Explore the British Library: How to order collections items

Example of item details for a record in Explore the British Library

We may have more than one holding, or item, of a title you wish to see; you choose which item to order.

During the order process, the catalogue displays:

  • brief bibliographic information for the title you want
  • our holdings, for the title, and the delivery time for each holding

If the item is not a newspaper or journal, for each copy of the item we hold, we display the:

  • Shelfmark
  • Availability
  • Delivery time.

To order, click the 'Select' button, alongside the copy you want, and click Add to basket.

If the item is a newspaper or journal, for each copy of the item we hold, we display 'Search a year range' boxes.

You should select a year in both the 'From' and 'To' boxes and click 'Search'.

The results will display below; you may need to toggle the items displayed to see all items available. For each copy of the item we hold you will see the:

  • Date range
  • Shelfmark
  • Format
  • Availability
  • Delivery time.

To order, click the 'Select' button, alongside the copy/copies you want, and click Add to basket.

More information is available as to why:

Add to basket

For some items, once you click Add to basket the Basket screen will display immediately and the item you require will be listed at the top of your basket .

For other items you will need to:

  • Input a Year or Volume
  • Input a note if this helps identify the item
  • Click Confirm.

NB: Sometimes you won't be prompted to supply year or volume details until you click Confirm.

When the Basket screen displays the item(s) you require will listed at the top of your basket.

You can order the item in your basket or you can return to Explore the British Library, using the breadcrumb below the banner, to search for more items to add to your basket.

More information

A particular copy is pre-selected

The system will pre-select the item with the quickest delivery time, if that item is available.

Items cannot be selected

Items may not be selectable because they are not available. They may not be available for a number of reasons, e.g. in use, damaged, being moved,on exhibit. As you cannot request these item they are not available for selection.

The 'Add to basket' button is not available (greyed out) 

If the item, or all copies of an item, are not available to order the 'Add to basket' button will be available.