Inter Library Loans

Inter Library Loans
What is Inter Library Loan?

Inter Library Loans 

Note: For the latest information on the ILL Service, please see the relevant FAQ.

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 photocopies from other libraries in the United Kingdom and abroad. 

Who can use the service? 

The service is funded by University academic units and not the library and so it is important that you check with your department before you submit a request. You will need an Inter Library loan voucher before you submit your request. Information about voucher charges is available. 

Individual members of the library may also purchase vouchers to pay for requests, as may corporate members. 

For details on how academic units / schools / colleges may place internal orders for ILL request vouchers see the Inter Library Loan Charges tab above.

What does the service cover? 

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

Before you submit a request 

Please make sure that you have checked Primo before you submit a request. Each year we find approximately 50% of requests received are for items already in the University of Aberdeen's library collections. When checking for journal articles remember to check the Library Holds statement in the Library Catalogue. 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 (1934)-v. 55, no. 1 (1988) 

EThOS theses service - The British Library no longer supply microform copies of UK theses. The electronic theses service EThOS service is now live. Researchers are able to access and download any one of over 20,000 e-theses already available and are able to search through and place a request for over 300,000 British doctoral theses. Most are available as free downloads but there may be a charge of up to £40.00 depending on the awarding institution's level of participation in EThOS. Further information about EThOS is available online. If a particular doctoral thesis is not available in electronic format as an e-thesis you can submit an Inter library loan request to try to borrow the printed copy. 

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 click here

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

CLA Higher Education Licence 

If you wish to place an extract from a book or journal which is covered by the CLA Higher Education Licence onto MyAberdeen but the library does not hold a copy of the item, you should request a copyright fee-paid Inter Library Loan copy of the required extract when submitting your request. Please note that in addition to the standard charge of 1 voucher, there is also a copyright fee which will vary depending on the item/publisher concerned. ILL staff will be able to advise you of the number of vouchers 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. 

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. 

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.

Please note if you have previously received documents from BL using FileOpen you must maintain FileOpen on the device that the files are saved on to allow access to the document for the full 3 years.

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 BL 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. Some articles may not be available in electronic format and these will be supplied as a hard copy. 

Information on borrowing for other libraries 

We can provide loans and photocopies 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 through the library catalogue or by completing a paper ILL form. 

Using paper ILL forms 

If you wish to use the forms, these are available at all branches of the library or we can post them out to you. The white forms are for book, report and thesis requests while the blue form covers journals. If you are submitting a thesis request it is necessary to complete a British Library thesis declaration form which is also available from the ILL desk at the Information Centre in the Sir Duncan Rice Library. 

On-line through the library catalogue 

  • Select the ILL tab 
  • Identify yourself by entering your registration number and PIN 
  • Click the ILL tab again, then from the options listed select the appropriate form for the type of material you wish to request 
  • Book / Thesis 
  • Journal / Article 
  • Conference 
  • Report 
  • Complete the details for the item you require 
  • A voucher number should be included with each request 
  • Agree to the Copyright Statement and Click GO 
  • A message telling you that the request has been successfully registered will appear on screen. If you are requesting a copy please print this page before clicking OK to complete the request process 
  • Sign the printed copyright declaration and submit to the Inter Library Loan desk 

Check the progress of your requests via your borrower record 

  • Check your own library record via Primo 
  • Log on to the system 
  • Go to Borrower Record - Activities 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

ILL Charges 

Vouchers as payment 

  • Payment (by voucher) is required, in advance, for every request made. 
  • A voucher buys one standard Inter Library Loan request and can be purchased by Academic Units for distribution to staff or students
  • To allow the library to manage Inter Library Loan commitments on library funds vouchers purchased by Academic Units within a financial year must be used in that year
  • Internal orders for 10 or more ILL vouchers can be placed via the Finance system. More 
  • Vouchers can also be purchased by individuals from library sites. More
  • A voucher currently has the value of £7.00. 

A voucher buys one standard request and can be purchased by Academic Units for distribution to staff or students. Vouchers can also be purchased by individuals from library sites. 

Copy - print or electronic 

1 Voucher 


1 Voucher 

World wide search copy 

8 Vouchers 

World wide search loan 

9 Vouchers 

World wide cancellation / failure 

3 Vouchers 

Urgent Action Service 

4 Vouchers 

External Library Members 

£8.00 per Voucher 

Renewal - Personal Charge 



Internal orders for vouchers 

  • Inter Library Loan vouchers, for orders of 10 or more vouchers, can be ordered as an internal order on the Finance system. The University Library is listed as a supplier.
  • From 1 August 2011 Internal Order purchases are accepted only for orders of 10 vouchers or more. Should lower quantities of vouchers be required, these are available at Library Sites, where you may pay by cash, cheque or credit card. Where applicable you can obtain a refund either via your School's Petty Cash fund, or by submitting an Expenses Claim. Petty cash refunds can be made for values up to £40, whereas Expenses Claims can be for any sum on production of an appropriate receipt – we are happy to provide a till receipt for this purpose. 
  • Please speak with your School finance contact for more details on claiming expenses. General details on Expenses Claiming are available
  • Should you have any general queries, please contact your Information Consultant in the first instance.
  • For any queries regarding internal orders of ILL vouchers please contact Library Administration Team on ext. 3866, Email: 

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 we have not received a signed copyright declaration. 

When requesting journal articles bear in mind that it is against Copyright Law to provide a copy of more than 1 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. Physical copies will be posted for your retention. 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 8-10 days though we cannot guarantee this. . Electronic copies from mainstream journals will usually arrive much sooner. 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 3 to 6 weeks. British Library loan periods are the same for all classes of material: i.e. 3 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. 6 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 £110 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. 

Urgent Action 

A same day response service is available from the British Library. If requests for photocopies are received before 2.30 pm and the British Library hold the title, a faxed reply should arrive before 6 pm. This is an expensive service. A list of current charges is available. 

Electronic journal articles 

If you are requesting an article from a journal that's available electronically please be aware that libraries holding electronic versions may not be permitted to provide copies to other libraries or individuals due to licensing restrictions. Restrictions regarding article supply via inter library loan services vary between journal publishers. 

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. 

Zetoc is a large multidisciplinary database containing contents pages of 20,000 journals and details of 16,000 conferences per year. 

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.