g. M.Ed.) and Course (course code or name of course)
  • Contact phone number
  • Contact email address

The information you submit in the email will be sent to Sabinet to formally request access to the service on your behalf. Within two working days, the Unisa InterLibrary Loan staff will send through an email that provides you with the User ID and Password allocated to you by Sabinet.

To access the SACat database to search for books or for a particular book:

Be aware that the code that indicates a book is available in the Unisa Library is 2570. If the code 2570 does NOT appear in the record of a book then this book is not available in the Unisa Library and may be requested on interlibrary loan.
If the SACat database is accessed from off campus, staff will be prompted to enter their Unisa Network login username and password, and students will be prompted to enter their student number and myUnisa password.

Once you have received the User ID and Password:

  • Type http://reference.sabinet.co.za/
  • Click on SACat
  • Carry out your search for a particular book or for books on your research topic
  • Click on the title of the book you wish to request
  • Click on the Request this item button
  • Enter the User ID and Password you received from the Interlibrary Loans staff and click on the grey Login button
  • You will retrieve the request form which begins with two mandatory fields (indicated by an asterisk sign*):
  • Complete the ‘Need by’ field (that is, the date before which you need to see the book)
  • Click on, and read the contents of, the link to the relevant sections of the Copyright Act of 1978
  • Then tick the box next to this link [I have read the terms of the Copyright Act of 1978]
  • Finally, click on the Request button

Upon delivery of the requested item:

The item(s) you request will be sent to the Unisa Library (Pretoria, Main campus), and you will be notified by an email and a telephone call from the Interlibrary Loans staff to let you know your interlibrary loan request(s) have arrived. Depending on the method of delivery you requested, the items may be collected from the Lending counter of the Muckleneuk Library or posted to you.

To renew the loan period for a book borrowed from another South African library:

The privilege of renewing an item borrowed from another library will depend on the loan policy of the particular host library. Some libraries do not permit renewals for material borrowed on interlibrary loan.

However, if renewal is possible in terms of the policy of the lending Library then please send your request for renewal to the InterLibrary Loans mailbox at: libr-ill@unisa.ac.za. 
Include your name, staff or student number, contact details and the details of the book(s) you wish to renew, and note the new due date.

As always, take good care of the slips you receive from the Unisa Library as proof of safe return of a borrowed item.

To ask any further questions about the interlibrary loan self-help PreRequest service, please contact the InterLibrary Loans staff at:

  • Email : libr-ill@unisa.ac.za
  • Telephone: 012 429 3210 / 3303

To arrange for training in how to set up and use the self-help PreRequest service when searching the SACat database please contact your nearest Personal Librarian.

Book collections

Library book collections and their conditions of use

Recommended books

Reservations may be made via the Library Catalogue should all copies be out on loan.

A list of recommended titles appears at the end of Tutorial Letter 101 for each course. Each title has been allocated a book number which should be supplied when requesting these books from the library.

Prescribed books

Students are required to purchase their own copies of prescribed books.

official booksellers.

No reservations are made for prescribed books that are already out on loan. Students who have problems obtaining specific prescribed books from the booksellers should contact:


Open shelf books

Students may borrow all the books in the Open Shelf Collection except the reference books (e.g. dictionaries, encyclopaedias, bibliographies and atlases). Reference books are marked with the prefix REF before the number and may only be used in the Library.

Use the colour-code shelf guide, available on each floor, to determine the location of the books.

Reference collection

The reference collection is indicated by the letters REF in front of the classification number.

The items in the reference collection are to be used in the library and may not be taken out

Little used collection

The Little Used collection is located on level 1 of the Main Library and contains earlier editions of books that are no longer used regularly, discontinued journal titles and earlier issues of journals.