Use these guidelines conjunction with any regional/local guidelines.

5.  Responsibilities of the requesting library 

Use INCDocs first.  This uses DOIs and PMIDs where there is also a DOI.

If a request is urgent, contact the organisation which INCDocs has selected and ask if they can meet the deadline.  If they cannot, do not place the request; instead re-request via INCDocs. If they can, place the request.

There is no limit on the amount of times you can put the same article request through INCDocs, but if you receive three declines, try an alternative source.

Ensure all details of the request are correct and complete before submission. 

  1. Full citation details (or commonly understood abbreviations).

  1. First author.

  1. First few words of the title.

For books, as a minimum: 

  1. Author.

  1. Title.

  1. Year.

  1. Edition (if applicable).

For all requests: 

  • your network and library code  

  • your e-mail address (not for INCDocs)

  • your full postal address (not for INCDocs)

  • request number (if required for library management systems) (for INCDocs add your INC code here)

  • the date the you are placing the request (not for INCDocs)

For data protection reasons, do not include the requester’s details. 

Unless you use a shared request management system, or using INCDocs, send requests via e-mail.  Include a clear indication in subject line whether it is document or loan you are requesting.  

Urgent INC Scheme requests may be made by phone but use discretion when describing requests as urgent. 

If you need more than three requests from the same library at the same time, contact the library before applying to discuss, unless there is already an arrangement in place.  

Do not: 

  • make requests that would infringe copyright if supplied; if a declaration is required for the copy being requested, it is your responsibility to obtain this 

  • request any article that you are able to access electronically, unless for any reason you cannot access it yourself within the required timeframe

  • create a digital copy of a print article if there is an electronic copy available and accessible within the required timeframe in the NHS in England (in order to comply with the CLA licence)

  • request multiple copies of single items

  • assume that book loans will be renewed

  • apply to more than one library in more than one collaborative network on the same request (individual network protocols may vary)


  • assume that a declaration is required, unless you know that the copy will be supplied under the terms of the CLA Licence

  • request items which are included in journal bundles from your own network before approaching libraries in other networks

  • include the correct copyright statement with the copy supplied (see appendix B)

6.  Responsibilities of the supplying library 

Keep your holdings data up to date and accurate.  This includes Holdings Management, but also library management systems and other ILDS systems. 

You must supply for INCDocs requests.  You may only decline if:

  • the journal is part of a token access, or pay-as-you-go collection
  • inaccurate holdings indicate access when in fact you don't have access
  • the CLA Check Permissions tool shows the journal is excluded from the NHS Licence for digitial copying
  • the request has been declined previously
  • there are technical issues which prevent the downloading of the requested article

See what are the copyright implications of INCDocs? for information about copyright and the statement to send to your requestors, if you are supplying articles to an NHS library via INCDocs.

Requests should be processed as soon as possible after receipt, preferably within 24 hours, and certainly no later than two working days.  

If you are unable to supply within this period, let the requesting library know as soon as possible and the reason.  The requesting library may cancel the request and request from another library.

If you are unable to handle ILDS for a period of time, due to library closure or short staffing, suspend your organisation from INCDOcs via the service desk.

Supply articles electronically. 

Where post must be used, second class post is assumed. Items should be sent in secure, protective and clearly addressed packaging. Do not use staples.  

Page last reviewed: 1 December 2023