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Find answers to and guidance on our most frequently asked questions.

1. General

2. Preparing for the new system

3. Search and discovery

4. Placing an order

5. Order management

6. Receiving your order

7. Account administration

1. General

1.1 When will the new service be available?

Currently, the fully functional system will go-live in February 2012. (Though this is subject to change).

1.2 Will it be free to access the new service?

The new interface will be free to access.

Any materials ordered will be chargeable as per the current price list.

1.3 How can I access the new interface?

Following the launch of the system, all users will be able to access the interface (including the administrative pages) at:

1.4 If all PDFs are being sent in full colour, will there be an option to have only black & white?

There are no plans to offer a choice between black & white or colour. All orders will be processed in full colour. It will be possible for you to print these items in both colour and black & white once they have been received.

1.5 Will electronic signatures be supported in the new interface?

No, electronic signatures will not be supported in the new interface.

1.6 Are there any data protection issues around entering user details in to the interface?

The system has been tested against the Data Protection Act and is compliant.

1.7 Are there any changes to the loan periods?  

Yes. Once BLDSS is launched, the standard loan period will be 6 weeks.

1.8 How will the pricing change when the new system launches?

Please refer to our Pricing Pages for the latest pricing information.

1.9 What payment options are there in the new system?

All payment options that have been available in the past are available in the new system: monthly invoicing, a deposit account and pay-as-you-go options.

Account holders will retain their current billing preferences. Pay as you go users will be able to buy documents using a credit or debit card.

1.10 What is the Pay As You Go option? Can authorised users order and pay themselves but at their Library’s rate?

Pay As You Go refers to a payment method which is ‘per item’. Using this option you can select one or more items and pay for them using a credit or debit card. You do not need to have a British Library Document Supply account in order to use the Pay-As-You-Go option.

The service is independent from Business Accounts however, and therefore individuals choosing this option will pay standard commercial rates.

1.11 Does our parent/satellite account arrangement still work with the new system?

Yes. There is no change to the way that parent/satellite accounts operate.

1.12 How do I tell you about a problem?

If the copy we supply is incomplete, incorrect or of poor quality, you can let us know from the My Orders/Admin Order Tracking on our website.  Just find your order line, select ‘Report Problem’ and then select the appropriate problem type from the menu.  Our operators will investigate and provide you with a new copy as soon as possible.  You can do this online even if you sent the request using ARTEmail.

If we send you the wrong item on loan, please report the problem and then return it to us using the Return Address label on your Delivery Note as soon as possible.  

Alternatively, you may call or email Customer Services as now. (01937 546 060 or Please quote the British Library reference number wherever possible.

1.13 Are we talking to Library system vendors about 3rd party platforms communicating with the new British Library interface?

We spoke to several Library System vendors about developing a possible replacement protocol for ARTEmail.  These discussions led us to believe that rather than implement a short term solution that would mean IT changes for customers and was unlikely to deliver significant benefits, it would be better to concentrate on developing an interface that would allow a Library System user to search for an item, check availability of the item at the BL in real time and then place orders seamlessly.  

In 2012 we will be following this up to create a long term solution.

2. Preparing for the new system

2.1. What do we need to do to use the new system?

Nothing initially, and if you want to continue using ARTEmail to make requests to us you can still do this.

However, if you wish to take advantage of the full range of benefits our new online interface will offer: searching, ordering, tracking and administrative tools… then there will be a number of processes involved to get you and your users ready to take advantage of all benefits.

2.2 Will it require any IT changes at our end?

No IT changes are necessary.

If you want to take advantage of the new web based interface, it should be noted that the site uses Adobe® Flash® Player.  

2.3 Do we still need to have DRM software installed to receive PDF documents? If so, can we continue using FileOpen and/or Adobe Digital Editions?

We are still required to send PDF documents out to customers in a copyright compliant format which means you will still be required to have DRM software installed.

You will still be able to use either FileOpen or Adobe Digital Editions.

Please refer to the following page for additional information:

Customers entitled to ‘Unencrypted Downloads’ require only Adobe Reader to receive documents.

3. Search and discovery

3.1 Can I copy and paste citations into the online Search box.

No. You can, however, copy and paste keywords from a citation into the search box.

Our online search interface is based on keywords, as are the vast majority of on-line systems including Google and Amazon.

Enter (or copy and paste) a small number of keywords in the search box and select the item that interests you from the returned list.

You can enter any part of the bibliographic data including the title, author, ISSN etc.

