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Document Delivery: Electronic delivery

Accessing materials from other libraries
Most articles and book chapters requested via our Document Supply service will be delivered electronically in PDF form.
In order to conform to copyright law, items from The British Library are encrypted with DRM (Digital Rights Management) software.
Full instructions will be provided along with the link to your order or see below for additional guidance.

British Library On Demand

DRM Lite is an electronic delivery method that allows the British Library to supply secure, encrypted documents and ensures that the items are used in accordance with copyright law.   In order to access your inter-library loan documents you will need:

  •  A British Library On Demand username and password
  • Adobe Reader version X or later installed on your computer
How do I register for British Library On Demand?

Registration is free and once you have set up your account the first time you can login with your username and password from any device in order to access your document.

  • Fill in the required details on the Registration Page. (Please note: registration is required even if you already a hold a British Library Reader Pass)
  • Ensure all mandatory fields are completed then click the ‘register’ button. After this you will receive an email with a link to click in order to verify your account.

We recommend setting up your British Library On Demand account as soon as you submit your first document request to us, so that you will be ready to access it as soon as it arrives.

First time users only: please allow 10 minutes between verifying your account and attempting to download your first article.

You will still need to submit your request via the University of Exeter library. The British Library registration is required so that you can open the article once it has been sent to you.
How do I obtain Adobe Reader?
  •  Adobe Reader for Windows or Mac is available as a free download from the Adobe Website. If you already have the software but a version older than X there should be an option to upgrade.
  • The software should already be available on campus PCs but if you have any difficulty accessing it please contact SID for support. 

Downloading your documents

  • When we source an article or chapter for you from the British Library you will receive an email containing a link to your document. Click on this link to go to the Document retrieval page. The link will expire after 30 days so please ensure you access it during this period

  • It may be easiest to open the link in a Firefox or Internet Explorer web browser. If you are using Chrome you will need to disable the built in PDF viewer before you can read documents. To do this, type chrome://plugins in the address bar, then scroll down to Chrome PDF viewer and click on disable.
  • Enter your British Library account username or email address in the box. Then click to download your document
  • If Adobe Reader doesn't automatically open you may need to choose “Adobe Reader” from the “open with” options: depending on your browser these may pop up automatically at the bottom of the screen or you may need to right click on open for more options.

  • You will then be asked to enter your British Library On Demand username and password. If you do not already have a British Library account follow the relevant link to register now. Ensure the registration process is completed and your account validated then wait 10  minutes to allow the British Library's database to update before proceeding further.
  • The document should now open. You can print it once and save it to access online for up to 3 years.

Tips and Troubleshooting

Please note the following:
  • You must click to download your document within 30 days of receiving the email from the Library.
  • After first use the link will remain active for 14 days. You can re-download the document from this link within this time period but not afterwards, so make sure you save and/or print the PDF within 14 days of first access
  • Once opened the document will be locked to your British Library On Demand username but it can be saved to a hard drive or memory stick. 
  • When opening your document you will need to make sure your device has internet access in order to authenticate your login. Use your British Library username and password to gain access. On a private PC you can set Adobe to remember these details.


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. The Google Chrome browser and MAC devices have in-built document viewers that require disabling or bypassing.
  • Are you using Microsoft Edge? Change the properties so that the PDF files open in Adobe Reader rather than in a new Microsoft Edge browser window.
  • Can you use a different browser? If you can't, try saving the file and then right-click on the file name to see an 'open with...' link from which you can select Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Are you using a compatible version of Adobe Reader? Adobe Reader X or above is required on any device you use to view documents, including mobile devices.
  • Has a previous user locked you out of Adobe 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.
  • Does your British Library username contain the ‘@’ symbol? This results in the error message “There was a problem accessing your document, please try again later”. In this case please contact British Library Customer Services for advice. 

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