Preorders and reserves

The General Reading Room accepts requests to have books placed on reserve in preparation for a planned visit.

Online request system

If you are a registered reader you can order material on the main catalogue via the online book request system. We will keep the items on reserve for you for six working days.

Use this system to order:

  • Books and monographs published after 1850 which you consult in the General Reading Room
  • Pre-1851 and special collection material which you consult in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Book requests go automatically to our Bookfetching Units.

  • To use the request system: Search the main catalogue for the book you want. Once you have found the individual record for the book, choose 'Request' and follow the online instructions to place your order.

    A brief guide to using the system is available via the 'Help' option on the page. For more detailed instructions, see our online request system guide.


How to order other types of material

Some items are not available to preorder online:

  • Journals, newspapers
  • Serial publications (e.g. annual directories)
  • Maps
  • Pre-1501 books (incunables, shelfmark: Inc)
  • Microfilms, microfiche, CD-ROMs, audio-visual material
  • Legal material held by the Advocates Library
  • Material on the open shelves in the General Reading Room.

You must preorder these by completing a printed application slip or by emailing your request to


Preordering without a library card

If you have not yet registered as a reader, or do not have a valid library card, you may request up to six books by post, fax, or email, or two books by telephone. See enquiries page for contact details.

To consult the material in the reading rooms, you must have a library card. You can start the registration process online.


How much advance notice to give us

You must submit your preorders at least two days before your planned visit. You can collect the items from the Issue Desk when you arrive. This service is particularly useful if the books you wish to consult are stored offsite.


Reserving items at the end of your visit

If you have not completed your research by the end of your visit, you may normally reserve up to six items for later use.

We will keep them on reserve for six working days, and return them to the shelves if they are not consulted during that period.

To reserve items, you must fill in a reservation slip when returning material to the Issue Desk.


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