Document supply and inter-library loans

Due to the cyber-attack on the British Library in October 2023, many of their services remain unavailable. Where possible, we will satisfy your request via alternative routes, but please be aware there may be an adverse impact on our inter-library loan service (March 2024).

If material is not held in any University of Birmingham library, we will try to find a copy for you from elsewhere. Please confirm we do not hold the item already using our library catalogue, before placing your request. The service is open to all current students and staff.


Are there any charges?

Staff and students of the University are able to place inter-library loan requests free of charge. 

Please note: Uncollected or unconsulted inter-library loan items will incur a charge of £16. There may also be charges for multiple renewals of items sourced from the British Library.

How do I request an inter-library loan?

  • Go to our library catalogue and login, using your university account.
  • Perform a search to check that we don't already have a copy of the item you need.
  • Go to the results screen and select 'Expand beyond Library Resources'.
  • Your search will be matched with results outside our collections, as well as those we do hold. The link ‘No online full text, check for print journal/book…’ confirms that we don’t have this article in our electronic collections.
  • Click the 'No online full text, check for print journal/book' link. 
  • A menu appears. Select the link ‘Interlibrary loan request (can take up to four working days)’. This takes you to the Interlibrary Loan Request form.
  • The form has been pre-populated with details of the article. Prepopulating the form means you’ll get your item quicker.
  • Read the copyright declaration and tick the box to confirm you understand the copyright statement and will agree to abide by it.
  • Select the ‘Request’ button.

After submitting your request, you will be able to view the details in your library account on FindIt@Bham. Your request will be processed by Document Supply, who will get in touch with you if they need more information to action your request.

You will receive an email either containing a link to an electronic version of an article/chapter or informing you that the item is ready to collect.

What can I order?

You can request books, articles, reports, conference proceedings, international theses as well as other materials. Please be aware you may only order one article per journal issue or one chapter per book due to copyright regulations.

Some older or more expensive items may be loaned to us for consultation use in the library only.

Electronic theses online

Requests for most UK doctoral dissertations should be made via EThOS, a service offered by the British Library. You should only place an interlibrary loan request for UK PhD thesis if Ethos is unable to supply a copy. 

How will I receive my inter-library loan?

Electronic articles

You will receive an email when the article is ready for you to download.

All articles requested will be delivered electronically unless you specifically request a paper copy.


Book requests must be collected from the Main Library. Loanable items can be collected from the Main Library Smartlockers while reference use only items will be held in the Allport Room.

If reference material is not appropriate for your needs, please add 'loanable material only' to the comments section of the request form. 

Items can also be collected from the Shakespeare Institute and the Orchard Learning Resource Centre.

How long will my request take to arrive, and how long can I keep it for?

  • Most requests for journal articles and book chapters will be satisfied by RapidILL within 24 hours (please ensure you include an ISSN or ISBN for fast delivery)
  • If RapidILL cannot satisfy the request, electronic items will normally be obtained in two to three working days
  • Books, conference proceedings and theses take on average one to two weeks

It can take longer to locate a supply library for older or more obscure material as it may be necessary to apply to a series of libraries in turn. Print material obtained from outside the UK may also take longer.

Most print items will be loaned to us for a period of three to four weeks. If you require a renewal please contact

Please note there will be a charge for multiple renewals of items sourced from the British Library.

When I try to access the form, it tells me that I am "currently unable to access the interlibrary loan request form."

This message will be displayed if there is a problem with your library account that prevents you placing requests. Please contact us at in order for us to examine the issue.