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Document Supply FAQs

Please see below for answers to frequently asked questions about the Library Document Supply service. If your query is not answered here please contact us on or 020 8240 4097.

What can I request?

  • You can request any published book or journal with an ISBN or ISSN number that is not available in the St Mary's Library Collection. You can also request conference papers or theses (if not available in EthOS).  Document Supply requests are expensive to process, so please check your request details carefully.    

Are there any items which you cannot supply?

  • We can generally only supply items that are available either in the British Library or in another major research library in the UK.
  • We cannot usually obtain journal articles which are marked 'Online First' or 'Published Online Ahead of Print'This is because the British Library does not receive copies of journal articles until they are fully published (with a volume and issue number). In these situations usually the only option is to purchase the article directly from the publisher's website using a credit card.
  • Items published very recently may not be obtainable until they are available in the British Library.
  • Certain publications from outside the UK may be difficult for us to obtain or subject to delays.

How are requests supplied?

  • Books are normally supplied on loan from the British Library and can be borrowed for around four weeks. Occasionally we may obtain rare books from other university libraries and these are sometimes restricted to use in the Library.
  • Journal articles are generally supplied as PDF files which you can save and/or print (for personal use only).

How much will it cost and how do I pay?

  • The charge for a request is £5.50. This is subsidised by the Library.
  • For staff, the Document Supply charge will be charged back to your Academic School or Department, so please provide your cost code when making the request, obtaining clearance from the budget holder if necessary.

Can Staff pay for a personal request not related to St Mary's work? 

  • Yes. To make a request for personal use, please write 'CASH PAYMENT' on the request form. The £5.50 charge will be added to your Library Account. Please pay this at the Library Information Desk.

How long will it take for my item to arrive?

  • Most books arrive within 7 days of you making the request. Journal articles usually arrive within 3-4 working days. These times may be extended if the item you require is rare and/or not available in the British Library

How many items can I request? 

  • There is no specific limit on the number of requests you can make.
  • For Staff requests, the Document Supply charge of £5.50 per item will be charged back to your specified budget code (unless you pay yourself), so please obtain your budget-holder's approval first if necessary, especially if making multiple requests.

How do I collect my item?

  • For books or paper copies: we will send you an email when the item is ready to collect. These can be collected in the Main Library 
  • For PDF copies: we will send you a secure link to download the item. Please note that you must have the FileOpen plugin installed on your device to open the file. Staff members, please note if you are a using a St Mary's office PC, you may need to request installation of this plugin  - please contact the IT Service Desk to request this

Can members of Staff copy Document Supply items for teaching purposes?

  • No. Document Supply items (whether book loans or photocopies) are for personal research use only.  If you wish to distribute copies to students online via Moodle then you must use our Digital Course Readings serviceAn additional Copyright Clearance Fee may be payable, and this will be charged to your programme's library budget.

How do I renew a loan?

  • Most Document Supply book loans can be renewed on a chargeable basis (unless requested by another user). If you wish to renew your loan, please email no later than three working days before an item is due.
  • Loan renewals cost £3.50. If an item is not renewed before the due date, we will automatically renew it where possible and charge the renewal fee to your account. If we cannot renew the item we will charge a £4.00 overdue fee to your account.

Recalled loans

  • The British Library (or other supplying library) may recall a loan book if it have been requested by someone else. If this happens, we will email you and ask you to return the book within 1 week.

Lost loan items

  • If you lose a Document Supply loan item then we will have to pass on the full cost of replacement to you. Please be aware that Document Supply books are often rare and/or valuable and the British Library may charge a replacement fee in excess of £200.


  • All Document Supply items are supplied under UK copyright law. They may not be copied further or passed to any other person. Copyright does not allow more than one article to be copied from the same issue of a journal for the same person. By submitting the online request form you are agreeing to observe copyright law in your use of the item.
  • For more information see the copyright advice pages.