Entering the full citation details is unlikely to return a successful search as any difference in any of the data between the citation and the British Library catalogue will result in a failed search (e.g. a typographical error, a different spelling etc.)

3.2 What is the best way to search for articles?

Please see above.

4. Placing an order

4.1 Will I still be able to use ARTEmail to request items when the new system is launched?

Yes! If a user would like to continue to request using ARTEmail they can. In fact requesting via ARTEmail has also been improved, thanks to improved back office systems fewer ARTEmail requests will be failed. Additionally, if your administrator chooses the ‘Fix Format’ option, when sending in batch requests if one request is formatted incorrectly the entire batch will no longer fail - only that particular order.

If you request by ARTEmail you will still be able to track your orders using the administrative interface, and you can continue to receive daily intray reports by email.

4.2 Will the formatting restrictions for ARTEmail be less rigid?

The formatting rules for ARTEmail requests remain the same though the rules have been relaxed so that the new system will reject fewer requests

4.3 Do I still use the same message keyword codes when creating an ARTEmail request?

Yes.  There are no new message keyword codes. However some are no longer valid.  A list of valid codes will shortly be available on our website.

The codes will be read by a computer, so it's important that you familiarise yourself with the code formats.  If we receive a request without codes/incorrectly formatted codes, we will assume you require the ordering options stated in your Business Account profile and process your request under those terms and conditions.  The default ordering options are;

BL Search Only (S)
Within 4 days

You can update your Business Account profile with new default ordering options at any time.

4.4 Can default delivery preferences be set up for ARTEmail?

Yes.  You will be able to set and update your Business Account profile, including Ordering Options, at any time from our new Business Account Administration website.  If you do not include ordering options (described by using Message Keyword Codes) in your request we will assume you require the preferences set in your profile and process the request under those terms and conditions.  The default preferences when an account is created (which can be changed) are;
- BL Only Search
- Paper
- Within 4 days

4.5 Will I be able to order via ARTEmail when using 3rd party Library Management platforms?

Yes. You can choose to use ARTEmail exactly as you do now. All the optional services listed under ARTEmail Specific Options in the Business Account Administration website are applicable to Library System requesters.

4.6 I use ARTWEB / PharmaARTWEB. Do I have to do anything?

ARTWEB and PharmaARTWEB are being withdrawn in the new system. You will no longer be able to order in this way.

However, we have an equivalent service which should be easier and yield a higher rate of fulfilment!

If you are searching for an item we do not have article level detail for, you are now able to perform a search for the journal (thanks to vastly improved matching and usage of our catalogue data all journals that we hold at the British Library (and have been catalogued) are searchable). Once you have located the journal, you select this and you will be prompted to supplement the journal description with your citation information. You can then check availability for the item, select your ordering options and proceed with the order as usual .

If you are a user from a company which has previously used the PharmaARTWEB form you simply go through the above process and in the delivery options page you will be able to select the appropriate Pharma delivery options (if available for the item selected and if the business unit/end user is still eligible for Pharma specific delivery options).

4.7 Will I still be able to order via fax?

You will still be able to order via fax, however, the price for making orders via fax will increase.

4.8 When should I use the new services, ‘Get It For Me’ and ‘Find It For Me’?

Both ‘Get It For Me’ (GIFM) and ‘Find It For Me’ (FIFM) are premium services designed to ensure that we are able to meet the requirements of end users even if we do not hold the item ourselves.

If a GIFM request is made for an article by ARTEmail, we will search our own collection first and supply it if possible. If a GIFM request is made for a document that we do not hold ourselves, we will then look outside of our own collection across a network of Document Supply partners. Once we have located the item we will supply it at the cost charged by the end supplier. In all cases a premium service charge will be added.

If a FIFM request is made, we will search for and locate the item. We aim to find the item even if it is not held in the British Library. A small premium service charge will be made to the user. We will inform the user of where the item can be located, and if appropriate users will be able to turn the order in to a GIFM request (in order to then receive it).

These services will compliment our standard Document Supply service and mean that users can feel confident that the British Library will be able to supply/find an even greater percentage of requested items, regardless of where they are held.

5. Order management

5.1 Does the ‘Order Tracking’ window get emptied?

The order tracking window does not automatically empty.

5.2 Is there a way of seeing only current requests?

You can select to 'Show Only Open Orders' or limit the time period e.g. in the 'Last month', 'Last 3 months' etc. You can also use sorting and filtering to find the order you are interested in.

