Inter Library Loans

Inter Library Loans
What is Inter Library Loan?

Inter Library Loans 

What is the Inter Library Loan Service? 

Inter Library Loans is a special service which helps staff and students obtain material that is not held by the University of Aberdeen's Library. Through the national Inter Library Loan network the Library is able to borrow items and obtain scans from other libraries in the United Kingdom and abroad. 

Who can use the service? 

The Inter Library Loan service is available to all staff and students at the University of Aberdeen. The Library covers the cost of this service. Please be aware that we incur an individual charge for all physical items, so we reserve the right to limit the number of free requests per individual if items are requested and not collected. 

The Library receives a small number of requests for items from overseas; these will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and may incur a charge. We will contact you for further information in these instances. 

External members of the library may also use this service but will be required to purchase vouchers to pay for requests, as may corporate members. Further information about charge is available under the Inter Library Loan charges tab.

What does the service cover? 

Items that may be requested; books, reports, theses (see also EThOS), copies of patents or standards, orchestral scores, issues of periodicals or articles. 

Before you submit a request 

Please make sure that you have checked Primo before you submit a request. When checking for journal articles remember to check the Coverage in Primo. This is a statement indicating the volumes and years held by the library and appears as follows: 


Library holds Library has v. 1, no.1 (May 1970)-v. 18, no.4 (1987) 

EThOS Thesis Service

The British Library EThos service provides a national record of doctoral theses awarded by UK Higher Education institutions. There are approximately 500,000 records on this database and around 260,000 full-text theses.

It is possible to order scans of print only theses via the digitisation-on-demand service offered by the British Library, however this can incur a charge of up to £40. If a particular doctoral thesis is not available in electronic format you can submit an Inter Library Loan request to try to borrow the printed copy.

Further information is available on the EthOS website.

ProQuest Theses must be applied for directly by the individual:

The Copyright Directive 

Legislation from the European Parliament, means that requests for copies can only be processed if the end user has signed a declaration that the copy is for private study or research that is not for a commercial purpose. For more details see the British Library website

Any reader who feels that he/she cannot in good faith sign this declaration can get in touch with us (Inter Library Loans team); copyright fee-paid articles can be obtained on payment of the publisher's copyright fee.

Articles and book chapters for reading lists

If you wish to include an extract from a book or journal which is not available in the Library, you should request this via your online module reading list. The Library will then check that this is covered by the CLA Higher Education Licence; for items covered by this licence we will obtain a copyright fee-paid copy of the item and add this to your list. The Library will contact you regarding any items we cannot procure to discuss alternative access routes.

If you require a copyright fee-paid copy for purposes other than adding to your reading list, the Inter Library Loan form on Primo should be completed as normal and select Copyright fee-paid copy required. 

Inter Library Loans Secure Electronic Delivery

Articles and book chapters are delivered electronically as default, where available, for you to print. This service means quicker and more flexible access to documents via your University of Aberdeen email address, wherever you are. 

We have recently joined the RapidILL service which allows faster access to journal articles and book chapters, often within 24hrs Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

When your requested document is available you will receive an e-mail direct from the British Library providing a link to an encrypted PDF file, using a service called DRM Lite. To open the document you will need to register for a British Library account. British Library On Demand home page  

Select Register in the top right hand corner and follow the instructions for registering an account. You will require your account username and password to access your documents, so keep the details safe. Please ensure that your username does not include the @ symbol as this may cause the document to fail to open. There is a 15 minute delay between registering and the account becoming active, so if you can't access the documents first time, try again later.

To open the file on your home computer or personal laptop, you will need to make sure that you have Adobe Reader version 10 or higher installed. This is available on all classroom PCs.

Please note the conditions of Secure Electronic Delivery: 

  • Electronic documents are available for download for 30 days after which the link expires
  • You may print the document only once - you are advised to print a copy as soon as you download the document.
  • Copies of the document may be saved to more than one device and accessed by logging in with your British Library account details. The document is locked to your account and cannot be opened by other browsers. 
  • Documents are supplied subject to the usual UK copyright restrictions.

Please note that articles and book chapters may be supplied electronically but not whole publications.

Information on borrowing for other libraries 

We can provide loans and scans from our collections to libraries in the UK. 

