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Interlibrary loans

If you need an item that you can't access online or in print, we can try to get it for you from another library.

Request an interlibrary loan

Please note:

If you need more than one article / chapter from the same publication, please request the whole item instead to comply with copyright regulations.

If your request is for commercial / funded research or is to be included on the VLE, you must select "Yes" for copyright clearance. We will contact you with cost details and, if you wish to proceed, we will ask you to supply a cost code.

Frequently asked questions about interlibrary loans

Masters students can request up to 10 items during their course.
Staff, PhD, EngD and MPhil students can request up to 30 items each year.

Most single articles, papers, and reports are emailed to you as PDFs via the British Library's On Demand Service. You will need to create an account with the On Demand Service to open and print your document. The file will have certain copyright and usage restrictions. Please read our instructions for more information: 

Printed books, whole journals and conference proceedings will be loaned to you for a period set by the lending library (this cannot be exceeded). We will let you know when the print item has arrived.

Occasionally a loan is supplied as a photocopy or PDF (which you may keep), or as a reference-only item (which must stay in the Library building).

No, we pay the basic charge for each item you request.  However, if you require a copy for commercial purposes we will pay the standard cost and your department is expected to cover the additional copyright fee charged by the British Library.  You will need to provide a cost code.

A Secure Encrypted Document (SED) is a PDF which has certain copyright and usage restrictions set on it.
The British Library’s On Demand Service uses SEDs to supply individual journal articles, conference papers and reports you have requested through our interlibrary loans service.

You will be able to open the SED via the link in the email for 30 days after the date of supply. You can access it unlimited times during this period from multiple devices. After that time the link will automatically expire and you will lose access to the document, unless you have saved it to a machine or device.

You can only download and save the document once. You will then have access to the saved file for three years from the date of supply. After this time it will also expire and you will be locked out of the article permanently.

You may print only one copy. You must not make further copies either in print or electronically, or convert the file into any other format. You may not cut and paste or otherwise alter the text.

Find out more about how to open an SED  supplied by the British Library

If the item is supplied in hard copy, such as a book, whole journal issue or whole conference proceedings, then the loan period is decided by the lending library. It must be returned to us within the time limit or you will risk being invoiced for the cost from the lending library. For British Library items the minimum charge is £140 per item.

It may be possible to renew items but there will be a charge to you or your department to do this. Please contact us if you wish to extend your loan period and we will ask the lending library on your behalf.

Items supplied through the British Library’s On Demand Service will be sent to your email inbox as soon as we receive them, and so you will receive them faster than paper photocopies or printed loan items.

In many cases it takes less than a week for a printed interlibrary loan to be delivered to us from another library. However, a request can take longer if the item is already on loan to another user, or if the item is hard to find.

We use the British Library’s On Demand Service to supply items by email wherever possible.

We can usually post print interlibrary loan items (books, whole conference proceedings or whole journal issues) to you if you are based in the UK or ROI.

We will email you when your interlibrary loan arrives, and ask you to confirm your address if you want us to post it to you. We will use the Royal Mail's Special Delivery service. You will need to sign for the parcel when it arrives, so somebody must be available at the receiving address. You might prefer to use your work address. Please use the same service to return them to us, as you will be insured for any loss or damage. Items are your responsibility until they are safely returned to us.

We are unable to send interlibrary loan books overseas.

Some libraries will only supply books to us for reference use only and so they cannot leave the Library building.

It is against copyright law to copy more than one article per issue of a journal, or more than one conference paper per volume of a conference. If you need more than one item from the same publication, please request the whole book, journal or conference proceedings, and we will borrow the item for you from another library instead.

A Copyright Declaration Form is automatically generated at the bottom of all interlibrary loan requests. You must complete the form to comply with UK copyright law.
By ticking the box “Is your request for private study?” you agree to abide by the conditions of the 'The Copyright And Related Rights Regulations 2003'. You are confirming that your request is for a non-commercial purpose or for private study, and that you will not supply a copy to any other person.

If your request is for commercial purposes, tick “Yes” in the section titled “Do you need copyright clearance?” For more information about this, read our FAQ below: "What should I do if my interlibrary loan request is for commercial purposes?”

You will need to tick the “Do you need copyright clearance?” section at the bottom of the interlibrary loan request form.
A member of our Document Supply Service team will then request the item under the British Library's Copyright Cleared service. This is a more expensive service - the library will cover the cost of a standard interlibrary loan, but any cost above this will need to be met by your department.

Once you have completed the electronic request form, we will contact you to let you know how much the request will cost (the cost will differ according to the publication). If you wish to go ahead with the request you will need to supply the cost code that is to be debited. We will not charge for clearance under £3.00.

Contact us

Please get in touch if you need help with interlibrary loans.

Cranfield site:
Shrivenham site: