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FAQs on the University Library's new Library Management System

Last Updated October 12, 2021

The library has implemented a modern web-based Library Management System and converted the! to a new technical platform.

Answers to the most frequently asked questions can be found here.

General Information

The library management system is the central administration software for controlling essential core processes in a modern scientific library: lending, renewal, reservation of media, user data administration and personal lending account, fee and reminder processes, acquisition of new electronic and physical media, cataloging and proof of holdings in the local library catalog as well as other reference systems, statistical evaluation of processes.

In short, the library management system is the backbone of the library.

As part of the state's Digital University Initiative and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science, more than 40 university libraries in North Rhine-Westphalia are replacing their local library management systems with a modern web-based system (Alma) by 2023.

The University Library, along with five other university libraries, is among the first institutions to start using the new system on April 27, 2021. With the change of the library management system, the! for researching books, articles and web documents, as well as the personal loan account were also switched to a new technical platform (open source software VuFind).


My Data

Your personal data can only be maintained in the PRISMA portal and not in the Loan Account. In the PRISMA portal you can change the email address for communication with the library (Account overview -> Library card -> Contact email address (library)) or the web password you need to log in to the Loan Account (Passwords -> Web (Shibboleth)). For students and employees of Bielefeld University, the web password is also used for other services (e.g. the eKVV).

Use the "Forgot password?" function on the PRISMA portal login page. Please note that you must check "Select all", otherwise only the password for the PRISMA access will be changed, but not for the web password.

External users can also contact the Central Lending Department of the library.



The UniID is your new and permanent personal identification also in the library. You use the UniID to log in to the Loan Account and other library services or to make inquiries to the library.

The UniID is printed on the front of your UniCard.

You use the web password for web authentication with Shibboleth (logging in to the borrowing account, interlibrary loan order) and your PRISMA password for logging in to the PRISMA portal (e.g. when changing the email address for communication with the library).

To log in to your personal loan account, use web authentication with Shibboleth.

Students and employees of Bielefeld University use the BITS user name or the matriculation number or UniID and the web password to log in. As a rule, this is the password that is also valid for the PRISMA portal.

External users use the UniID and the web password to log in. As a rule, this is the password that is also valid for the PRISMA portal.

You also use the web authentication with Shibboleth when ordering books or articles via interlibrary loan or when reserving media in the!


Borrowing, Renewing, Reserving

After logging in to your account, you can access your borrowed media and renewal options via the navigation item "Checked out items" in the right margin.

Here you have two options to renew your media.

  • You can check the checkbox in front of each item and renew the titles individually.
  • You select the button "Renew All Items".

As soon as one of your media cannot be renewed, you will receive the general note directly at the top of the display: "Some of your media cannot be extended because the total loan period has been reached or there are reservations".

You will find out which media cannot be renewed and for what reason after you have renewed or attempted to renew the media, at the individual media itself.

If a reservation has been made for your item, you will see the message "This item cannot be renewed because it has been reserved".

If the maximum lending period has been reached, you will see the message "The lending period could not be extended" for the title.

For each item you will find the date of loan. This is the day when you borrowed the item for the first time. Below that you will find the current return date. This allows you to calculate independently whether your total loan period is about to expire.

The total loan periods are:

Loan period 30 days - Total loan period 180 days

Loan period 15 days - total loan period 85 days


When all available copies of a title are checked out, you no longer have to decide which copy to reserve for yourself. You simply place a hold and receive the first copy returned. You cannot place a hold until all the copies available to you have been checked out. It is no longer possible to reserve multiple copies of the same title for yourself.

A reservation is only possible in the new system if all copies have been borrowed. So when the message is displayed to you, there is still one available copy in the library and you can come by to borrow it.

No. If a book is available in the library, you can take it from the shelf and check it out at the Self-Service Units. Reservations are not possible and are not necessary during the corona pandemic.

If you still have a valid barcode ID card as your library card, you can continue to use it. With a barcode ID card, however, you can only borrow media at the Circulation Desks. Only the return of items is possible at the self-checkout terminal.

