COVID-19 Frequently asked questions
See Our libraries for our remote services and on-site opening hours.
If your query is not covered by the FAQ below, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My library account
How do I return my books?
All our libraries are now open and you can borrow and return books in person. Please check Our libraries page for our opening hours before you travel.
If you are unable to visit the library during these times, you can return your library books using the library’s external returns slot.
My book has been recalled, do I need to return it?
Imperial users will be able to place requests on books from the 30th of September. If a book you have on loan has been recalled, please return it within a week. If you are unable to return recalled books, please contact the email@example.com
How can I access books if I am unable to come to campus?
Talk to your tutor and your librarian to discuss your library needs, and to find out which materials are available digitally. See also our FAQs on Finding and accessing books and online resources below.
How do I return an iPad or laptop?
To return a library iPad or laptop please visit during our opening times and pass them to a member of library staff.
Please check Our libraries page for our opening hours before you travel.
Can I place a request for a book that is out on loan?
From 30th September 2020 you will once again be able to place requests for items. If you need a specific book before then, please contact your librarian who may be able to find an electronic version or a suitable alternative.
Visiting our libraries
Is the library open during the lockdown?
All our libraries are open for Imperial students, staff and NHS members.
Staff-serviced hours and opening times may change at short notice. Please see Our Libraries
Can I register for membership of the Library?
Unfortunately, we are not able to process general applications for membership at the present time. This also applies to alumni, local institutions and SCONUL members, as well as members of the public.
However, if you are a member of NHS staff please email your librarian who will be able to create an account for you.
Do I need to get a COVID-19 test before visiting the Library?
Imperial is running a COVID-19 testing scheme for staff and students who are asymptomatic. If you are attending campus you should book a test.
What is the traffic light system and how does it work?
The traffic light system at the library entrance is designed to prevent overcrowding. Green means there is plenty of space, Amber means you can come in, but be mindful of social distancing and considerate of others. Red means that we have the maximum number of users in the building for safe social distancing, and you will need to return later to use the space.
Why can't I come down the stairs or share the lift?
We have a one-way entrance-exit system in place to avoid crowding and contact. The stairs may only be used to go up. To leave the building, please follow signs on each floor for the back exits of the library. Only one person at a time may use the lifts, so please be patient, be kind, and give priority to people with mobility issues. Remember that not all disabilities are visible.
Can I still use the library if I forget my mask?
Please try and keep a mask with you at all times on campus, for everyone's safety. If you forget, we have a limited number of single-use masks at the Information Hub. Please ensure any mask covers both your nose and mouth, and only uncover your face to eat or drink.
I am exempt from wearing a face mask. Will this be an issue?
You are welcome to use the library if you cannot wear a mask. Please let staff know you have an exemption (you do not need to give specific details) and if you have an exemption badge or card, please show this. While in the library, please be mindful of social distancing and hand-washing precautions. Ask staff if you need any help.
Can I access library PCs?
Imperial students, staff and NHS members are able to access library PCs now that our libraries are open for socially distanced study.
Can I book a group study room?
Please use a designated breakout space around campus to collaborate. Central Library is now for silent study so please do not use any desk that is marked with a ‘x’. If you require an individual study room, use our Library Bookings form.
For campus libraries, please see their individual webpages to find out more about group study areas.
Why isn’t the library open 24 hours?
Our library buildings are closed overnight for deep cleaning, an important part of ensuring that your study environment is safe.
Finding and accessing books and online resources
Can you help me with remote access to e-books and e-journals?
Yes, see Accessing online resources from outside an Imperial campus for help and support or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I get a book that is on my reading list?
We are unable to supply print books but may be able to find and electronic version for you. Please contact your librarian for help.
How do I get the textbook I need for my exams?
If you do not have the textbook you need for your exams, we may be able to find an electronic version for you, please contact your librarian for help.
Can I still order books and other items from the Document Delivery Service?
We are unable to supply print books, conference proceedings, and journal volumes from other libraries. However we will continue to process requests and will aim to provide items electronically wherever possible.
How do I use journal articles and e-book chapters safely in my online teaching
It is important to adhere to UK copyright legislation when using materials in your online teaching. To assist you we have created COVID-19: copyright and licensing tips for online teaching.
Can NHS staff join the Library?
Yes. If you are a member of NHS staff please email your librarian who will be able to create a library and ICT account for you.
What critical care resources are available?
We know that many NHS staff are being asked to work in critical care for the first time and need resources to support this. The Oxford Medicine Online Collection contains a number of high quality e-books on critical care.
Can I request an evidence based search?
We also recommend signing up to KnowledgeShare to receive tailored updates from high quality evidence sources on COVID-19 and any other clinical or professional area of interest.
How do I access e-books, e-journals and databases?
Medical/NHS-relevant resources to which the College subscribes are available through Open Athens.
We are also offering a special service to send NHS staff articles and e-book chapters that would normally only be available by using an Imperial College London PC in one of our libraries, see Support for NHS staff for further details.