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Inter-Library Loans

The Inter-Library Loan service can help you obtain materials which are not held at any of Cardiff University's libraries.


How do I make a request?

First check that the item you require is not available on LibrarySearch. Once you are sure that the library does not hold your item, there are two methods of making a request:

  • Online Request (Staff, Postgraduate Researchers, Distance Learners and Cardiff & the Vale/Velindre NHS staff only) – log in to LibrarySearch and follow the link Inter-Library Loan Request (Staff & PGRs) at the bottom of the page.
  • Paper request forms – available in all libraries. Please include as much information as possible on your request.

Most paper request forms will require authorisation. To find out who can authorise your Inter-Library Loan request, please check the list of authorised signatories for each School:


University Library Service regulations apply to this service: Inter-Library Loan requests/renewals will be refused if you owe more than £10.

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What can be obtained?

You may request books, articles, reports, conference proceedings, patents, standards etc. Please be aware that we may not be able to obtain some items such as pre-1900 material, manuscripts and maps. To request a British PhD thesis, please use EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) in the first instance; only place an Inter-Library Loan request if EThOS cannot supply the thesis you need.

Please note: UK copyright guidelines state that you may receive photocopies/electronic copies of

  • one chapter or 5% of a book, whichever is greater
  • one article from an issue of a journal

If you require more than the above limit you should ask to borrow the item instead. Copyright law still applies, so you will not be able to make copies yourself over the amount shown above.

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Is there a charge?

Requests are normally paid for by your School. In most cases authorisation will be required: see the Authorised ILL signatories list for details. Your home library will be able to confirm this for you. The current (from 1 August 2015) University Library Service charges are listed below:



Loan (including postage)






Please use this service wisely.

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Where do I collect my request?

Notification about books is usually sent by email to the address held on your library account. Please collect them from your home library. If you want to collect your request from a different library, please include this in the Notes field on the online ILL request form. Where possible, journal articles will be sent to you electronically. Journal articles may be provided as photocopies when not available electronically, you will receive notification to collect it from your home library. 

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What is electronic document delivery?

Where possible, journal articles will be sent to you electronically using Secure Electronic Delivery (SED).  These encrypted PDF files are accessed using the plug-in called FileOpen. This is the default delivery option so please let us know when you make your request if you will need to receive your article in paper format instead.

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How does SED work?

Your journal article or conference paper will be sent to you electronically from British Library. This will be sent to you in an email carrying a link to your article as an encrypted PDF document. Copyright also permits you to print a single copy for personal use.

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How do I use the SED service?


If you are using a networked PC, you will need to make sure FileOpen has been installed. Install it from: Start > All Programs > CardiffApps > Browsers & Plugins > FileOpen Installer. It takes just a few moments to do and only needs to be done once. (Please see the screenshot image below).

FileOpen screenshot



To open the document on your home computer, you will need to make sure you have Adobe Reader version 4 or higher installed. The FileOpen plug-in will then be needed to open your documents. This is available from Once this has been installed, we recommend that you ensure you can open the British Library FileOpen Test Document. For Mac users, the plugin is

For NHS LHB staff:  please contact your home library if you are experiencing any problems downloading the plug-in.


Please note the conditions attached to the SED service:

Documents must be downloaded, printed and saved using the link provided by British Library within 30 days of receipt (the link will become inactive after 30 days)

  • Once saved, the document can be accessed for up to 3 years but only on the computer you originally downloaded the file on
  • You can print the document once: it is recommended you do this in case of computer failure

Any attempt to access the document on another computer will fail due to digital copyright restrictions.

Please check the British Library FileOpen FAQs for further information. 

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How long can I keep an item and can I renew it?

Book loans are normally for four weeks, electronic articles and photocopies are yours to keep. Books are issued to your library account so you can keep a check on the due date: please note that you cannot renew ILLs yourself on LibrarySearch.

We will send you a courtesy email approximately one week before your loan is due. A renewal request can be made by replying to the email: if your request is successful, you can check your library account for the new due date. Your School may be charged for renewals so please bear this in mind when requesting renewals: a maximum of 2 renewals is permitted. 

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Who do I contact if I have any questions?

Please contact your home library if you want to make a request. If you have already made a request, please contact the Inter-Library Loan team directly on