When to apply

If you consider an item to be of potential importance to your research, teaching or course, and it is not held by the Albert Sloman Library, you are welcome to use the Library’s inter-library loan service.

Please be selective in what you request as, excluding staff costs, the Library pays a minimum of £7 per inter-library loan requested, with certain items obtained from abroad costing £15 to £35. The Library does not charge students for making inter-library loan requests, although there is a charge of £4.65 for renewals.

It is important to allow sufficient time when requesting inter-library loans as it can take several weeks or longer in a few instances to obtain items. All inter-library loan requests are processed promptly and many come within two weeks.

How to apply

Check our library catalogue first of all. We can not apply for items held by the Library, but those which are officially missing or have had pages torn out can be requested. Where this is the case, please specify this on your request.

Fill in one interlibrary loan request form for each item required (e.g., a journal article, a chapter of a book). These materials will usually arrive as electronic copies which you will be able to print out and keep. On some occasions it may not be possible to supply a particular article electronically. In these cases, a photocopy will be supplied instead.

Many UK Higher Education Theses are now available from the British Library's EThOS website at . If you wish to consult a UK thesis, you can search the EThOS database to see whether it is available for download. If it is not immediately available, you may be able to request that it is digitised at no cost to you. However, for some theses there may be a cost (£40) involved in the digitisation of the thesis. If you wish to pay this yourself then you can go ahead and ask for the thesis to be digitised. It will then be freely available for other researchers to download from EThOS. Alternatively you can contact the Inter-library loans department who will get in touch with the institution directly to see whether they will loan the thesis or not. You can search the EThOS database without registering, but if you want to download a thesis or request that it is digitised, you will need to register. Various other options for delivery of the theses are available at a cost to the researcher and are displayed below the record for each thesis when you login. For non-UK theses and UK theses that do not appear on the EThOS database, please complete an inter-library loan request as usual.

How to fill in the form

Please give as much information as you can when filling out a request form. BOLD=ESSENTIAL

Books - Author/Editor, Title, publisher, date and place of publication, volume number if multi-volume work, series title, International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Journal Articles - Journal title, article author, title, date, volume/part number, publisher, pages of article, where journal published, International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

Conference Paper - Title of conference proceedings, organiser/sponsor, date held, venue, publisher, date published, volume number, author(s) and title of paper required, pages of paper, ISBN/ISSN

Thesis/dissertation - Author, title, awarding institution, level of thesis, date, Dissertation Abstracts UMI order number.

What happens next?

Requests for articles, papers and chapters are usually supplied electronically in the form of an email containing a link to an electronic copy of the article as a PDF file. If this is the case, we will include instructions on how to open the file. If you have any problems opening a request, just contact us at

For loan items, we will let you know by email when your item arrives. These are borrowed from and returned to the Library Helpdesk on the ground floor. Please bring your library/registration card, as this is necessary to borrow interlibrary loans.

If we need any more information from you regarding your request, or there is a delay for any reason, we will be in touch via email.

Electronic delivery FAQs

How long do electronic Documents take to arrive?

Depending on the availability of an article or chapter, some requests can arrive within hours. Generally, it is within 2 or 3 days of when we request them, however in some cases, where a request is harder to track down it could take longer, but this is in only a small number of cases.

How will electronic documents be delivered?

The majority of article and chapter requests can be fulfilled by the British Library, who use the 'DRM Lite' system, which is explained in more detail below. Others may arrive with a URL and password to access a PDF of your request, others may simply be sent to you as a PDF attachment.

How will my article arrive?

In order to streamline the ILL delivery process as much as possible (and get your requests to you as quickly as we can) we will now deliver all eligible documents electronically. As such, we will no longer print electronically borne documents to send to departments or home addresses.

Please note that some documents are delivered in paper format, and for these items we will ask you for your preference of delivery method. They will be available to collect from the library, can be sent to departments via internal mail or posted out to a home address. If we do not hear from you regarding your delivery preference, we will send the document to the address we have on file (for students, your term-time address).

What is DRM Lite?

Digital rights management (DRM) secures documents, making sure that they comply with copyright law. It is applied to all documents delivered electronically from the British Library. Previously, to access these documents, it was necessary to download external plugins, and documents were linked to an individual PC after download. This caused problems and frustrations for users, which is why the British Library has now developed DRM Lite, which you have been able to use from February 2017.

With DRM Lite, there is no need to install plugins or software onto your device. As long as you have internet access and Adobe Reader 10 or above you can access and download your documents.

You will be able to open your requested articles and chapters on multiple devices, as they will be locked to a user account rather than a device. To do this, you are required to set up an account with the British Library. Details of how to do this are given below.

How to register for a BL account

Click here to go to the registration page.

How to open documents


If you’re having problems accessing your article check the following:

If you are still experiencing problems, or have any other questions, please get in touch with the Interlibrary Loans team:

Your responsibility for the interlibrary loan

A minority of the items for borrowing that we receive are only for use within the Albert Sloman Library and must not be taken out of the building under any circumstances. Please respect the lending conditions set by the library that sent us the book, including signing the copyright declaration form within theses and dissertations.

A fine of £4.65 will be charged on books that are returned more than 4 days late.
Loans are usually for a minimum of three weeks, and can be as much as fifteen. We will try to renew interlibrary loan books if this is required – you will be a charged £4.65 per renewal for this service. However, renewal cannot be guaranteed, as it is at the discretion of the lending Library. You should be aware that all interlibrary loans are subject to recall by us and we can not guarantee the full loan period, if the lending library asks for the item back for another user.

If the item borrowed is returned extremely late, damaged or is lost, then we are obliged to pass on any costs set by the lending library as soon as we receive an invoice from them. In the case of the British Library, from where we receive a majority of our interlibrary loans, there is a minimum replacement charge of £100 to which we add an administrative charge of at least £6.