Inter Library Lending

SWRLS Guide to inter-lending


All SWRLS CIO member library services are required to lend material to other SWRLS CIO members free of charge. This is within any national exclusions, copyright legislation and individual services' policies. To prevent some oganisations becoming overused, services may put a cap on the number of items lent to another member in any given year.

Finding items

There is no single search facility that covers all SWRLS member libraries holdings. The following union catalogues may help identify items held by SWRLS libraries:

  • Jisc Library Hub Discover Service: the Discover service brings together the catalogues of over 100 major UK and Irish libraries. In a single search you can discover the holdings of the UK's national libraries (including the British Library), many university libraries and specialist research libraries, such as The National Trust. It is managed by JISC.
  • WorldCat: WorldCat is a global network of library content and services. It includes books, music and digital items such as audiobooks. It is managed by OCLC.
  • Unity UK: Unity UK is a national network for resource sharing covering public, academic and specialist libraries. It provides a facility to cross search COPAC, the British Library Integrated Catalogue and Revealweb at the same time as the UnityUK data. It is also a sophisticated inter-library loans management system that interoperates with most library management systems and offers a fee based management system for ILL. Only subscribers to UnityUK may access the catalogue. It is managed by OCLC.
  • Encore!: this is a national catalogue of performance sets of both vocal and orchestral music.

In addition, most SWRLS libraries' catalogues are available to search individually through the members' only section of the SWRLS website.

Borrowing process

Having identified a library that holds a required item, it is advisable to double check that library's catalogue and then make contact by email or phone to check whether the item is available to borrow. The Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery (FIL) has some useful best practice guidance on inter-library loans which can be adapted to suit working practices across library services.

Further information on inter-library lending can also be found on The Combined Regions website, which includes information about the Joint Fiction Reserve, Locating Fiction in English, Non-English Language Fiction and alternative and accessible formats.

Supplying items

The cost of postage and packaging is shared by the lending and borrowing libraries - the lending library paying to supply and the borrowing library paying to return. The supply of online materials, such as journal articles, and photocopies are at the discretion of the lending library and within any relevant copyright legislation.

Charges for non-SWRLS ILL

British Library:

Items supplied by the British Library (charges apply from 1 August 2019 and are amended annually). SWRLS CIO members receive the following reduced rates as being for the Public Good:

  • Standard service electronic source and supply - £5.60 + VAT
  • Standard service scanned-from-print electronic delivery - £9.80 + VAT
  • Standard service mail delivery - £11.30
  • Standard service loan - £15.80
  • Loan renewal - £5.25

For other charges, please see link to British Library charges.

CONARLS: items supplied by CONARLS members through the IRU scheme: £6.00 per item (2019/20)