How to order from On Demand online

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Everything you need to know about using our online ordering interface registering and searching to submitting and paying for your order

The British Library On Demand online ordering interface lets you order items easily from the British Library collection, check availability and price before you order, and easily manage your orders and account information.

Before using this service, please refer to our terms and conditions.

Registering and logging in

You can search our collections without logging in or registering. You only need to log-in when you want to order documents or check earlier orders.

You can log-in or register at any time using the links at the top right of the page.

Customers with a business account must log-in to see pricing and delivery options specific to their account.

If your organisation has an account with On Demand they may receive options and benefits which are not available to Pay As You Go customers. Depending on your organisation's policy, you may be able to be associated with their account and take advantage of their benefits when ordering direct from On Demand. Alternatively, your local public, university or work library may order on your behalf. Ask them for further information.

If your organisation is interested in opening an account with British Library On Demand, please contact Customer Services on +44 (0)1937 546060.


British Library On Demand offers access to a huge collection of material. While we have 42 million article level records available for searching through our online ordering interface and API, some of our material is searchable only at title level. Additionally, we hold items in our collections for which there are currently no online catalogue records available.

To help you find these items, we recommend you take the following steps when searching:

  1. Search for your item of interest, for example using the article title, article author or keywords. Then if you don't find the item you want;
  2. Search for the journal title. Where we hold a title we generally have the full run of issues and will be able to supply you with the article you need.
  3. Select the relevant title and you will be prompted for more details about your specific item of interest. Please give us as much accurate information as you can to help us locate it.

Please note that if you submit an order for an item we are unable to supply, you will not be charged.

Selecting order options

Once you have found the item you want to order, you will be able to check the item’s availability, select delivery options and view the price and estimated despatch date.  Business account customers will need to log-in in order to see account specific options and prices, including any copyright fees applicable.

If you select ‘Encrypted Download’ as your delivery option you will receive your document in your preferred copy encryption format.  For pay-as you-go customers this is DRM Lite.  Documents are password protected and you only need your On Demand username and password to open them. Business account customers can change their preferred copy encryption format in the Business Account Administration section of the online ordering interface. Alternatively, Customer Services can update your preferences.

Some encryption formats require you to install software plug-ins in order to open your document.  Please make sure you have the correct software installed before you submit your order as order cannot be cancelled once they are confirmed unless they have been added to a waiting list. More information about encryption format options is available at our help page about how to open your order.

For articles that are scanned from print On Demand offers a choice of standard or high copy quality. A Standard Quality copy is a legible working copy produced in colour, greyscale or black and white to match the colour profile of the original page and is scanned at 150dpi. A High Quality copy is produced in colour, greyscale or black and white to match the colour profile of the original page using specialist high quality scanners. It is scanned at a specific resolution to suit the material type, followed by image clean-up and post processing.

As you select delivery options, the real-time availability and price of the item will be displayed. Licensing agreements specific to the customer and publisher determine the price and choice of delivery formats and only delivery options available for the item will be shown. The price will also include VAT. Read more about how VAT is charged in EU countries.

Submitting your order

After you have selected your delivery options you will be able to enter or select a saved delivery address and then add the item to your basket. You do not commit to anything until you have submitted the order from your basket.

Once the order has been submitted, On Demand works to fulfil each item independently. Each item will be processed individually and delivered separately. Individual charges will also be applied for item supplied. If, for any reason, we are unable to supply an item, no charge will be applied.

Paying for your order

We do not ask for any credit or debit card information during the registration process. You only need to enter credit or debit card information when you are submitting your orders. This data is sent directly to our payment service provider, not to the British Library. This information is not stored by the Library and you will need to re-enter it each time you order.

If you order multiple items in a single order, we will pre-authorise your credit card for the full amount. However, payment is not charged to your card until the point of supply and is taken individually for each order line supplied, therefore you may see several charges applied against this single authorisation. However, the total sum authorised is the maximum that will be charged to your card. We will never exceed the total sum authorised. We are unable to accept one time virtual disposable credit card payments.

Managing your order

Once we have confirmed that we can supply the items in your order, they will appear in the My Orders section.  Here you can check the current status of your orders and to take action on them. This screen lists your orders in reverse chronological order of our receipt date and time. You can re-arrange the displayed list by clicking on any column header and you can search for a specific item using the filter function.

More information on an order may be found by clicking on the order line number. Full details of the order are shown, as well as an order history showing each event with a date and time.

If you ordered the item to be supplied electronically, you can download the item from the order history as well as from the download email you received.

Managing your account

You can access other British Library services you use and update your personal account details and default ordering options in the My Account section. Business account administrators can also manage their organisational accountby contacting Customer Services.

For further queries about using our ordering interface or managing your orders or account, please contact our Customer Services team.