Accessibility statement

Accessing British Library documents

Interlending articles and book chapters may be delivered electronically using the British Library's secure electronic delivery service.

Place your request as normal and if it's available from the British Library, it will be sent to you as an encrypted PDF using a service called DRM Lite.

The document that you receive is linked to a person rather than a device - it can be viewed on any machine, including mobile devices.

There is no need to install additional software other than Adobe Reader.

Getting started

Before you can receive British Library Interlending documents, you need to:

1. Register for a British Library account

To register:

  1. Go to British Library On Demand
  2. Select Register in the top right hand corner, and follow the instructions for registering an account.
    • You'll need to provide information such as your address and phone number. If you don't want to give your address, you may use the University's address instead.
    • You will need your account username and password to log in and access your documents, so keep the details safe.
  3. You'll receive an automated confirmation email from the British Library, which will ask if you want to link your account to your institution's account - please ignore it. You don't need to do this to receive electronic documents.

There's a 15 minute delay between registration and the account becoming active, so if you can't access your document the first time, try again a bit later.

2. Install Adobe Acrobat Reader (v10 or higher)

Because the PDF document you'll be sent is encrypted, it can only be opened using Adobe Reader.

Reader is installed on managed PCs in classrooms and offices on campus.

If you don't have Reader, you can download and install it for free from the Adobe website:

Accessing your documents

A link to the document download page will be sent to you by email.


If you're having any problems with the Interlending service, please send us a message using LibAnswers.

Once you've opened your document, you can save multiple copies of the document to different devices and can print one copy.

The PDF is encrypted so it's not possible to add notes or comments.

Only Interlending items which are available from the British Library can be sent via this delivery method.

Electronic delivery of whole books is not possible due to copyright restrictions (though one chapter of a book can be delivered electronically).

If we're unable to send your document to you electronically, we'll supply with you a paper copy.


How do I open a document?

A link to the document download page will be sent to you by email.

  • If you are registered for British Library On Demand and the system recognises your email address, you will be prompted to Click to download your document.
  • If you are registered for British Library On Demand but the system doesn't recognise your email address, you'll be prompted to enter your username or British LibraryOn Demand registered email address.
  • If you are not registered for British Library On Demand, click Register for On Demand on the download page. Follow the instructions which include activating your account. Return to the download page and enter your username or On Demand registered email address before you Click to download your document.
    Note: It can take up to 15 minutes for our records to be updated with a new On Demand registration, so please retry if your initial download attempt fails.

Once you Click to download your document you will prompted to login.

Some mobile devices may require you to go to the 'downloads' notification before you are prompted to login.

How many times can I print or copy the item?

You may print only one paper copy, from which you may not make any further copies.

You may not make further electronic copies or convert the file into any other format. You may not cut and paste or otherwise alter the text.

Can I forward the document to someone else?

Once the document has been downloaded, only the British Library On Demand user who downloaded it may access it.

However, download links may be forwarded to another email address if the document is not yet associated with a British Library On Demand account.

Why won't my document download or open? Why am I seeing blank pages?

Are you online?
Online access to the Internet is needed every time you open the document.   

Are you using Adobe Reader as your PDF viewer?
If your browser's default PDF viewer is not Adobe Reader, it will need disabling before documents can be read.
Google Chrome's viewer can be disabled:

  • If you're using Chrome v 57 or later, type chrome://settings/content/pdfDocuments into the address bar, and switch on Open PDFs using a different application
  • If you're using Chrome v 56 or earlier, type chrome://plugins into the address bar, then scroll down and click Disable next to Chrome PDF viewer

Chrome users may avoid this step by using a different browser eg Firefox.

Are you using a compatible version of Adobe Reader?
Adobe Reader 10 or above is required on any device you use to view documents, including mobile devices.

Has a previous user locked you out by clicking 'Remember me on this computer'?
If so, go to Edit | Preferences | Security and click and confirm the ‘Clear remembered account information button, then retry the download link.

Has the download link expired?
The download link will remain live for 30 days from the date of the original email. If the download link has expired, the item will need reordering.

I can't get Adobe Reader. Is there another option?

Unfortunately, British Library's DRM Lite service only works with Adobe Reader 10 or above, and documents will not open with any other PDF viewer.

For how long can I access the document?

The article is not automatically saved - you must click File | Save As and save it to your computer or filestore.

Once you've saved the document, you should have access to it for three years from the date of supply.

If file is not saved, access to it via the download link will end after 30 days and the item will need reordering.

What do I do if I have forgotten my British Library On Demand username or password, or if my password changes?

If you have forgotten your British Library On Demand username or password, there are links to have reminders sent from the British Library On Demand login page.

If your password changes, use your new password to access saved documents. You may need to clear the remembered account information in Adobe Reader.

How can I continue to access documents previously downloaded with FileOpen or Adobe Digital Editions?

To ensure access for up to the three year expiry time, you will need to maintain FileOpen or Adobe Digital Editions on the machine the document was originally downloaded on.

Information about the old delivery method is available at: