How to request items not in the catalogue

On Demand - iPad content

You can use 'Request Other Items' to order items which have no record in Explore the British Library. Also to order most items found in Explore Archives and Manuscripts.

Published date:

You need a Reader Pass to request items to view in our Reading Rooms.

How you request items, which are not recorded in our online catalogue, differs according to the item's Collection Area:

Document Supply

To request an item:

  • Complete the mandatory Shelfmark field
  • Enter Author and/or Title and /or Year information, if you wish (these are not mandatory fields)
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

Humanities and Social Sciences Collection

To request an item:

  • Complete the mandatory Shelfmark field
  • Enter Author and/or Title and /or Year information, if you wish (these are not mandatory fields)
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

Maps Collection

To request an item:

  • Complete the mandatory Shelfmark field
  • Enter Author and/or Title and /or More information, if you wish (these are not mandatory fields)
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

Maps (OS large scale pre-1950)

To request an item, complete the mandatory fields:

  • Select the appropriate Country button
  • Enter the County Name
  • Select the appropriate Scale
  • Enter a Sheet No. or Parish; if you wish you can also specify a Subsheet but this field is not mandatory
  • Select an Edition
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

Maps (OS large scale post 1950)

To request an item:

  • Select the appropriate Scale button
  • Enter the National Grid letters
  • Enter the National Grid Numbers
  • Select the Quadrant
  • Enter Notes, if you wish (this field is not mandatory)
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

Music Collection

To request an item:

  • Select a music collection from the drop-down list, for example Printed Music, Additional Manuscripts.
  • Enter the mandatory Shelfmark of the item you require (see below)
  • Enter a Name and/or Title and /or Year, if you wish (these are not mandatory fields)
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

NB: For all but the Printed Music, Misc. Music Manuscripts and Microforms collections, the system will supply the shelfmark prefix; this part of the shelfmark should be omitted from your input, e.g.:

Music collections Shelfmark
Printed Music h.1234
Additional Manuscripts For Add MS 22099 enter 22099
Egerton Manuscripts For Egerton MS 995 enter 995
Harley Manuscripts For Harley MS 1501 enter 1501
Hirsch For Hirsch III 568 enter III 568
King's Manuscripts For King's MS 318 enter 318
Loan Manuscripts For Music Loan 91.5 enter 91/5
Madrigal Manuscripts For Mad.Soc.21.(78.) enter 21.(78.)
Misc. Music Manuscripts A.339.b
MS. Mus. Manuscripts For MS Mus. 2 enter 2
Royal Manuscripts For Royal MS 14 A.XXII enter 14/A/22
Royal Appendix Manuscripts For Royal Appendix MS 41 enter 41
Royal Music Library (R.M.) Manuscripts For R.M.20.h.8 enter 20.h.8
Royal Philharmonic Society Manuscripts For RPS MS 1 enter 1
Sloane Manuscripts For Sloane MS 3992 enter 3992
Zweig Manuscripts For Zweig MS 129 enter 129
Reserved Photocopies For MUS RP 7063/1 enter 7063/1
Microforms MUS/MFM/2502 or Mus. Mic. A. 6316

Request for today

If you only wish to order the one item to a Reading Room:

  • Click Request for today.
    • If the item is not a journal, or book-in-series:
      • Select a Reading Location
      • Click Confirm; a pop-up window confirms whether the item has been requested.
      • Close this window to return to Explore the British Library.
    • If the item is a journal, or book-in-series:
      • Input a Year or Volume
      • Input a note if this helps identify the item
      • Select a Reading Location
      • Click Confirm; a pop-up window confirms whether the item has been requested.
      • Close this window to return to Explore the British Library.

Add to basket

Click Add to basket if you wish to order a number of items to a Reading Room, or make an advance request.

For all items, except for journals or books-in-series, a message confirms that the item has been added to your basket. If the item is a journal, or book-in-series, in the pop-up that displays:

  • Enter a Year or Volume
  • Enter a note if this helps identify the item
  • Click Confirm; a message confirms that the item has been added to your basket.

You can add more items to your basket or, to request item(s) in your Basket, click the 'Basket' link in the top right of the screen (next to the Logout button).

Items not requested will remain in your basket for up to 90 days but they are still available for other people to request.

Electoral Registers

The Electoral Registers form that you use to request registers is found in Explore the British Library under 'Request Other Items'. You will be prompted to login before you can view the form and request the items.

To use the form to request Electoral registers you will need to know:

  • Whether the register pre-dates 1997 or post-dates 1997.
  • The shelfmark of the register.
  • The constituency.

To help you identify these details our website has information on:

For further information, or help with ordering, please consult with staff at the Reference Enquiries Desk in the Social Sciences Reading Room, or contact:

Social Sciences Reference Service
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7894
E-mail: Ask the Reference Team

To request an Electoral Register, other than a microfilm item:

  • Select Electoral Registers
  • Check the 'Up to 1997' or 'From 1998' radio button.
  • Enter the Shelfmark (this field is mandatory).
  • Enter the Constituency.
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

To request a microfilm Electoral Register (shelfmarks beginning with SPR.Mic.P):

  • Select Humanities and Social Sciences Collection.
  • Enter the Shelfmark (this field is mandatory).
  • Enter the Constituency in the title field.
  • Click Request for today or Add to basket.

Request for today

If you only wish to order the one item to a Reading Room:

  • Click Request for today.
  • Input a Year (this field is mandatory).
    NB: Only one year can be requested at a time; you cannot order consecutive years for electoral registers.
  • Input a note if this helps identify the item.
  • The Reading Location is pre-selected as these items can only be read in the Social Sciences Reading Room.
  • Click Confirm.

A pop-up window confirms whether the item has been requested. Close this window to return to Explore the British Library.

Add to basket

If you wish to order a number of items to a Reading Room, or make an advance request:

  • Click Add to basket.
  • Input a Year (this field is mandatory).
    NB: Only one year can be requested at a time; you cannot order consecutive years for electoral registers.
  • Input a note if this helps identify the item.
  • Click Confirm; and you will be advised that the item has been added to your basket.

You can add more items to your basket or, to Request item(s) in your Basket, click the Basket link in the top right of the screen (next to the Logout button).

Items not requested will remain in your basket for up to 90 days but they are still available for other people to request.

Collection guides

The King's Library

The collection of George III includes thousands of books and pamphlets

Thomason Tracts

A key source for the English Civil War in the mid-17th century

Burney collection

Largest single collection of 17th and 18th-century English newspapers available

Scandinavian printed collections

One of the richest collections of books from the Scandinavian countries

Garrick Collection of English Plays

David Garrick's collection of 16th and 17th-century printed plays

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin collection of books

German printed collections

Early and modern material printed in the German-speaking countries

Russian avant-garde collections

An extensive collection of avant-garde books of the early 20th century

Spanish printed collections

Includes 16,600 Spanish books published before 1801

French printed collections

Incunabula, books, journals, maps and music

French Revolutionary Tracts

50,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals printed in France between the 1780s and 1840s

Modern Greek printed collections

One of the world's finest collections of Greek and Cyprus imprints

Italian printed collections

Our Italian collections cover all periods and a wide variety of subjects

Portuguese printed collections

Contemporary and antiquarian material, including 225 books published in Portugal before 1601

Digitised printed books (18th-19th century)

Over 60,000 out-of-copyright digitised books from the 18th and 19th century available for viewing, search, download and digital research.