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Document Supply

Answers to your questions about document supply from a publisher's perspective.

How do researchers find and order content?

Registered customers 

Registered customers can request items directly via our automated requesting systems or by using either British Library Direct Plus or British Library Inside service which provides advanced article level searching.

Non-registered customers

Non-registered customers can either use the British Library Direct online service which lists over 9 million articles or the Articles Direct order form for items which are not covered by British Library Direct. The customer must provide their details each time a request is made. Articles can also be ordered via intermediaries like Ingenta Connect that enable the end user to search the British Library database via the intermediary interface.

How is content delivered to the end user?

Copies are sent to researchers either by FileOpen, Secure Electronic Delivery (SED), Ariel, fax or postal delivery. The two-hour SED service always requires a copyright fee to be paid. All copies are taken from print copies of journals except where the Library has been licensed to take copies from electronic content. The Library is licensed to provide commercial copies under the terms of an agreement with the Copyright Licensing Agency but copies are not taken from CLAX (Copyright Licensing Agency Excluded) titles.

What is SED?

SED or Secure Electronic Delivery is a form of digital rights management that enables the Library to control access to copies delivered electronically. Researchers can only download and print an article once.


The document is protected by either Adobe Digital Editions or FileOpen software both of which the end user must activate before the article can be downloaded. The electronic copy is removed from our servers as soon as the document is downloaded.  The end user can choose their preferred delivery method from the two options available

What is Ariel?

Ariel is a method of sending and receiving documents electronically where the format is higher quality than fax. End users must have purchased Ariel software to receive documents in this way.