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Inter Library Loans (ILLs)

How to get hold of books and journal articles that we do not have access to at Herts

Service update November 2023: Please note if you have requested an Inter-library loan from us it could be delayed due to the issues currently being faced following  a cyber-attack on the British Library that led to a leak of both employee and customer data and is continuing to affect its website, online systems and some onsite services.  You can find out more on the BBC website here: British Library hack: Customer data offered for sale on dark web

If you have a password for British Library services that you use on other websites, we strongly recommend you change them.  See our guidance on creating a secure password. 

Please read our FAQs below if you are a regular user of British Library services or use our University’s Inter-Library Loan service.

Requesting books, articles, reports, conference papers, and theses not held at Herts

What is an Inter Library Loan (ILL)

How do I request an Inter Library Loan (ILL) 

TOP TIPS for quick and easy journal article requests

Item request FAQs

British Library cyber attack FAQs

What is an Inter Library Loan (ILL)?

When that essential journal article, report, or book you need is not held by the library, the Inter Library Loans (ILL) service should be able to get it for you. We request items on your behalf from other libraries such as the British Library. All registered students and staff at the University can use the service to support their university work or study.

  • We use a range of services and other libraries to supply articles and book chapters (in PDF formats for you to keep) and print books which are usually loaned for about 4 weeks. Lending terms may vary as they are set by the lender.
  • By placing a request, you are agreeing to your email address being sent to both RapidILL and the British Library for the sole purpose of supplying your request.
  • A copyright declaration is required to access the ILL (Inter Library Loan) request form. This is made by clicking the Yes button below the declaration details on the inter library loan requests tab of your Online library account.
  • Before requesting print books, please check that your library account is not blocked for any reason, as print loans cannot be checked out to a blocked account.
  • Print Books can take 7-10 days to arrive and need to be collected from the LRC Welcome Desk during staffed hours.  You will need to show your ID card for collection as books cannot be issued without a valid ID card in the name of the requester.
  • Articles, reports, book chapters, and conference papers will be delivered to you by email, usually as a link to a PDF. Links will only be active for 30 days after receipt so please download them as soon as possible. We recommend that you rename the file using the article name so you can easily find it in your downloads later.

How do request an Inter Library Loan (ILL)?

Before requesting an item, please check Library Search to make sure that you can't access the item you want immediately from the library's own collections. If the item is not held at the University, follow the instructions below to place your request.

Read our top tips to help you fill in the form

  1. Access the ILL Request form directly, or through your Library Account by logging in to the Online Library

  2. Click on the ‘your Inter Library Loan requests’ tab and + Create a New Request.

  3. Read the Copyright Declaration and confirm your request is compliant by clicking “Yes”

  4. Select either Article, Book, Book Chapter, or Thesis from the drop-down menu

  5. For book loans please include the title, author, year of publication, and ISBN if possible. Select the Campus LRC you wish to collect from. PLEASE NOTE: Books can only be collected from the LRC Welcome Desk at the requested campus, during staffed hours. You will receive an email with collection and return instructions, with the book return date, when the book is available.

  6. For articles and book chapters please complete the relevant fields with as much information as you have available as our system for electronically delivered items is automatically sent off and can be delivered to your email within a day or so if no additional editing is required by staff members.

  7. When the form is completed, click on the 'Make Request' button.
  • Confirmation of your request will appear in your Library Account on the ‘your inter library loan requests’ tab as soon as you have submitted it. You can also check there for updates on the status of all your requests. 
  • Please contact the Helpdesk if confirmation is not received on your account or if you can’t complete a request.  

