Copies and interlibrary loans for libraries 

The Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Policy details the National Library’s approach to providing offsite access for other libraries to the Library’s collection. 

Consistent with this policy, the National Library has implemented a digital first approach to interlibrary loans. This means the Library will supply a digital surrogate in place of the original physical item where possible within copyright and other rights obligations. 

Why digital first? 

Adoption of a digital first approach increases the amount of digitised content available online through Trove, for the benefit of all Australians. It also reduces the risk of collection material being damaged or lost in transit, or being out of circulation while on loan to another library.  

What does digital first mean? 

In response to a request from another library for an interlibrary loan, we will provide a digitised copy. The digitised copy will be delivered to the requesting library via their resource sharing service, and can be incorporated into the requesting library’s collection, within copyright, cultural and other rights obligations. 

The original physical item will only be loaned in limited circumstances where: 

  • a digitised copy cannot be provided under the terms of the Copyright Act 1968 (applies to material which is in copyright and is readily commercially available) OR 

  • a physical copy is needed for accessibility purposes 

Who can use the interlibrary loan and document delivery service? 

Interlibrary lending (loans) and document delivery (copies) are standard resource sharing services engaged in by most libraries. Resource sharing enables a library to obtain materials that it cannot otherwise purchase because they fall outside the scope of the library's collection development policy or are not available, for example the material is out of print.  

Trove Partner and other libraries may request loans or digitised copies through the National Library’s interlibrary loan service. Trove Partners should submit a loan or copy request through their own resource sharing service. Libraries who are not Trove Partners should register as a member to place a loan or copy request. 

International libraries (other than New Zealand and the near Pacific) may request digitised copies only. Physical items are no longer loaned to international institutions (other than New Zealand and the near Pacific). 

Individuals should submit interlibrary loan requests for material held by the National Library through their local or research library’s interlibrary loan service. 

How do libraries place a Copy request? 

Libraries can place requests for digitised copies via the Copy request option of the requesting library’s resource sharing service. Where requests comply with copyright and other rights obligations, a quote for providing a digitised copy will be provided to the requesting library. Once the requesting library accepts the quote, the digitised copy will be sent to the requesting library via their resource sharing service. 

Where a digitised copy cannot be provided within copyright and other rights constraints, the Copy request will be rejected and the requesting library will be advised to submit a Loan request. 

Can libraries still submit a Loan request? 

Libraries can submit a loan request where it meets one of the exceptions above for provision of a physical loan via the Loan request option of the requesting Library’s resource sharing service. The loan will be supplied in accordance with library sector standard timeframes for resource sharing. 

Where the loan request does not meet one of the exceptions above, we will reject your Loan request and it will be passed on to the next library on the rota. You will also be advised that should you wish to purchase a digitised copy, you can re-submit your request via the Copy option. 

What if the requesting library prefers to receive a physical loan? 

Consistent with the digital first approach, the National Library will only provide physical loans in limited circumstances. Where a physical loan is preferred, libraries should place loan requests with reciprocal lending partners within their established networks. 

How much does it cost? 

Digitised copies of published items are charged in accordance with the Australian library sector standard (ILRS) fees for copies. For details, see Service levels and charges

ILRS Loan fees are charged for provision of a physical item, where the conditions for a physical loan are met. 

Special collection material is not available for loan. Digitised copies of special collection material can be requested through the Copies Direct service at Copies Direct prices.  

What about incoming interlibrary loans to the National Library? 

The digital first approach does not apply to incoming interlibrary loan requests. National Library users may place Interlibrary Loan requests for material from other libraries to be made available to them in the National Library reading rooms. Where the loaned item is in a physical format, it will be provided in the original physical format to the client. For more details, see Interlibrary loans for individuals


Please email Digitisation on Demand with any enquiries. Our business hours are 9.00am - 5.00pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time), Monday to Friday.