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NILDE (Network for Inter-Library Document Exchange) is a web software for the document delivery among libraries.

Over time, a network of libraries has been growth (NILDE Community), willing to share their bibliographic resources in a spirit of mutual collaboration in order to provide their users with an high-quality document delivery service using NILDE software (see NILDE Regulation)

Within the NILDE community libraries exchange documents almost always for free, in compliance with copyright law and licence agreements with publishers.


Interlibrary services such as the Interlibrary loan (ILL), and document delivery (DD) are services  under which one library (the requesting library) places a request on behalf of its users with another library (the fulfilling library) for materials that the requesting library does not possess or cannot be immediately provided by the library.


Consultation of bibliographic resources is an essential part of research work in any field of application. Nilde was initially born from the need to create advanced services for finding scientific documents among CNR libraries.

The first software prototype was created by the Bologna CNR Research Area Library as part of the CNR research project  BiblioMime.

Since then the service offered by the software has been increasingly successful, allowing the creation and growth of a network among libraries belonging to Italian universities, public research organizations, biomedical research institutions, public or special libraries.

Click here if you want to learn more...


The NILDE Network is formed by public or private libraries (provided that they are no-profit!)

Up to now almost 900 libreries partecipate to the NILDE Network. They belong to different nations, research institutions and disciplinary fields.

About 70000 users among researchers, students, professionals or common citizens benefit about NILDE services.


The NILDE network is formed by no-profit public or private libraries.

To join the network here is the link for libraries.

With registration, libraries undertake to comply with the NILDE Regulation.

The network manager will accept the registration request sending an e-mail to the library enabling the services.

If you are interested, please, read the librarian manual

Common users, to join NILDE Network, must to register themselves at a library belonging to the NILDE Network.

Here you can find the NILDE network library closest to you.

If you are a student or an employee of a University or public body, please look for your institution's library and register for the NILDE service.

The users manual could you give more info.





The NILDE software allows users of Community libraries to request any document they need, such as a scientific publication, article or a book chapter.

The NILDE software allows each Community library to:

  • offer its users a high quality document delivery service for any document;
  • manage documents requests from other libraries in an automated way and forward their own requests to other libraries inside the Community;
  • manage the document delivery in a secure electronic way (SEDD) through a web interface of a dedicated server;
  • have a detailed and up-to-date budget of requests made between libraries, with the possibility to evaluate and compare the libraries performances, or the same library over the years;
  • Automatic detection of quality indicators such as “success rate” and“delivery time”of the Document Delivery service;
  • Be part of a Community based on the sharing of good practices, tools and policies for the continuous improvement of library services.

NILDE supports the entire workflow of Document Delivery/ILL. The workflow starts with the initial user request to his library and ends with the delivery notification to him by his library.

In the middle of there is the interlibrary lending process between the user's library and one or more supplier libraries.

Not all libraries take full advantage of all the NILDE features: some libraries choose to use NILDE only to manage the request process between libraries, without managing end-user requests.soltanto per gestire il processo di richiesta tra le biblioteche, senza la gestione delle richieste degli utenti finali.

Here you can learn how to use nilde at best!


Development, management and maintenance costs of the NILDE software are borne by the Area Library of the CNR of Bologna.

Libraries participating in the NILDE Community contribute by paying a subscription fee.
The library subscription fee is free for the first year, then varies depending on the type of institution and the number of requests made in the previous year.
For more info go to the Subscription section

The service is free of charge for users registered with the Community libraries.


NILDE software is based on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) architecture so can be used by any user with an Internet connection and Web browser.

The user interface is based on XHTML, CSS and AJAX. Thanks to UTF-8 data encoding, NILDE supports multiple languages. The user interface can be easily translated in any language; it is currently provided in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Greek.

More informations abot the technologies here.


Copyright law in the European countries has been reformed after 2001 according to the EU  Directive 2001/29/EC on the armonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (usually referred to as the SocInfo Directive).  