5.3 Can I use online tracking and the administrative tools if I order via ARTEmail?

Yes. You can track the progress of all confirmed orders made using ARTEmail in real time and in plain English from the My Orders/Admin Order Tracking section of our website.

You can download your documents, check the current order status, review your order history, update orders (e.g. cancel orders and renew loans) and report problems (e.g. missing pages in an article).  

5.4 Will online tracking mean we won’t get update emails?


You will receive ARTEmail codes in the same way as now. In addition, you have the option to receive ‘plain English’ (i.e. non-code) emails to supplement the ARTEmail messages. The ARTEmail codes will continue to keep your library system up to date and you can also receive plain English emails to help you understand the order progress without needing to read a manual.

The online tracking will show progress for all requests successfully accepted and matched to our stock (and available under the terms and conditions requested) which are progressing through the service.

You cannot track ‘non-matched’ requests on-line as the request was never accepted. However, you will receive notification when we find no match and you can re-submit once you have investigated further (or corrected any formatting errors). Alternatively, at this point you could also use the FIFM or GIFM services.

5.5 Once I’ve placed an order, can I cancel or change delivery options?

Once an order is placed you can cancel it up until it is “In Process” i.e. until we have started work on it.

You can check the status of an order (and cancel/re-order  it) in the ‘My Orders'/'Admin Order tracking’ section of the new interface. By re-ordering you are able to change delivery options from the original order.

5.6 How do I chase a request?

If the Speed you ordered has passed and you have not had a response from us about your order, you can let us know from the My Orders/Admin Order Tracking on our website.  Just find the order line, select ‘Report Problem’ and 'I haven't received this item'.  Our Customer Service team will investigate and respond as soon as possible.  You can do this online even if you sent the request using ARTEmail.

Alternatively, if you use ARTEmail to send requests, you can continue to use the Message Keyword Code ‘CHASER’ as you currently do.

5.7 How do I renew an item?

If you want to renew a loan before the end of the six week loan period, you can do so online from the My Orders/Admin Order Tracking links on our website.  Simply find your order and select ‘Renew Loan’.  If the Renew Loan button is not active, this means your item is not available for renewal. You can do this online even if you sent the request using ARTEmail.

Alternatively, ARTEmail users may submit renewal requests as they do now, by resubmitting the original order with ‘RENEW’ added to the TX line.

5.8 Does it keep records of old orders?

Yes.  The system will keep a record of all items ordered by all users. As an end user you are able to view all of your own previous orders. As an administrator it will be possible to view your own orders as well as all orders placed by users within your ‘business unit’.

In these order tracking windows it will be possible to filter out which orders you see using the filter bar. Additionally, you can search for a specific order line by typing in relevant order details e.g. requester name, date the order was placed etc.

6. Receiving your order

6.1 Will I still be able to receive items by fax?

Fax delivery will be withdrawn in early 2012. We will give you 3 months' notice of withdrawal and details of the options open to you.

6.2 Will I still be able to receive items by Ariel?

Yes, Ariel is an available delivery option for those customers registered to receive items in that format.

7. Account administration

7.1 Can end user requests be forwarded to the administrator for checking, approval and tracking?  

Yes.  You will be able to update your Business Account profile for General Options at any time, which includes an option to approve all your end user's orders (which includes requests to renew Loans).  

You will be able to access orders waiting for approval from the 'Approval Queue' link on the new interface. You will be able to view the details of the order, change the ordering options, and either approve or reject orders.  We will email your end user keeping them informed of progress and your decision, including alerting them if ordering options have been changed.  

You will be able to track your end users orders from your 'Admin Order Tracking' link. End users will be able to track their own orders from their 'My Orders' link.  

7.2 How do I keep control of my budget if I let end-users order via on-line ordering?

The new system allows you (as an administrator or librarian) to view all orders made by all users against each of your accounts.

You can also implement the “Approve all orders” function which routes all orders made by your end-users via an approvals process offered by the system. You can then choose to approve, reject or even change order details. You can then submit the approved orders to the BL.

Note that we will start our ‘speed of service’ countdown from when we confirm the order. So if your end-user asks for 2 hour service and you don’t approve until the next day, we will only start work after your approval.

You can select to use this option via your Account Management interface.

7.3 How many entries can there be in the address book?

The number of entries an account can input is effectively limitless (The limit would be so high as to be irrelevant), However, we would advise against inputting too many addresses due to the fact that it could become time consuming and/or confusing sorting through them all when making an order.