To log in to the Loan Account, you can also use web authentication with Shibboleth (see section Login).

When applying for a UniCard as a service card or student ID, this also includes the function as a library card and replaces the previous barcode ID.

Fees and Charges

The loan account is automatically blocked when open charges of 50 EUR or more have been incurred. Borrowing is then no longer possible. Media that have already been borrowed can be renewed within the applicable loan periods. As soon as the fees have been paid in full or in part and the total of outstanding fees falls below 50 EUR again, the account is automatically unlocked.

The maximum loan period is no longer determined by the number of possible renewals, but there is a total loan period measured by calendar days. Within this period, renewals are possible as long as the item is not reserved elsewhere. Each renewal extends the loan period by an additional 30 or 15 days, but not beyond the total loan period. Therefore, always pay attention to the new return date when renewals are made so that no fees are incurred.

You can pay late fees, interlibrary loan fees and postage fees by bank transfer. The bank details are:

Universität Bielefeld

Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen

IBAN: DE 46 3005 0000 061036


Reason for payment (please specify):
12100301 + the ID number of your library or student card.

Literature Searching

To open an e-book or e-journal, you must either access the resource from a computer in the library or be connected via VPN. Students and employees of the university can download the VPN client here.

Open the detail page of the e-book or e-journal and click on the link under Online Access. You will be redirected to the publisher's website.

If you find a title in Articles and more that you would like to read, you always have to check if the source can be found in the library catalogue and is therefore in the library's collection. If the source you are looking for cannot be found in the library catalogue, you can order it via interlibrary loan.

Using the checkbox to the left of the hit number, you can mark a title and then use the links above to send a link to the hit list by e-mail, export the bibliographic information to a literature management system, and save, print, or add the items to "Save to List" or "Add to Book Bag". You can add individual hits to your favorites (or to a list you have created yourself) via the link "Save to List". These favorites are permanently available to you after logging in via the link "Log in (loan account)". The "Book Bag" in the! will be deleted if you do not save it and create or select a list for it. Only then can you view the list via your own account.

Services for academic and non-academic staff of the university

Yes, academic and non-academic staff of the university can borrow present media in all departmental libraries. This does not apply to journals and loose-leaf publications. Due to the Corona pandemic, it was possible for academic and non-academic staff to borrow items from the library on a permanent basis. Previously, this was only possible in some subject libraries.

The loan period for present media is 15 days. If there are no other reservations, extensions are possible up to a maximum total loan period of 65 days.

Media marked as strictly present in the catalogue may be borrowed for 1 day. An extension is not possible.


Professors and research assistants who are in possession of a UniCard can grant permanent authorization to up to 3 persons (e.g. assistants or secretarial staff) to borrow media from the library on their behalf. A separate ID card is no longer required for this purpose, as the authorized person(s) will be activated in the library management system for the lending account of the person granting the authorization.

You declare which person you would like to authorize via an authorization form. The authorized person presents the form at the Central Lending Department and identifies himself/herself with his/her UniCard in order to register the permanent authorization. If the permanent authorization is to be revoked, please inform the Central Lending Department.

The authorized person must identify himself/herself with his/her own UniCard when borrowing items on behalf of the library. You will receive a loan or return receipt by email for loan transactions and returns, which also shows who carried out the action.

Using the permanent authorization, local and interlibrary loan media can be borrowed and returned at the lending terminal or at the terminal of the Central Lending Department, or reservations can be picked up. Only the return of items is possible at the self-service terminal.

Existing duplicate ID cards for borrowing on order can continue to be used during a transitional period until the end of 2021. Borrowing is also now only possible at the circulation terminal. Returns can also be made at the Self-Service Units. New secondary ID cards will no longer be issued.

Who can I contact with further questions and problems?

Please feel free to contact the Reference Department with any questions regarding literature searches and literature acquisition. Consultation hours: Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. - via chat, by e-mail and by phone (0521/106-4114). You are welcome to arrange a consultation as a video conference with us.

For questions about Library Cards, Interlibrary Loan, Fees and Charges, please contact the Central Lending Department.

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