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Interlibrary loans

We will be introducing a new service for managing Inter Library Loans from 1st June - DRM Lite

Find out more about DRM Lite

From 1st June the Inter Library Loans team will be introducing a new service for receiving articles electronically, called DRM Lite. 

The current way of accessing Inter Library Loan articles means that your document can only be opened and saved onto one computer, using Adobe reader and a plugin called File Open.

The benefits to the new and improved service include: 

  • The documents will be locked to the user rather than a machine - so if your computer breaks down you will still have access
  • Documents will be able to be viewed on mobile devices and tablets
  • All your documents will be in one place
  • There will be no need to download extra software (like plugins), however you will need Adobe 10 or above

The British Library’s DRM Lite service is an electronic delivery method that allows the British Library to supply securely encrypted documents and ensure the item is used only as permitted by the rights holder. Users will need to register, with a username and password, for the On Demand service to access documents.

DRM Lite will only be available for articles that the British Library supplies.  If another library supplies the article, this will still need to be picked up from the Help Desk. 

The Inter Library Loans team hopes that you will enjoy using the new and improved service.  If you have any questions or want further information please see the new service FAQs


The Inter Library Loan service is a way of obtaining material that is not held by Brunel University London and is needed for your research and study. To request material, complete an Inter Library Loan form which will be sent through to the Library team.

Journal articles and photocopies can be sent to your email address via Secure Electronic Delivery, or can be picked up from the Library Help Desk. Books and other material have to be collected from the Library.

We are not able to guarantee a time frame for when items will arrive, as it depends on the availability of the item at either the British Library or other supplier libraries.  

There is a charge for this service for Undergraduates and Postgraduate course students.  Inter Library Loan charges for some staff and research students are covered by the Library.  Please check the University Library’s resources before applying. You can check:

Please have a look at the costs before you submit your request. There is no charge for unsuccessful requests.

Who can use the Inter Library Loans service?

The Inter Library Loans service is available to all current staff and students.

How do I pay for an Inter Library Loan?

If you have been charged for your Inter Library Loan this will be added to your Library account and can be paid at the Library Help Desk or online through your Library account.  For electronic items the cost will be added after you have received your item.  For books and items requested in print the charge will be need to be paid before you take the item with you.  This can be paid in cash at the Library Help Desk, online or via the self-service machine.

How do I order an Inter Library Loan?

To order an Inter Library Loan complete the Inter Library Loan form, or log into your Library account and select the link for Inter Library Loans at the top right of your screen.  Use the Request Type drop down field to select the kind of Inter Library Loan you are requesting and fill in as much information as possible.  More information will help us process the request more quickly.  

In order to supply your request we need the following information.

We need the full title of the book, the author or editor and the year the book was published.  If you have the ISBN please put that in as well. 

We need the conference title, the location, date the conference was held. If requesting an article we need the page numbers and article title.

Journals/Articles/Book chapters:
We need the title of the book or journal, the volume and issue number, plus the pages that you need. We also need author and title of the article or chapter within the journal or book.

Most UK PHD theses are available to download through ETHOS  (Electronic Thesis Online Service). 

To download theses you will need to register for the service and login to your account. For theses that are available to download immediately the service is free.  For theses not available to download there is a digitization on demand facility that can be used.  There may be a cost involved (currently £58.32). ETHOS provides a list of participating universities, some of which the supplying library pays for and some where the user ordering the item pays for.  The Library does not offer this as an Inter Library Loan service.       

All requests need to have the user’s department and if you are requesting pages please choose a delivery method.  If you don’t have all the information, please supply us with your source of reference in the notes field. 

Can I cancel my request?

Once a request has been submitted on your behalf we are unable to cancel it. When it arrives you will be charged for the request irrespective of whether you collect the item or not. We cannot guarantee that material you request will arrive by a particular date.

How much does an Inter Library Loan cost?

 Costs effective from August 1st, 2017

Item Cost
Mail delivery of a journal article (post) £10.60
Electronic delivery of a journal article (email)* £6.24*
Electronic delivery of a journal article - scanned from print (email)* £10.92*
Loan of a book or journal issue £14.65
Renewal of a loan £4.75
Worldwide search (if an item is not available in the UK) 
Theses from abroad and US/ Canadian theses not available through ProQuest 


  • Electronic delivery * Please note we are unable to clarify which price the electronic delivery will be until it has been supplied
  • Worldwide search (if an item is not available in the UK)  Please note we are unable to clarify the exact price for a worldwide search until it has been supplied - £55.00 is an estimate but it may be lower or higher depending on what the charge is levied by the library supplying the document
  • UK theses « Please refer to the British Library EThOS service
  • Theses from abroad and US/Canadian theses not available through ProQuest  Please note we are unable to clarify the exact price for such a thesis until it has been supplied - £55.00 is an approximate price

A book I need is held in the Library but it is on loan/ on order. Can I request this as an Inter Library Loan?

We do not process requests for items in Library stock or on order.  If the item is missing you will need to speak to your Academic Liaison Librarian for approval to request an Inter Library Loan of the item.  If the item is on order please keep checking the catalogue.

