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Libraries - Frequently Asked Questions

You are welcome into any of our libraries to use the Internet, read a newspaper or carry out research. If you register you can also borrow books, ebooks, CDs and DVDs.

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What ID do I need to join the library?

You will need to show us two proofs of identity, one showing your signature and one showing your current address.

These proofs of identity are acceptable:

  • driving licence
  • recent bank statement (no more than two months old)
  • Council Tax bill
  • tenancy agreement
  • recent utility, telephone or credit card bill (no more than two months old)
  • credit card
  • bank card
  • store card
  • passport

Can I see the library catalogue online?

You can use the online library catalogue to search for books, CDs or DVDs; or to reserve or renew items.

How many items can I borrow?

Adults can borrow up to 20 books, 10 DVDs and 10 CDs. Under-18s can borrow up to 20 books and 10 CDs.

In addition you can borrow up to four ebooks from our eBooks.

You can borrow books and CDs for three weeks and DVDs for one week. You have to pay a charge to borrow DVDs and CDs, but books are free.

For an annual fee of £50, you can borrow up to 10 DVDs or CDs (two weeks for DVDs, four weeks for CDs), with no additional loan charges.

How can I renew items?

You can renew books using the online library catalogue as long as you know your library barcode and four-digit PIN. Ask a member of library staff if you do not know your PIN.

You can renew or return loans from any of Reading's libraries at any branch, regardless of where they were issued. You can also renew your items by phone.

You can renew items up to five times as long as they have not been reserved by another user.

Can you remind me when my loans are due?

Reminders are sent out to everyone three weeks after the due date by post or email. Phone or visit any branch to renew items.

You can log in to see the status of your loans on the 'renew items' tab of the online library catalogue.

If you have trouble remembering when the items you have borrowed are due back you might want to register with Library Elf. They are a private company who will send you out an alert reminding you to return or renew your items.

Can I reserve items?

You can reserve books, CDs and DVDs from the library. Children's books and audiovisual items are free to request, but we charge 50p per item to reserve books from the adult section.

If you want to reserve an item you can do it at any branch, by phone or online. If you log into the online library catalogue you will need to search for the item you want and then select 'Request earliest available copy'. You will have to pay the 50p reservation charge when you next visit the library.


What are your charges?

We have produced a detailed list of our pdf icon library charges [78kb] for you to refer to.

Do you run any activities for children in the libraries?

We run lots of activities for children. Have a look on our branch pages and the News and Events page to find out more.

Do you run any activities for adults in the libraries?

We run lots of regular activities for adults, including coffee mornings, craft groups and talks by authors, amongst other things. Have a look at the branch information and the News and Events page to find out more.

Can you help me find out about local and family history?

Central Library has a Local Studies collection on the second floor. This contains books, photographs, newspapers, maps, magazines, newsletters and ephemera from all around Berkshire.

We provide a research service for people who are unable to visit the library. You can contact the research team here or call on 0118 901 5950. The details of fees for this service and others are in our pdf icon Local Studies charges factsheet. [107kb]

You can order illustrations using our order form.

Are your services accessible?

Elderly, Infirm and Disabled

All our libraries are fully accessible to wheelchair users.

If you live in Reading and have difficulty visiting your library, you can request our mobile library service

Blind and Visually Impaired

If you are blind or visually impaired we do not charge for audio book loans.

Services for book groups or other groups

We run a number of book groups for adults and children, and two writing groups. You can find out details about when they happen and where they are in our pdf icon book group information leaflet. [59kb]

We have over 150 titles in our book club collection. You can use the online catalogue to see the selection of book group sets available.

Choose a member of your group to be the 'named user' and register your book group at Central Library. If the named user lives outside Reading the group will have to pay £5 per set borrowed. To reserve a set, please complete the request form. For any other enquiries, please email

We also offer drama and vocal sets for drama groups and choirs. Contact Central Library for further details.

Can I use the Internet for free in the libraries?

Library members can access the Internet for free at all Reading libraries. You must have your library ticket with you to use this service.

Children under eight will only be allowed Internet access when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Children and teenagers under the age of 14 will need written parental permission to use the Internet before they can use it in the library.

These free terminals offer a limited service, allowing you to view websites, email and print (for which there is a small charge). You can only use the Internet for a maximum of two hours a day. You will be automatically logged out 10 minutes before the library closes. 

Is there wifi in the libraries?

Wifi is available in all our libraries. You will need a library card to log in.

Can I volunteer at a library?

If you have some spare time and would like to volunteer there are a number of ways you can help:

Library Rhymetimes

If you help at Rhymetime sessions you will be welcoming customers and directing them with their buggies, helping distribute scarves and musical instruments and monitoring the number of people attending the sessions. Ask staff at your local branch for more information.

Toy Library Service

If you want to help out with the Toy Library, at Southcote Library, you could help us keep the toys clean and tidy. The Toy Library is open Tuesday mornings, Thursday afternoons and Saturdays. For more information please contact us at Southcote Library on 0118 901 5109 or pick up an application form at Central Library.

Mobile Library Service

If you would like to support housebound customers you could choose books for them, deliver them and maybe have a coffee or a chat whilst you are there. If you have a few hours to spare to support this valuable service, please contact Andrew Mitchell on 0118 901 5112 or the Mobile Service on 0118 901 5118.

Contact the library

Use our branch pages to find your local library or contact us online. 

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