Information Services

About Interlibrary Loans

The Interlibrary Loan service (ILL) is one way to obtain material which is not held by the University of Edinburgh.

What the Interlibrary Loans service provides

The ILL service can obtain material which is not held by the Library, and which is needed for research and study. Within the UK the main source of supply is the British Library Document Supply Centre (BLDSC), but we also work with other libraries, in the UK and overseas.

You may also visit other libraries as most will allow visitors to consult their material in person. It is recommended that you check with the library beforehand.

What can I request?

You can request books, articles, reports, conference proceedings, patents, standards as well as other materials.

Some items, such as pre-1900 material, manuscripts and maps, are more difficult to obtain, as few libraries will lend them. In these cases, it is generally possible to visit the holding library in person to consult the material.

Items which are already held by the Library, but which are on loan to other readers, can be recalled from the current borrower by asking Library Helpdesk staff. We would not request these via ILL.

How to make a request

You can request ILL articles and books using the Interlibrary Request Form on DiscoverEd. 

Go to DiscoverEd

All University of Edinburgh staff and students may place requests after signing in to DiscoverEd. External users who are registered borrowers with the Library may not currently apply for ILL services at this time.

Staff and students of the University each have a quota of interlibrary loans that are provided free of charge. Details of the quotas are listed below.

Staff or student Quota of free loans
Staff 30
Research postgraduates 30
Taught postgraduates 30
Undergraduates 5

If you use your quota of free loans, there will be a charge of £5.00 per item for the supply of any subsequent loans or renewals.

Any unused parts of the 2023/24 quota cannot be carried forward to the next year. They are void after 31/7/2024.

Within this arrangement, staff and students of the University may request up to 150 items within any year (1st August to 31st July). If you request more than 150 items you will be charged the full cost of £18 per item.

Requesting from other University of Edinburgh Library sites

This service operates between sites which are not within walking distance of each other, for example between King's Buildings Campus and the Main Library, or between the Royal Infirmary Library and the Veterinary Library. The service does not operate between sites within the Central Campus (Main Library, Law, Divinity, Education, Art & Architecture and Edinburgh College of Art).

The service can also be used to request materials held at the UCF. We provide physical item delivery twice a week, Wednesday and Friday.

All requests for items from University of Edinburgh sites, including requests from the UCF are free of charge and do not contribute towards your quota of interlibrary loans.

How long will it take?

Straightforward Interlibrary Loan requests, such as articles from major journals, may take only 2-3 working days, whereas more obscure items may take several months. The majority of requests take no more than a couple of weeks, however, it is not possible to guarantee delivery within a specific time.

Therefore, please always allow a minimum of two weeks, and more if possible, for an ILL to be delivered. It is advisable not to submit requests for loans prior to leaving Edinburgh on extended leave or field work, as the material may arrive while you are away.

Requests from the UCF will normally be available within three to four working days but this may vary between sites.