If the book is on loan then you will need to place a reservation on the book as your request will be cancelled.  

How long will it take for my Inter Library Loan to arrive?

Unfortunately we are unable to guarantee a date when your Inter Library Loan will arrive. There are various reasons for this:

  • The British Library may not hold the item so we may have to apply elsewhere
  • The item may be held in another section of the British Library so will take longer to retrieve
  • The item may be temporarily unavailable, for example due to stock moves
  • Another users may have the item on loan so you will be placed on a waiting list. This is also the case for photocopies or scans of articles/ chapters
  • The British Library may be buying the item, so you will be placed on a waiting list
  • The British Library may require more information or rechecking references if they are unable to locate the item
  • The item is being bound at the British Library

If the item is requested electronically and supplied by the British Library, this usually takes 2-4 working days and goes straight to your email address. For printed items these usually arrive within 7 working days of the request.

We aim to keep you informed as to the progress of your request. If you have any queries with your request please email the Inter Library Loans team.

Why is there a delay to my request?

The following may delay your request.

Account queries - there may be outstanding queries on your Library account, such as fines or expired registration:

  • If you have fines of £20 or more you will be asked to clear them
  • If you have not paid for a previous Inter Library Loan which we supplied
  • You have not supplied us with your department

Request queries

  • The request is incomplete
  • The item you have requested is already held in our Library stock
  • You have used the wrong form to submit your request
  • The book has not been published

Where do I pick up/ return an item?

All items need to be picked up and returned to the Help Desk on the ground floor of the Library during staffed hours.

How long can I keep the item for?

It depends on the lending library but typically the loan period is 5 weeks.  Most items can be taken home. However there are some that are library use only items and must remain in the library.  We are unable to guarantee that the item that you request can be taken out of the library.   

Why is my item Library Use only?

The loan period is determined by the lending library; sometimes this means that the item will be library use only.  Unfortunately we don’t know the loan period until the book arrives. 

Can I renew the item?

Renewals are not automatic and it depends on the lending library to renew the item.  If you wish to renew please email the Inter Library Loans team 2-3 days before the due date so we can contact the lending library to see if we can renew the item.

What happens if I lose an item?

Interlibrary Loan books belong to other libraries and we can only borrow them because we have agreed that we will abide by the regulations of the UK Inter-Library Loan network.  For books loaned by the British Library that are either damaged or lost you will be charged The British Library Lost Item Charge and administration charge which is currently a minimum of £163.10.  For items that are owned by other library’s this will depend on that libraries policy.  All charges will be passed onto the user.

How do I request a thesis?

There are several ways of finding a PhD Thesis

  • Theses from Brunel can be found on BURA especially the most recent ones.  There are some hard copies which are on the third floor of the Library
  • Other UK Theses can be found either on the individual Universities repositories or are available through EThOS which is run by the British Library. 
    You will need to register for this service first. To download theses you will need to register for the service and login to your account. For theses that are available to download immediately the service is free.  For theses not available to download there is a digitization on demand facility that can be used.  There may be a cost involved (currently £58.32). EThOS provides a list of participating universities, some of which the supplying library pays for and some where the user ordering the item pays for.  The library does not offer this as an Inter Library Loan service
  • North American Theses can be found at either the awarding University or through ProQuest Dissertation Express 
  • European Theses can be found through DART-Europe. This contains open access research theses from 613 Universities in 28 European Countries
  • There is a directory of Open Access Repositories called OpenDOAR which has a list of various repositories by country
  • Other national Theses services can be found at NDLTD

Secure electronic delivery

You can receive your journal articles or conference papers direct to your desktop via the British Library's Secure Electronic Delivery (SED) service.

Rather than receiving a photocopy in the post you will be sent an email carrying a link to your article as an encrypted PDF document.

The advantages of this service include:

  • Cost: It is slightly cheaper than requesting a print copy.
  • Convenience: Articles can be accessed from your preferred email account wherever you are.
  • Speed: Cutting out postal and courier deliveries means that you receive your articles sooner.
  • Quality: Articles are scanned to order providing high quality reproduction.

How to access this service

You will need a recent version of Adobe Reader and the FileOpen Plug-in on the PC you intend to use to receive your documents. University PCs already have these as part of the standard desktop.

However, if you want to open your documents elsewhere you may have to download free versions of both from the Internet: Adobe Reader, FileOpen plug-in.

You can check your PC is set up correctly by attempting to open a test document on the British Library's web pages.

Important things you need to know

When you receive the email from the British Library the link to your article will remain live for 30 days.

Unfortunately, owing to Copyright Restrictions you are only able to print your document once. In theory you can print your document up to 14 days after the original download, but this only applies on your own computer, not to machines in public use such as those in the Library and Computing Centre.

We strongly recommend that you print your document as soon as you open it and check your printer has enough paper and toner before attempting to do so. If your printer fails or jams please contact Inter-library Loans and we will attempt to re-supply.


Tip: if you try to print your article and the print icon is not enabled, save the document to your C: or D: drive and close it. When you use Adobe Reader to open it, printing should be enabled this time, provided you have the FileOpen plug-in.