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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Simpson Library Orientation: Circulation

Circulation Policies and Procedures

The Circulation desk is where you go to check out, return, and renew items.

The loan period for most materials is 35 days or the end of the semester (whichever comes first).  Some types of items have shorter loan periods -- see the library's Borrowing Policies for details. Current periodicals, microforms, reference books, and Special Collection materials may not be checked out.

Your professors may choose to put certain items on reserve for a course. Items on reserve are kept behind the Circulation desk, and may be checked out for only a few hours at a time. Click here for more information about course reserves.


Circulation desk in Simpson Library

How do I find books on the shelf?

Each book has a unique call number, which you can find in the library catalog. The call number tells you where the book is shelved in UMW Libraries.

A location of “Stacks” indicates that the book is in the main collection of Simpson Library, and may be checked out. The Stacks are on the 2nd and 3rd floors, with different call numbers on each floor:


A through L: Third floor

M through Z: Second floor


Books with a location of “Reference” or a call number beginning with REFB are located in the Reference section, which is on the 1st floor, to the left of the Reference desk.

A location of “Stafford Campus” or “Stafford Stacks” indicates that the book is in the main collection of the Stafford Campus Library.

How do I find microforms?

Microforms are items printed at microscopic scale, to save space. Simpson Library has two types of microforms: microfilm and microfiche. Microfilm consists of long rolls of film; microfiche consists of small rectangular pieces of film.

In Simpson Library, microfiche and microfilm are kept in the cabinets on the first floor, to the left of the central stairs. Microfiche is in the red cabinets and microfilm is in the grey cabinets. Viewing machines for microfiche and microfilm are also located on the first floor. For assistance with the machines, please ask at the Circulation desk.



A magazine, journal, or newspaper -- anything that's published periodically.



A document printed at microscopic scale. Two types of microform are microfilm and microfiche. See below for more information.


"Reference books"

Books that are made up of short summary articles. An encyclopedia is an example of a reference book. These books are kept in the Reference section, which is located near the Reference desk.



Books that are kept behind the Circulation desk, and only lent out for a few hours (usually so that an entire class of students may take turns reading the book).



The shelves where we keep the books that you can check out. The Stacks are on the second and third floors.


"Special Collections"

A room on the second floor of the library that stores valuable materials, including rare books and the University archives. (More info here.)