Obtain material not held by UWE Bristol

Our guide to inter-library loans and buying books.

Guide to the inter-library loan service

British Library data breach: In October 2023, the British Library suffered a data breach which resulted in the suspension of all inter-library loans. We are working hard to find alternative sources, but please be aware that it may be harder to find items. You can find more information on the British Library data breach and their timeline for recovering systems on the British Library website.

You can request items directly via our library search tool using the inter-library loans request form.

Request item

Further information and guidance

What can I request?

If we don't hold the item or information you need, we will do our best to obtain it for you from the British Library, or other source, via an inter-library loan.

We can obtain books, theses*, reports, and copies of journal articles.

* Most theses are now available directly from British Library’s Ethos.

How much does it cost?

If you're eligible to make a request, the service is free (the Library pays the fees on your behalf).

Who can make a request?

All UWE Bristol students and staff.

UWE Bristol students studying at partner institutions and staff supporting them are not entitled to inter-library loans.

How many requests can I make per year?

There is no limit to the number of requests you can make, on the understanding that these requests are being made to support your learning, research, and teaching objectives. Please note that if you are making multiple requests at once this may delay the process.

How are requests delivered?

Requests for journal articles are generally delivered in electronic format. They will be sent to the email address on your library record as an attachment which you can then read on screen or print out. Please read this advice from the British Library on opening electronic delivery documents (PDF).

The following conditions apply for copyright reasons:

  • Documents must be downloaded within 30 days of the link being sent. When you open the link you will be promoted to save the document on your device.
  • Once downloaded you will be able to access the file electronically for up to three years but you will only be able to print once.

For book requests, you will be informed when available for collection. Books will need to be collected during library staffed hours, please collect books promptly as they may have a limited loan period. You will need your UWE Bristol ID card so that books can be issued to you. Some items are for reference and must be used in the library, at the request of the lending library.

How long does it take to obtain a request?

It varies depending upon availability of the item from the British Library. If you haven't heard anything after two weeks please enquire further.

Can I renew my loan?

It may be possible to renew items obtained through the inter-library loan service. Please contact the library a few days before your item is due for return as we will need to contact the lending library. 

What happens if an item is lost or overdue?

You are responsible for all items issued to you and liable to pay for any lost material. The British Library charges a minimum of £175.00 (including VAT) for lost books.

The British Library also charges up to £175.00 (including VAT) for books which are not returned on time. You are liable for these charges, which cannot be waived even if the book is subsequently returned. UWE Bristol library fines are also payable on all overdue books obtained from other libraries.

Advice on buying books

Your tutors may recommend that you purchase a core text for particular modules or programmes.  This is usually because you are going to use the same book regularly.  Below are some useful tips on buying your own text books.

(Remember, the library will stock other books and journals that will help you read round the subject, even if the exact book you want isn't available.)

Buy new

It's worth trying a number of suppliers - prices can vary a great deal:

Buy second-hand

Some suggestions for finding second-hand books:

  • AbeBooks (includes a buy-back option)
  • Amazon (second-hand prices are listed with new prices, if available)
  • Blackwells online (second-hand prices are listed with new prices, if available)
  • Ebay
  • Bristol second-hand book shops

Buy as a group

Have you considered purchasing text books as a group?