Most material is available for loan except the following: 

  • Heavy Demand Collection 
  • 3-day loan material 
  • Audio-visual material 
  • Microform material 
  • Reference material 
  • Teaching Resource Collection material 
  • Special Collections material

UK libraries 

Apply to quoting your British Library account number and request reference number. 

Overseas Libraries 

We do not lend material to non-UK libraries

Submitting a request

Submitting a Request 

There are two ways to submit a request - either online via Primo or by completing a paper Inter Library Loan (ILL) form. 

Using paper ILL forms 

If you wish to use the forms, these are available at all branches of the library.

Online via Primo 

  • Select the ILL tab 
  • You will be required to sign-in, either as UOA staff and Students or External Library Members 
  • Select either Book (used for books, thesis, reports, complete journal issue/volume) or Article. Complete the details for the item you require. Make sure the essential fields, marked with a red asterisk *, are completed.  
  • Agree to the Copyright Statement and Click Send Request 

A message telling you that the request has been successfully registered will appear on screen.

Check the progress of your requests via your borrower record 

  • Check your own library record via Primo 
  • Sign in to the system 
  • To access your Borrower Record click your name at the top right 
  • Click My Requests to look at a list of your requests and check on their progress
  • We will also notify you of availability by email or letter  
  • If there is a problem obtaining the item then we will contact you as soon as possible 

It is important to bear in mind that your request will be processed more quickly if your citation and source of your information is accurate. Please check the authenticity of references and include this information in your request.

Inter Library Loan charges

Inter Library Loan Charges 

Vouchers as payment (external or corporate members only)

A voucher buys one standard request, for a print or electronic copy, and can be purchased by individuals from library sites.

  • Payment (by voucher) is required, in advance, for every request made. 
  • One voucher costs £8

Renewals - Renewals cost £3.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Why hasn't my request been processed yet? 

More often than not a request has been held up because either the application form has not been completed fully or the item is available in our collection. 

When requesting journal articles bear in mind that it is against Copyright Law to provide a copy of more than one article per part. Ask for a loan of the part containing the articles instead. 

I've submitted my request. What happens now? 

If a copy can satisfy your request it will be sent to you by Secure Electronic Delivery, where available, to your University e-mail account. Loan items are held at library service desks and you will be notified once the item is available for collection. Occasionally items are loaned to us on the condition that they are consulted only within the library and not for home use. Under no circumstances can we break this rule. 

If there is a problem obtaining the item (e.g. the British Library require the source of your reference) then we will contact you as soon as possible. We send out regular reports on the progress of your requests and keep you informed of any progress. 

How long does it take? 

Most requests are satisfied within 5-10 days though we cannot guarantee this. Electronic copies from mainstream journals and most book chapters PDFs will usually arrive much sooner. If an article or book chapter is available through RapidILL, items will usually be available within 24hrs (Monday – Friday). Older, more obscure material can take much longer, as do items that are ordered from abroad.

How long can I keep the item? 

Items from the British Library are sent on loan from three to six weeks. British Library loan periods are the same for all classes of material: i.e. three weeks guaranteed loan from the date of issue, plus an extra 3 weeks' automatic extension if no one else requests the item during this period, i.e. six weeks. Other libraries will set their own borrowing period but most will usually give a minimum of a month. All items are subject to recall by the lending library. 

Return of loans 

Please return all items that you receive on loan promptly. This is particularly important because we rely on the goodwill of other libraries to lend us material. If you have any problems in returning your loan please contact us immediately. If you fail to return an item on time there is a danger that you could be charged. The British Library will bill us £195 for a replacement copy if items are excessively overdue. Even if the item is returned at a later date the administrative part of the fee (£60) will not be refunded. It is our policy to pass this charge on to the borrower. 


It may be possible to renew a loan. The current charge for this is £3.00. There is no guarantee that we will get the item renewed but in most cases we will. If you do find that you will need more time please contact us at least 3 days in advance of the return date. 

Helpful information and useful links 

It may be quicker or more economical to visit other libraries in the local area rather than using the Inter Library Loan service. 
The Robert Gordon University Library covers a wide range of subjects and disciplines. It also provides electronic access to the holdings of numerous local libraries that are members of the Grampian Information network. See our SCONUL access pages for more information.

JISC Library Hub Discover is a union catalogue that provides free access to the merged online catalogues of many major University, Specialist, and National Libraries in the UK and Ireland, including the British Library.