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Interlibrary loans

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

Requests can be made for:

  • Books
  • Book chapters (one chapter per book to comply with copyright law)
  • Journal articles (one article per issue to comply with copyright law)
  • Theses
  • A paper from a conference, or a whole conference proceeding
  • A technical report or standard.

Please make sure you have used Library Search before you ask us to locate a copy for you.

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.
If you near or reach your limit and would like to request additional loans, please contact us.

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: 

Opening Secure Encrypted Documents

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.

The British Library’s On Demand Service supplies individual journal articles, conference papers and reports you have requested through our interlibrary loans service as Secure Encrypted Documents (SEDs). An SED is a PDF which is sent to you by email.

You will need to register for a British Library ‘On Demand’ account before you first open a document that has been sent to you. You must also ensure the device you are using to download your document has Adobe Reader 10 (or above) installed on it. You will need to wait for 15 minutes after you have registered for your account before you try to open a document for the first time. This time period is required for the systems to synchronise.

There are a certain copyright and usage restrictions set on SEDS, such as when you can open them, how long you can access them, and how you can download, print and save them.

Find out more about how to open and use 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.

It is not possible to give a firm guide on how long a request will take to arrive and therefore please place your print requests as early as possible. If you have any questions please contact the Library.

Bear in mind also that 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?”

It is the responsibility of the person making or requesting the copy to decide whether or not its ultimate use is commercial. In this context, ‘commercial’ is taken to mean any use for which the primary purpose is the generation of money. Thus, a student thesis written for a company might well result in subsequent income generation for that company, but as its primary purpose at the time of writing is academic, it could be argued that it is not 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.

If we are unable to find a loanable copy of the item you require, we will let you know. We will also consider whether we are able to purchase a copy for the library collection. Please note that items such as case studies, AV materials, computer software, archival materials, auction items and individual website subscriptions will need to be funded by the requester or the requester’s department.

In general, eBooks cannot be loaned due to license restrictions. If this is the case, we will contact both you and your course or research Librarian, as they may be able to help you find alternatives or consider whether we are able to purchase a copy for the library collection.
It may be possible to request a single chapter of an eBook. (Due to copyright, we cannot request more than one chapter.) If this would meet your needs, please place a request for the chapter providing the necessary details.

Contact us

Please email if you need help with interlibrary loans.