Royal Free London Library Services


Inter-library loans

When an item is not available from the Medical Library, we can obtain it for you from another library via our inter-library loans (ILL) service. This service is available to all registered users of the Medical Library. Please see the membership page for details of who can register to use the library. Before requesting an ILL, please check Explore to ensure the item is not available from the Library or online.

Types of material available on request

Any published literature not available from the Medical Library can be ordered. Examples include:

  • Photocopies or scanned copies of whole journal articles or book chapters. To comply with copyright regulations only one article from a journal issue or one chapter from a book can be photocopied.
  • Whole journal issues, published at least six months previously.
  • Regular contents pages or specified journal issues.
  • Books and single volumes of book series.
  • Doctoral theses for which the author has granted borrowing permission.
  • Reports, conference proceedings and patents.
  • Films and videos held at the British Medical Association (BMA) Library. Please ask if you wish to consult the BMA's catalogue.
Cost and methods of payment
One photocopy of up to 50 pages. This can be retained.£3.00
Loan of one journal issue£3.00
Loan of one book or a single volume of a book series£3.00
British Doctoral Theses£3.00

Items can be obtained from overseas. The library will try to provide this service at no extra cost but occasionally we may need to charge more than the standard £3.00, we will inform you if this is the case.

Requests can be paid for at the time of application or pre-paid pink cards can be purchased in advance from the Issue Desk and used when required. Payment may be made by cash, cheque or from a Medical School or Hospital Grant. Payment from Medical School grants may be made using an Inter-departmental Transfer (IDT) form, which should be acquired in advance from your department. Forms are available for RFH Special Trustees Grant holders from the Issue Desk. Receipts are available on request.

Urgent requests

Requests are usually satisfied within 4 working days. If you require an item more urgently, the following services are available:

British Library Urgent Postal Service
item normally arrives by post the following day
British Library Fax Request Service
usually received by fax within 2 hours.
(Note: if the British Library has to contact a back-up library, items may take up to 24 hours.)
How to request an item

There are two ways to request an item:

1. Fill in the online request form
The request form is accessible via Explore. You will need to sign in with your library barcode (on the back of your ID card) and password. Click on the 'Show more' button in the black menu bar at the top of the screen, and then click on the option for 'Inter-Library Loan Request'. Contact the issue desk if you are not sure of your password. Complete the available form to provide details of the item which you are requesting. Please complete a separate form for each individual item requested.

2. Fill in a request card
Request cards are available from the Issue Desk. To avoid delays, please provide as much information as possible and complete legibly. Remember to read and sign the copyright declaration if requesting a photocopy. To comply with UK copyright law the details and signature must be of the person who requires the photocopied material. Complete a separate request card for each item required and hand the completed card to Issue Desk staff.

Journal articles and issues
Must include: journal title (standard abbreviations can be used); article title (the first few words will suffice); authors (if there is more than one, please enter et al. after the first author); year, volume and page numbers (inclusive). Include the issue or part number if known, especially if the whole issue is required. Please include the source of the reference - if the reference was not located using a well-known database such as MEDLINE, please provide the exact source
eg. Clin Sci 1991, 81 (355).
Books and volumes of book series
Must include: authors or editors (if there is more than one, please enter et al. after the first author); publisher and date of publication (essential if a specific edition is required); ISBN (if known). A volume number must be added if the book is part of a series.

If you have any special requirements, for example, you require a copy containing coloured images or enlarged print, please note it on your request card at the time of ordering. If you are applying for a British doctoral thesis, you may need to supply a Thesis Declaration Form in addition to your request, available from the Issue Desk.

In all cases please complete your personal details (last name, initials, department, internal extension and Library card number) and sign the copyright declaration on the reverse of the form.

Completed cards can be purchased and handed in before 10pm on weekdays and before 5pm on Saturday.

Collection of items

You will be notified via email or internal post when the item is received in the Library. If you would prefer to be notified by phone or bleep, please specify your choice on each application form and provide the relevant information. Please bring your Library card with you when collecting your items.

Delays and cancellations

 Occasionally requested items cannot be supplied within four working days. There may be a number of reasons for this, for example there may be a waiting list for the item you require or the lending library may not be able to trace the item and may require clarification of your reference source. If a delay does occur, we will keep you up to date on the progress of your request.

You may be able to cancel requests where there is a waiting list or an item is unobtainable. A prepaid form will be supplied as a refund. In accordance with UCL regulations, we are unable to provide cash refunds for unsatisfied requests.

Items for retention and loan periods

All photocopies of journal articles can be retained. Almost all of these are scanned copies of an original document, giving high quality text and photographs. However, if you are dissatisfied with the quality of your article please contact a member of the interlibrary loans team.

Books, theses and whole journal issues are usually loaned for a period of three weeks. An automatic extension is allowed at no extra charge, but further extensions are charged at £3.00 and are dependent on the item not being requested by another library. Some expensive items and publications may not be removed from the Medical Library.

All loans can be returned to the Issue Desk before 10pm on a weekday or 5pm on Saturday. If a loan is lost or returned late, you may have to pay the lending library's administration and replacement costs, usually £112.00 (inc VAT) for each item on loan from the British Library. If the item is particularly expensive this fee may be greater. Once a bill has been issued to us from the lending library, payment must normally be made even when the item is later returned.

Access to other libraries

If you do not wish to use the Library's interlibrary loans service, we may be able to suggest another library where the item can be consulted. Holdings information for all UCL libraries is available on Explore.

Please consult the Using other libraries page for details of other libraries Medical Library users are entitled to use.


If you have any further queries please email medschill@ucl.ac.uk or call 0208 0168 210 (UCL internal extension 68210).