7.4 When individual users log in, how can they ensure that they’re making a request that will come to the Library for adjudication? And is it possible to have users add library specific details to the order – such as a library card number?

An individual must register on the system before they can use it. If they wish to order against the account of a specific 'business unit' then they must request an administrator of that business unit, at the organisation, to add their id to the business unit.

By logging on, the individual is associated with the appropriate account and this verifies that they are legitimate library users. If an individual is associated with more than 1 account they will be presented with a list of accounts to choose from when they sign in.

Additionally, there is a space for customers to add 'Your reference' and a 'Note to Admin' as part of an order which could be used to enter a library card number. (When validating the orders, administrators could decline an order based on someone failing to add these details and ask the user to make the order again with the appropriate details)

7.5 If I want different users within my organisation to have different permissions, how do I do this?

It is possible that you might have one set of users whom you want to be able to order as many documents as they like, without the orders needing to go to an administrator for approval. You may also have another set of users who have limited ordering rights and whose orders need to be sent for approval.

In this scenario the administrator will need to open two separate document supply accounts with the British Library and have two separate ‘business units’ within the new system. Each Document Supply account will be allocated to a separate ‘business unit’ and each ‘business unit’ can be set up with varying privileges – in this way you can have sets of users with varying permissions.

7.6 Will there still be the same number of British Library coded replies? And will those codes be changing?

The reply codes are not changing and therefore no-one should have to update or change any settings within their Library Management system.

The number of codes we are using has however been considerably reduced. In the old system a user could have received one of 150 codes (including combinations of codes). In the new system this is being reduced to 25. The reduction has been made as there was a lot of repetition in the old system. The new list of codes will be available shortly.

7.7 How do I add people to my account?

The end user must have successfully completed the Online Account Registration process within and activated their account (by clicking on the link in the activation email sent to them) before they can be associated with your business account.

Within the administrative suite of tools will be an option for adding users to a ‘business unit’ account. The process involves simply entering the specific users username (email address) and Online Account ID and then verifying that they are legitimate individuals to order on your account.

At this point, an administrator can set and manage the users 'business unit' relationship start and end dates and assign their permissions, i.e. 'Allowed to request loans'/'Allowed to request copies'.  

There will also be the option to ‘bulk add’ users. An excel spreadsheet can be uploaded to the system and users will be automatically added. Instructions on how to format this spreadsheet can be found in the ‘bulk add’ section of the admin tools.

7.8 Can access rights be set through a bulk upload

When adding bulk users you can assign permissions, however that set of permissions will be applied to all users in that bulk upload. However, it would then be possible to edit individual user’s permissions as necessary.

7.9 Can an administrator restrict access to 2/24 hour services?

Administrators can set defaults for delivery speed in their Business Account profile.  However, currently this will not prevent an end user from choosing an alternative speed.  If you choose to approve your end users orders however, you can change their ordering options.

7.10 Will the system show how much we have spent each month?

No, this information will not be available within the interface. We are however looking at including this functionality in 2012.

Administrators will still receive monthly invoices/statements with this information.

7.11 Can request limits be assigned to end users?

No, currently the system does not allow limits or restrictions to be placed for the amount a certain user can request. We are however looking at including this functionality in 2012.

However, it is possible for Administrators to approve orders from users and also view how many orders that user has made in the past by clicking on the 'Admin Order Tracking' link and using the ‘requestor’ filter.

7.12 How will ‘ADD address’ (The current term used to describe the process of entering a custom delivery address) work in the new system?

If you send your requests using ARTEmail, the process for requesting an alternative delivery address will not change, though the maximum number of characters for email addresses is now 40 (7 more than previously).

If you use the website to place orders, you can create and update your Business Account Address Book at any time from our new Business Account Administration website, then; at the point of adding an order to your basket you will be able to select an address from your address book.  Alternatively, you can update your Business Account profile for General Options - 'Override Delivery Address For Loans' /  'Override Delivery Address For Loans' to ‘Yes’, which allows you and your end users to enter alternative delivery addresses at the point of adding an order to a basket.

7.13 Can I continue to receive more than 1 Replies Intray each day?

Yes.  The options for receiving Replies Intray (both computer-readable and plain English) are either '1 response per day', or '1 response per update'. The default is '1 response per day', but you can change these options within your Business Account profile at any time.

The system will no longer send ‘empty’ intray messages as it currently does.  

You can also track the progress of confirmed order lines in real time and in plain English on our website, even if you placed the request using ARTEmail.