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University Library Australia
a national borrowing scheme for students and staff

Updated 18 August, 2008


Duration of registration
Borrower Delinquency
Level of access
Cost of registration
Discussion List
University Library Australia is a national borrowing scheme that allows all staff and students of all Australian universities to borrow in person from any other interstate university in Australia.  The scheme is a cooperative arrangement between CAUL member libraries.

ULA is a national scheme which complements existing regional borrowing schemes and is simple to use for both the borrower and the library staff. It aims for:

Procedures that minimise effort at home and host libraries
A free service to users (other than fees charged as penalties)
Home libraries indemnifying host libraries against problems
Service use recorded to assist future planning.
It is recommended that the guiding principles of this scheme, the vision of a free, open, simple national scheme, be considered by members of remaining regional borrowing schemes when reviewing local operations.

Host libraries retain the right to set local conditions of access, and local fees.

Potential users should check the FAQ for Borrowers to verify eligibility, host access conditions and registration conditions.


All students and staff from AVCC member universities. This will include inter alia:

a. distance education students
b. students based at remote campuses ie at a campus of a university whose main campus is in another state or another metropolitan area
ULA is not intended to supplant the home institution as the primary supplier of information resources. If there is evidence that the home institution is persistently under-supporting its students, the host institution may take this up at CAUL level.

Eligibility will be as wide as possible, until proven that it is unsustainable.

All universities should note the ACRL guidelines for services to distance education students


For students.
A photo ID and proof of current enrolment.

For staff.
A photo ID and proof of current employment/affiliation.

Both are needed to establish that the borrower is the person eligible to participate in the scheme. Affiliation eg visiting scholars, must be approved by the home university library; academic affiliation is not sufficient given that it is the library that is carrying the indemnity.

In some states, TAFE members of universities may be indistinguishable from the tertiary members. This is acknowledged but not considered to have any remarkable bearing on the program.

Libraries which issue cards will be responsible for the person who holds it.


If a borrower is eligible to register then he/she is indemnified by their home library.

The home library indemnifies, and will indemnify, the host institution for loss of, or damage to, library materials as a result of their students or staff borrowing from the other library.  The borrower is responsible for any penalties incurred.

Borrowers should be made aware that their personal details and details of their loans may be conveyed between home and host libraries.

Home or host institution registration.

Registration is completed at the host institution. The goal is for the borrower to walk into the host library and register "on the spot." Tthe time to complete the transaction is at the discretion of the host library. If registration cannot be completed immediately, then the borrower card will be mailed to the borrower, or may be collected at a later date if the borrower prefers.

A secondary goal is to reduce the involvement of library staff in the enrolment process.

Host libraries may wish to offer partial registration online.

Duration of registration.

The expiry date of all enrolments will be 28th February of the year following registration.

There will be no central block list.  A central block list has implications for borrower privacy, and imposes an unnecessary extra step in the registration process.

Host Library.
The host library will use normal means to manage overdue books by ULA borrowers.
All fines and charges are at the discretion of the host library.
Potential borrowers will be alerted to the fact that infringements at the host library may result in the imposition of sanctions in their home library.
The host library will notify the home library of their delinquent borrowers at least once a year, no later than 31st October.  This notification need contain no more information than that required to identify the borrower.
Host libraries need time to recover the missing books before the borrowers have left the control of their home university. It is assumed that they would prefer the book returned than the replacement costs received.

Home Library.
Home libraries need time to recover the missing books or the replacement costs from their students/staff while they still have some hold over them, to reduce the payments made on behalf of their own delinquent borrowers.
The home library may impose appropriate sanctions on their borrower.
Some institutions may not allow their library to sanction a student for borrowing activity at another library, however they should do so whenever allowable.
If the home library has paid the replacement costs of its member's lost book from a host library, and the book is subsequently found and returned, the matter should be pursued directly between the home library and the borrower. The host library has already done extra administrative paperwork to produce the invoice etc.
A home library would be expected to actively pursue their student/staff member before seeing it as a lost cause and parting with any money on their behalf to the host library. The onus should be on the home library to manage this.

Level of Access.

The host library will determine levels of access for ULA borrowers, ie numbers of loans and which collections are available to ULA borrowers, but it is recommended that access levels be commensurate with those of the equivalent home borrowers.

Host libraries should consider the impact of generous levels of access on the indemnity exposure of the home library.

Cost of Registration.

The original aim of ULA was to be fee-free for both registrations and loans as it was agreed that libraries are pre-competitive and should be considered a national resource. The imposition of charges of any kind imposes an additional administrative load, and consequent costs.

Notwithstanding the national guidelines, should a library choose to impose charges, these are imposed directly on the borrower registering at the host institution, as any recoup of these charges from the home library would impose an additional administrative load and consequent costs.

Some libraries now charge a $50 registration fee + GST.   Charging libraries are noted with an asterisk on the Participating Libraries page.

Fees are used in some regional borrowing schemes to deter registrations. It is not considered necessary for the ULA.   Link to Other Borrowing Schemes.


The minimum level of statistics to be maintained by the host library should include the number of:

a. registrations of ULA borrowers
b. loans to ULA borrowers
c. ULA registrants broken down by home institution
d. ULA loans broken down by the home institution
e. delinquent borrowers.
It is recognised that some Library systems are not easily able to identify borrowers by institution ‘type’, however this should be something all ULA participants aim to do whenever possible.

It is noted that loans data is not strictly comparable because of varying loan conditions such as loan period, but a comparison of loan data will show trends.


A web-site constitutes the primary infrastructure of the ULA and includes an FAQ for borrowers and Guidelines for library staff.

Additional comments for the FAQ should be forwarded to the ULA Working Group for action.  Once accepted the CAUL Office will add to the ULA web site.

Information about ULA should be clearly conveyed to library staff.

Discussion List.

A closed discussion list for staff of ULA institutions is accessible at 

Guidelines updated by ULA Working Group April, 2008

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This site is written, compiled and maintained by Diane Costello, Executive Officer, CAUL.