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Inter-Library Loans (ILL)

Changes to British Library’s On Demand Service

From the end of February, we will be using DRM Lite, an improved method for delivering articles and book chapters from British Library.

Requests will continue to be delivered in the usual way to your registered Royal Holloway email address but, the first time you try to download your document, you will need to complete a short initial registration process.

Articles supplied by other Universities will continue to be forwarded to you or printed and posted to your department as before.

  • No need to download additional software. As long as you have Acrobat Reader 10 or above, you are sorted.
  • Documents are locked to a user rather than a device. You can access your article from any device with Internet access.
  • The new delivery method works with Mac devices.
  • You will need Acrobat Reader 10 or above to view your document
  • You have to be registered with the British Library On Demand service
  • You have to be online to view your document
  • The best browsers to use are Internet Explorer or Firefox for Windows and Safari for Mac. If you use Chrome, you will need to disable Chrome PDF viewer first
  • Avoid creating a username containing the @ symbol, as this could cause the document to fail to open
  • You will receive an email from noreply@bldss.bl.uk with a link to the document
  • If you haven’t already done so, register with British Library On Demand
  • After five minutes, you will be able to download your file with the username and password you chose during registration for 30 days from dispatch
  • Once downloaded, we recommend that you save it; you will then be able to view the document for up to 3 years
  • You can keep copies of your document on multiple devices, including tablets and smartphones
  • The document may only be printed once and it is recommended that you print it immediately

For further information and guidance, please consult DRM Lite FAQs or contact us via email at ill@rhul.ac.uk or by phone on 01784 443122.

Information about the previous delivery method is available at SED FAQ.

Click to go to the section:

Loan period  |  Arrival time  |  How do I request an ILL?  |  Charges  | 
Policy & Conditions  |  FAQs


The Inter-Library Loans service (ILL) is one way members of Royal Holloway can access material from other libraries. You can request an ILL if the item you want:

  • Is related to your studies
  • Is for your dissertation or thesis
  • Is not part of Royal Holloway's collections 
  • Is not part of Senate House Library's electronic collection

Loan period

The initial loan period for an ILL item is 3 weeks. However, it may be shorter than this if the item you requested is recalled.

If you need an item for longer, you may renew it, subject to recall. It is free to renew the first 3 times, with a charge of £5 for subsequent renewals. 

Please be aware that some loans will be 'For Use in the Library Only'. The loan period for these items is the same as other ILL items; however, you cannot remove them from the library.

For more information on the renewal process and Library Only items, see FAQs at the bottom of this page. 

Arrival time

The arrival time of an ILL item can vary greatly from a few days to a few weeks, as it will depend on where we source your item from.

The fastest way to receive your item is via email, as a .pdf file sent to your personal email address. The delivery time for this option is 24 hours. However, please be aware of the conditions associated with this option (see below, under Policy & Conditions).

If you need an item urgently, we suggest you contact the Information Consultant (IC) for your department who will be able to advise you (see: IC contact details).

If you have requested a physical copy, we will contact you when your item is ready for collection.

How do I request an ILL?

1. Go to LibrarySearch.

2. Sign in to LibrarySearch via the 'Student and Staff Sign In' link in the top-right corner  -- it is important to sign in before step 3.

3. Select the  'Inter-Library Loans' link.


3. After following the 'Inter-Library Loans' link, you will see this form:


The fastest way to receive your item is via email, as a .pdf file sent to your personal email address. Select 'Digital' in the format field, then 'Alternative address' to specify your email. Please be aware of the conditions associated with this option (see below, under Policy & Conditions).

Please read the copyright declaration carefully before clicking 'Request'. Once it has gone through, you will see a screen with the message 'Request placed'.

4. If you have requested a physical item, we will contact you when your item is ready for collection, as these cannot be sent to your home address. Items must be collected and returned from the helpdesk in the Library in the Davison Building. You will need to have your College card with you.


