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Inter-library loans

Books and other physical items

Collecting your loan

If your book is being supplied in physical format, we will contact you by email as soon as it is available. You can only collect inter-library loans from the Service Desk during staffed hours.

We cannot send your item to you by post. If you are not usually based on campus, you may wish to check whether another library closer to you has a copy. You can do this using Library Hub Discover (UK national, academic and specialist libraries) or WorldCat (libraries worldwide). You may need to join the SCONUL Access scheme if the book is at another UK university.

The standard loan period for inter-library loans is three weeks from the date you are advised your item is ready to collect. If the lending library asks us to, we may set a loan period shorter than three weeks.

If you do not collect your inter-library loan immediately, this will reduce the length of time you can borrow it for. For example, if you collect your book 7 days after it is made available, it will be loaned to you for two weeks, rather than three.

Some libraries will lend items to us only on the condition that we do not allow you to take them out of the library. We will email you with further instructions if the book you have requested cannot be borrowed.

Returning your loan

Your inter-library loan may be recalled by the lending library at any time. We will email you if you need to return an item earlier than expected.

You should return your inter-library loan to the Service Desk during staffed hours. If you cannot visit the library during these times, you may place the item in the returns box next to one of our self-service kiosks, but this is at your own risk and if the item goes missing, or is found to be damaged, we may charge you for a replacement (see Terms and conditions).

We will send you at least two email reminders before your inter-library loan is due for return.

We will email you if your inter-library loan becomes overdue.

Articles, book chapters and other digitally supplied items

You will usually access scans or digitally-supplied items online in one of the following ways:

  • Article Exchange – This is our preferred methods and is linked to your Library Account
  • British Library On Demand

More information about these two services is available below.

If we are not able to give you access online, we may get a copy in print instead. We will let you know if this is the case.

Article Exchange

If your request is supplied via Article Exchange, we will email you to confirm it is available. The email will contain a unique link and a case-sensitive password (you can also access the document from the 'Requests' tab of your Library Account). Once a document has been uploaded to Article Exchange it is available for 30 days or a maximum of five views, whichever comes first. If you are experiencing issues in accessing or downloading your article, please email us.

British Library On Demand

If your request is supplied via British Library On Demand, you will receive an direct email from the British Library to confirm it is available. The first time you use the service, you will need to register for an account. You will also need to download Adobe Reader version 10 or above (if you do not already have this installed on your device). For more information about how to access electronic materials supplied via on demand see our guide to Using British Library On Demand.

Renewing inter-library loans

If you have borrowed a physical item, you can request a renewal by emailing us or visiting the Service Desk on the entrance level of the library during staffed hours.

There is no charge for renewals.

Please note, however:

  • You should try and return all inter-library loans by the end of the original loan period, wherever possible
  • You should be prepared to return your item by the due date, or even at short notice if the item is recalled
  • Although we can request a renewal on your behalf, this is at the discretion of the lending library and we cannot guarantee to renew your loan
  • It can take time to contact the lending library, so to avoid overdue charges please give us as much notice as possible. If you contact us right at the end of the loan period, this may not give us enough time to request the renewal and extend the loan
  • We will not usually be able to request a renewal if your item is already overdue. An item cannot be renewed once it has been billed.
  • You cannot renew inter-library loans on the self-service kiosks or using your online Library Account
  • You can request a maximum of two renewals for each inter-library loan.

What if...?

If an article or chapter is available at Birmingham Newman, you should be able to access it via Library Search.

However, if we do find that the item is already available via one of the Library’s current subscriptions, we will send you the link to the item's record or access page by email.

You should not use the inter-library loan request as a way of out-sourcing your research to the Library team. If we receive a number of requests from you for material that we already have available, we will contact you to arrange some training on Library Search with an Academic Service Librarian.

If the material you have requested is Open Access and freely available online without a subscription, we will send you a link by email.

There are websites and browser tools available that can help you locate Open Access versions of documents on the web, where they are available. These will often get you access to the item much quicker than using the inter-library loans form. Take a look at our Open Access guide to find out more about these tools.

If we find a significant number of your requests are available Open Access, we may get in touch with you to offer support on using these websites and tools.

Occasionally, your request may be fulfilled by a library that cannot provide an electronic copy. If your journal article or chapter is supplied in printed format, we will email you to let you know it is available for you to collect.

We will contact you to let you know if we are unable to fulfil your request. Some common reasons we may not be able to proceed with your request include:

  • Your account is expired, or has overdue loans or outstanding fines
  • You have not given us enough information to identify the item
  • The item is not available in the format that you requested
  • You have previously requested and received the same item
  • We cannot find a library willing to lend us the item

In some circumstances, we may be able to continue with your request once we have more information or addressed problems with your library account or eligibility. Where we cannot continue, we will advise you of alternative options if there are any available.

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