Interlibrary loan

The Interlibrary Loan Service (ILL) supports University research by obtaining material which is not readily available locally. If your library does not have a copy of a book, journal, article or publication you need to consult for your research, the Interlibrary Loan service will try to obtain it for you. 

Interlibrary Loan application form

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the InterLibrary Loan service continues to be disrupted. However, we will still make every effort to source items for you. Please be aware some items may be unavailable, or order times may be longer than usual. Thank-you for your understanding at this challenging time.

The service is available across all our campuses to:

  • Staff
  • Postgraduate students
  • Undergraduates in their 3rd, 4th or 5th year

Users of the ILL service may make a number of requests each year free of charge up to the limit specified below. Premium requests, for items like theses which are expensive to obtain, are included but also limited. If you exceed your limit items can still be requested but a charge of £10.00 per item will apply (staff may complete the ILL charge form).

Category Limit Notes
Undergraduates: 1st - 2nd year 0 This service is not normally available*
Undergraduates: 3rd year 5 No premium requests
Undergraduates: 4th - 5th year and
Undergraduates 3rd year (Malaysia campus only)
10 Maximum of 5 premium requests
Postgraduates: Masters & Diploma courses 20 Maximum of 5 premium requests.
Postgraduates: PhD, EngD, MBA & DBA students 25 Maximum of 5 premium requests.    
Staff 30 Maximum of 5 premium requests

* The course requirements of Undergraduates in 1st – 2nd year are met from the resources available locally and the requirement for additional material is exceptional. Please consult your Academic Support and Liaison Librarian or your lecturer if you have questions about accessing additional material for your coursework.

If you wish to request additional items beyond your limits, a charge is applicable. Charges are also made by some lending libraries e.g. for failure to return a loan on time. Any charges made by a lending library will be passed on to you.

Dubai Campus, Malaysia Campus, Distance Learning programmes and Approved Learning Partners (ALPs)

An Interlibrary Loan service is available to students. We can supply copies of articles and chapters from books electronically but we are unable to provide loans of books due to the method of delivery. For more information, please consult the staff in your Campus Library for information about local arrangements for accessing material held in other libraries.

You must be registered to use the ILL service. When registering you need to enter your Heriot-Watt University username and password (the username and password that you use for Vision and your HWU email).

To register for the service:

  1. Go to
  2. Login using your Heriot-Watt username and password
  3. Fill in the Personal Information form.

Please note

  • We use email to communicate with you about your requests and to deliver materials in digital format, so make sure your email address is entered correctly.
  • Contact if you're having problems logging in to the online ILL service, mentioning the Clio ILL system.

Making a request

Books, periodical articles and other documents can be requested through our online request service. To ensure prompt delivery of the required item:

  • Make a separate request for each item you require.
  • Give all the details you have EXACTLY as given in the reference - do not either expand or abbreviate periodical titles.
  • Always make sure you can provide us with a copy of your original source of reference (i.e. where you got your information from) if requested.
  • Make sure you indicate your agreement to the Copyright statement in the space provided on the form. We cannot process your request until this has been done.

Software for British Library Secure Electronic Delivery (SED) Service

Most article and chapter requests are delivered via Secure Electronic Delivery (SED).

Adobe Reader 10 or above is required.

All users are required to be registered with the British Library on Demand service.  A link to the document is delivered by email; the link will take you to the download page.
Note: you must be online

If you are already registered and the system does not recognise your email address, you will be prompted to enter your Username or your British Library registered email address before you “Click to download your document”

If you are not registered, you can register by clicking Register for On Demand
Note: it can take up to 5 minutes for records to be updated with a new registration

Before requesting an item

Please be sure you really need it, as the university has to pay for each request.

  • Check the Library's catalogue, or the A-Z list of journals we subscribe to, to make sure that the item you want is not already accessible.
  • If you only need the item in order to check a reference, e.g. to find an author's name, the information may be available in the Library - just ask if you simply want to verify a reference.
  • An abstract of the item may be available in one of the databases and other electronic resources to which the Library subscribes. This may help you to evaluate the reference and may make an interlibrary loan unnecessary. Please ask if you need help tracing an abstract.
  • If you need to refer to the item on a long-term basis, or if it is likely to be of continuing use to others, it may be more appropriate for us to purchase a copy for the Library. Please contact your School Library Representative in such cases.

Requests are usually supplied within a week. However, it may take longer if the item you request is out of the ordinary, or in great demand. You can use the online service to check the progress of your requests or ask the Interlibrary Loan staff (ext. 3575,

British Library Secure Electronic Delivery (SED) Service

Most of our ILL requests are supplied through the British Library on Demand service.

Instead of the British Library printing a copy of an article and posting it, they put a copy on their web server for you to read or print out. You will get an email to your University email address to tell you when it is ready.

Terms & conditions

  • You must download the document within 30 days of being notified it is available.
  • For items delivered as Encrypted Downloads you may download and print your document once.
  • Once downloaded, you are advised to save the pdf file to your hard drive/memory stick as the article is not automatically saved
  • Once saved documents can be viewed for up to 3 years on any PC, including mobile devices.

Non-SED ILL requests

Other non-SED ILL requests are delivered as follows to Edinburgh, Galashiels and Orkney campuses:

  • Print copies of articles are sent directly to your School (staff) or your term-time address (postgraduates/undergraduates).
  • Books and other requests for staff are sent to your School.
  • Books and other requests for students are held in the Library for collection. You will be notified by email that the item is available, and you should collect and sign for the item
    • Edinburgh Campus: collect from the Customer Service Desk
    • Scottish Borders Campus: collect from the Service Desk
    • Orkney Campus: collect and return items to Carl Mullins
  • Some items, such as theses, may only be used in the Library. This is a condition of loan specified by the lending library. We must comply with the terms of any loan; library staff cannot make exceptions to any conditions specified by lending libraries. In such cases we will send you an email to inform you that the item is available for consultation in the Library.

Loan period

The normal loan period for books is 5 weeks.  Please return your loan to the Library Loan staff during this time.

  • Do not return items direct to the lending library.

Charges and fines

The cost of any late fines/fees will be passed on to you.

  • Lost loans have a charge of at least £160.10.

Renewals and recalls

  • Loans may sometimes be extended - you can request this by contacting the Interlibrary Loan staff (ext 3575; email before the return date.
  • The first renewal is free - subsequent renewals will have a charge of £5.00 (staff may complete the ILL charge form).
  • A loan may be recalled from you if someone else needs it - you must return it by the date given on the notice sent to you.

Key information

ILL - InterLibrary Loans

  • InterLibrary Loans, Resource and Facility Services
  • +44 131 451 3575