There is no charge for an initial ILL request. However, there are fees in certain events:

  • Late returns


  • Non-collection
  • Lost item
Variable; can exceed £100 if the item is of high value
  • 4th renewal onwards
£5 per request

Policy & conditions

Inter-Library Loans Policy

The Library's official policy for the Inter-Library Loans service is included in its Collection Management and Development Policy, under bullet 6.4.1. The latest version of the policy (Oct 2015) can be accessed here.

Requests may only be made for material that supports learning and research at Royal Holloway.

You may request an item that is not held in library stock or as part of Senate House Library's electronic collections. If the item you require is currently on loan, you need to place a hold on it via LibrarySearch. (See: reserve an item)

Materials for postgraduate taught and undergraduate courses should be provided from the library's own collections. If an item recommended on a reading list is not in the library, please let us know via the suggest a book form. However, if you are a postgraduate taught student or an undergraduate in your second or third year, you may use the ILL service when you are working on your dissertation.

When requesting an article it is good practice to read the abstract of the paper before submitting a request to ensure that the article is what you require.

If you need an item urgently, please bear in mind that we cannot guarantee next day delivery or delivery within a few days, as it will depend on the item requested. If you do need the item urgently, we suggest you contact the Information Consultant (IC) for your department who will be able to advise you. (See: IC contact details)

Similarly if you make a very large number of requests, our Information Consultants or ILL staff may consult you to discuss whether other options may be more suitable.

Please note that some loans of books and journals are 'For Use in the Library Only'. These cannot be removed from the library. In most cases the usual copyright restrictions regarding printed items will apply to these items; however, some Library Only items cannot be photocopied and this will be stated clearly within the item.

Conditions: receiving an ILL item as .pdf on your personal computer 

Only items sourced from the British Library can be sent to your personal email address in .pdf format. Items sourced from any other library will be sent to the Royal Holloway Inter-Library Loans team, who will then print the document and send it to your department. You will need to go to your department to confirm arrival of your document. Alternatively, contact ill@rhul.ac.uk to check if your item has arrived.

If you are able to receive the item as a .pdf file on your personal computer:

  • If not already installed, you must download FileOpen in order to read your .pdf.
  • Once you open the file on your PC, you will only be able to open it on that one PC.
  • For this reason, if you wish to print you should ensure your PC is connected to a printer. Otherwise, do not open the link in the email but forward the email message to the ILL team at: ill@rhul.ac.uk. We will then print off the document and send it to you at your department.
  • Your item will only be available for download within 30 days, so we recommend downloading the item as soon as you receive the link. If you re-submit a request for the item after 30 days, you may need to pay a fee.
  • If you wish to, you will need to print within 14 days.
  • You may only print an item once, but after download, you can view the document on the same PC for up to 3 years.

Frequently asked questions

How do I renew an ILL item? 

Please contact the team at ill@rhul.ac.uk to request a renewal.

Items can be renewed 3 times, subject to recall, with a charge of £5 for any subsequent renewals. If an item is recalled by the lending institution, you will not be able to renew it.

The ILL team will be able to advise you on the loan period of a renewed item.

How do I use a 'For Use in the Library Only' item? 

Some ILL items will be 'For Use in the Library Only', which means they cannot be removed from the library.

You will need to collect the item from the Library Helpdesk in the Library in the Davison Building. Please bring your College card with you and return the item to the Library Helpdesk before you leave, each time you wish to use it.

The usual copyright restrictions regarding printed items also apply to Library Only items; however, some Library Only items cannot be photocopied and this will be stated clearly within the item.

How do I order a thesis? 

We recommend visiting our Theses page and checking the suggested databases for the thesis you require.

If you wish to submit an ILL request for a thesis, you may do so by following the standard procedure for submitting an ILL request. Please leave a note in the comment box of the form, stating that the item you require is a thesis.

For any additional assistance, contact ill@rhul.ac.uk.

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