Top tips

  • For quick and easy journal article requests: Use the DOI.  Cut and paste the DOI into the DOI field and this auto-populates the whole form. 
  • If you don’t have the DOI please add the ISSN if you have it as this really speeds up your request.  The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is an eight-digit number that identifies periodical publications as such, including electronic serials. The ISSN for the Journal is often listed in the article's record /bibliographic information.
  • If your article request is urgent, it's worth searching this database for the Journal’s ISSN
  • For book chapters: If you add an ISBN it will speed up the delivery of your request. This is usually a 10- or 13-digit number listed in the book record/ bibliographic information. 
  • Conference papers and reports should be requested as an article if it is in a journal or as a book chapter if published in a book. 
  • The Electronic Theses Online System (EThOS) offers free access to the full text of UK theses. If a thesis is not available in full text, we can request it to be scanned, but this can take several months and may need Information Manager approval. Please complete the Thesis form with as much information as you have available.

Item request FAQs:

When will I receive my requested journal article?

  • Depending on availability, journal articles will be delivered to your email in one to five working days. If all the required information is entered, then a request is automated and can take a day,
  • If your requested item is not available, you will be notified by email from the ILL team.

How long will it take for my print book to arrive?

  • Books may take up to two weeks, you will receive an email with collection details when the book is at the LRC you chose to collect from.
  • You will be notified by email if your requested book is not available to borrow.

How can I check what Inter Library loans I have and the progress of any requests?

  • Log into your Library Account, and go to 'check my library account'
  • For all items you have requested the current status will be displayed in your inter library Loan requests

How will I receive my requested document?

  • You will receive an email with a link and password to a PDF attachment from either,, or a PDF from
  • You should download and save the document as soon as possible as the link will expire after 30 days.

Please Note: We suggest you rename your downloaded PDF with the article name, so it is easier to find in your downloads later.

How will I know when my requested book has arrived?

  • When a book you requested has arrived an email will be sent to your email account with collection information and return date and instructions.

How long can I borrow a book for?

  • Most books are loaned for four weeks but it will depend on the lending library. Please collect your request promptly to gain the maximum loan period. The book return date is in the collection email.
  • It may be possible to extend the loan period of a book. Please request by email to a few days before the book is due back, although you should be aware that this is at the discretion of the lender and incurs a further charge to the University.
  • Occasionally the British Library may lend items for 'reference-only' use. You will only be able to refer to these in the Learning Resources Centre, where they will be kept for the same loan period as for a loanable book.

What if I lose an item or return it late?

  • If you lose an item on loan to you, the British Library will impose substantial charges, in excess of £185 per item, which includes a non-returnable administrative charge. These charges will be added to your Library Account.

  • Please ensure items are returned promptly. Late charges are not charged to the borrower but as a courtesy, we like to return all borrowed books on time to the lenders. Please contact the LCS Helpdesk if you are not able to return a book on time.

How do I return my Inter Library loan book?

  • Inter Library book loans should be placed inside one of the black Book Returns Boxes at College Lane or de Havilland LRCs. These are next to the self-issue/return machines near the entrance.
  • The book will be taken off your library account by library staff by the following day, you will receive an automatic ‘returned book’ email when this happens.

What happens if the British Library cannot supply my book request?

  • If the British Library cannot supply a book, we will request it from another institution, which will take longer. You will be notified via your email account if an item is unavailable for lending.

British Library cyber-attack FAQs

I’ve recently requested an Inter Library Loan.  Will it be delayed?

The British  Library are working hard to restore operations and services.

The Library Team will continue to obtain ILL books and articles from other Universities and the vast majority of electronic requests will be unaffected. However, book loans and some electronic document requests may take longer as we obtain them from alternative sources, and some specialist items that are only available from the BL will be unavailable in the short term.

I have a British Library login.  Should I reset my password?

If you have a password for British Library services that you use on other websites, we strongly recommend you change them.  See our guidance on creating a secure password. 

How can I find out the latest status of British Library services?

Check the British Library blog and their Twitter feed @BLpressoffice for updates on the current status of their services. You can contact the British Library by emailing but please be prepared for delay to responses.

What can I do to stay safe online while studying here at Herts?

Read our top tips for staying safe online including:

And don’t forget to report and seek support if you believe you have been scammed.   ​​​​​​​

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Please refer to the LCS Service Status page for updates on service availability. Online and telephone support is available 08:00 to 18:00 Monday - Friday with telephone support only available outside of these times.