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Admission to the University Library & Visitors Access

Access to the university library system

Student currently registered at the university, and staff employed by the university, including fixed period staff and retired staff with full retirement benefits, have access and borrowing privileges through student and staff cards. After retirement, staff should take their cards to the ICAM office for updating. No access charge.

Former University staff who have resigned or whose contracts have ended, and students who have de-registered before graduating, have no special status for access or borrowing privileges and are given ordinary visitor status unless they qualify as members of Convocation (see Alumni below).

Health Sciences

For information about access to the Witwatersrand Health Sciences Library, please use this link to go directly to the website or contact the library on 011 717-2348.

The information about library access given below does not apply at present to WHSL.

visitors and external users


Applications for access from external users are processed in the Wartenweiler Library on the East Campus unless otherwise indicated below, and permit holder access cards are physically processed by the ICAM office in the Senate House building on the East Campus.

Please refer to the University Library s Corporate User Schemes for organisational and institutional membership through the Engineering and Built Environment Libraries, the Law Library, the Wits Health Sciences Library and the Wits Library of Management.


Desk hours for applications in the Library are Monday-Friday 09:00-15:30 . No applications are processed in the Library or the ICAM office on Saturday mornings.

General Access

The University Library system offers access to its resources and facilities by permit card to individual external users and visitors in various categories. In every case the charge for an access card is R140, in addition to which a further fee is charged in various categories.

Borrowing privileges are limited to certain categories of permit holders only.

All charges and access fees are listed below.


Please Note that cards created for users at the ICAM office will be fully active within 24 hours after the card is made.

Categories of Access

  • Students intending to study for postgraduates degrees and wishing to preparing proposal although not yet registered, have 6 months access-only to the Library on presentation of a signed letter of introduction, on University School letterhead, from their future supervisors. Borrowing privileges are only available at the visitors? rates below
  • ALUMNI (Past Students and Graduates) of the university

Alumni should first contact the University Alumni Affairs office at (011) 717-1095. There is a card charge of R150. Access to the Library with this card is free of charge but a fee is charged at the Alumni Office on behalf of the Library for borrowing privileges (2 books at a time for 7 days at a time, renewable if requested and available). Borrowing privileges are only granted to full members of Convocation.

In February and March cards will not normally be fully active for borrowing in the Library until 5 working days after processing.

  • Postgraduate students and current staff from other South African universities (subject to the Committee for Higher Education Librarians of South Africa (CHELSA) agreement):

A standard letter of introduction signed by the Head of Library Services (not by the head of department, school or faculty) at the home institution is required by all registered Masters and Doctoral students and all staff applying to use the Library. The letter of introduction should state that the student or staff member is in good standing in their home library and that the home library takes full responsibility for any material borrowed and losses incurred, and should indicate the degree and field of study. Students registered for an Honours degree are not normally given access unless there is a formal agreement between the University Library and their home institution.

The borrowing period is 7 days for all items. There is a card charge of R140.00 but no access fee.

Cards will be fully active for loans in the Library within 24 hours after processing.

  • Visiting lecturers, researchers, postdoctoral students and persons formally associated with a school or research entity that is part of the university

Access and borrowing privileges depend on individual status and length of stay in the University School or Research Entity. A letter of introduction on an official letterhead, signed by the Wits University head of the school or research unit, accepting responsibility for all loans and any penalties incurred by the visitor, is required where a person is not on the University payroll or is only claim paid. There is a card charge of R140 but no access fee. Borrowing privileges are available. Please inquire through the Library using contact details given below.

  • Visitors without formal links to the university.
  • de-registered students;
  • members of staff who have resigned and are not eligible to be members of Convocation (please consult the Alumni Affairs Office see above) ;
  • students and staff from countries outside South Africa on vacation or private study visits;
  • private researchers and authors; and
  • Members of the general public whose information needs cannot be met by the public library system and interlending system.

Access cards for periods ranging from 1 day to 1 year are available at the scale of fees given below, plus a card charge of R140.00.

A "one-time, one day only" introductory or casual visitors R200.00 refundable access card is also available, please inquire at the Library. A register is kept to ensure once-only access is not abused.

Borrowing privileges are not normally extended to private visitors.

  • Learners (pre-tertiary educational institutions)

The University Library does not provide information services to learners at pre-tertiary institutions, whose information needs should be addressed by school and public libraries.

No access cards will be issued to learners.

Occasional access, for groups of learners accompanied by a member of school staff for specific purposes, may be granted at the discretion of branch librarians or senior librarians, by advance arrangement only. Please contact relevant campus libraries.

External user fees in the Library

The Library has over the years developed a number of categories of paying external users to whom it offers access and, in a very few categories, loan privileges. Access includes in-library access to electronic resources.

These fees are publicly available on the Library website under Services – Admission to Libraries and Visitor Access. These fees do not apply to the Health Sciences Library at present.





Visiting researcher

1-day card, in-Library access only


+R140 refundable non-picture ICAM card

R205 (R140 refundable on hand-back of ICAM card)

Visiting researcher

1-week card, in-Library access only


+R140 personal ICAM picture card


Visiting researcher

1-month card, in-Library access only


+R140 personal ICAM picture card


Visiting researcher

1- year card, in- Library access only


+R140  personal ICAM picture card


Member of convocation

6-month card/1year card if borrowing required (2 items @ 7 days loan)

Annual fee by application to the Office of Alumni Affairs West Campus


non-refundable fee+

Alumnus picture ICAM card


Alumni Affairs office


011 717-1091/92/93

Visiting researchers and prospective Wits post-graduates  (very restricted)

6-month card/1-year card if borrowing required (2 items @ 7 days loan)


+R140 personal ICAM picture card



1 - Retired members of University staff retain full free library privileges.

2 – Visiting lecturers and researchers in schools and research entities who are not on the University payroll are given a category of free access and borrowing privileges, with signed responsibility for loans undertaken by the host school or entity.

3 – In terms of the Committee for Higher Education Librarians of South Africa, CHELSA, agreement between South African HE libraries, reciprocal access and loan privileges for postgraduates and members of staff are free. Only the cost of the ICAM card is charged.

4 – Persons wishing to use the University Library to prepare research proposals before registering for Wits postgraduate degrees may pay for private borrower status if they produce a letter from the head of school.

Further Information

Please address all external user inquiries to (011) 717-1943 or (011) 717-1935.

For more detail or problems related to external access to the University Library, please contact the Deputy University Librarian or the Manager: Client Services, Janet Zambri [janet.zambri(at)].

Access policy approved by the Senate Library Committee 25 August 2003; fee increase approved by Senate Library Committee 3 February 2006; Card loss increase by ICAM December 2006

Corporate Membership

Corporate membership schemes of various sizes and at various tariffs are available through the Law Library, the .

Inquiries regarding admission should be directed to the following people in these libraries:

Law Library:

Constance Sithole, Law Librarian, constance.sithole(at)
Tel: 27 11 717-8506

Wits Library of Management:

Nabisa Mbali, Management Librarian, nabisa.mbali(at)
Tel: 27 11 717-3638

Witwatersrand Health Sciences Library (WHSL):

Devind Peter, devind.peter(at)
Tel: 27 11 717-2050/2348