The ILL activity carried out by libraries would be allowed by the SocInfo Directive’s article 5 on limitations and exceptions (article 5 (2) c) on  “specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries, …”). According to authoritative scholars 1,2  ILL, even with “point-to-point” electronic transmission of the “graphic document”, does not appear in contrast with the SocInfo Directive.  However, electronic document delivery involves an array of complex copyright issues, many of which were raised in a Court case involving Subito, the German library document delivery service provided by the main German libraries, as well as Austrian and Swiss libraries. Publishers, fearing the economic damage caused by ILL due to cancellations of current journals subscriptions, questioned the compliance of electronic document delivery services with German copyright law and the SocInfo Directive. As a result, the German law introduced a new copyright provision on electronic document delivery, which was explicitly considered and allowed “under certain conditions”.
Moreover, since limitations and exceptions of the SocInfo Directive are not mandatory to EU member states, they have been adopted in a variety of ways in the national legislations. It is clear that the SocInfo Directive failed in its initial objective of copyright armonisation and that fragmented implementation of exceptions has resulted in increasing barriers to cross-border access to content in Europe, instead than avoiding them.
Document delivery carried out by libraries is an example of such a fragmentation. Some member states clearly discipline it within the framework of library services: UK3, Germany4 and Denmark5 do so. Some other member states, like Spain6 and Italy, do not explicitly mention it and leave it within generic exceptions related to certain reproduction acts allowed to libraries and archives. The Italian law7 allows such reproductions through solely “photocopy, xerox or analogous system”, thus referring to a specific medium.  On the contrary, the recently changed UK law spells out a modern and more flexible framework for copyright exceptions for libraries, archives and museums within the boundaries of non commercial research and private study, since it allows librarians to assist researchers and students by providing copies of “limited parts” of a copyright work, “regardless of the medium” in which it is recorded.

In the NILDE Rules and Regulation compliance with copyright law is clearly stated8. Libraries pledge themselves:

  1. "to request documents on behalf of their qualified users who will undertake it for exclusive personal use for educational and research purposes;
  2. to send photocopies of the requested documents or to make temporary digital copy (tiff, pdf) of the same for the one and only purpose of accelerating the transmission process; whereas the utilization of the digital copy, unless the existing contractual clauses do not permit otherwise, remains in every case limited to the sole possibility of making it a single hardcopy;
  3. unless the existing contractual clauses do not permit otherwise, to deliver to the user a single paper copy of the document, destroying any digital copy received.”

Summing up, in NILDE the received digital copy is temporary, it has always to be printed and such printed copy is the only one to be delivered to the end-user. “Unfortunately" several user satisfaction survey conducted within NILDE to assess the ILL services show how important the electronic version of documents is for end users, which, on the other hand, are completely unaware of the copyright and licensing restrictions imposed to their libraries…

Another important aspect to be considered is the restrictions imposed by licenses of e-resources.



NILDE Network is composed by public and private libraries.

To join the Network, libraries must register here

By registering, libraries undertake to comply with the NILDE Rules.

The Nilde Administrator will accept the registration request and send an e-mail to the library to enable the service.

Il Gestore accetterà la richiesta di registrazione e invierà alla biblioteca una e-mail di abilitazione al servizio.

If you are interested , please, read the user manual for librarians.



The renewal of the subscription is open from January to March, without interruption of the service.

The procedure can be activated directly in your account by a link indicating the opening of the subscription period.

During the subscription process you can change all the data regulating the DD service stored in the system.

The cost per article to the NILDE libraries and the imbalance threshold can only be changed during this procedure.

The renewal of the subscription is subject to payment on the basis of the group membership of the subscriber.

Online registration has all the effects of order value, and therefore the CNR Research Area of Bologna will immediately issue invoice for the amount, if due.



NILDE supports the entire work flow of ILL requests, starting from a patron request to their library, and ending with patron notification of delivery by the library. In between there is the Inter-Library Loan process between the requesting library and one or more lending libraries. Not all libraries use the full available NILDE functionalities: in fact, they may use NILDE only to manage the ILL process between libraries, without managing end-users requests, or managing them elsewhere. At present, there are about 50 thousands NILDE end-users which are registered at their libraries (83% are academic users, 11% are at health research institutions, 3% are at other public research institutions).

A sample work flow could be the following: a patron discovers a bibliographic reference in any of the library resources, let’s say they find it in a bibliographic database, or in library discovery tool. These must have been configured in order to make the request to the ILL service smooth. Usually a “Request by NILDE” button or a library link resolver button will be available and it will send request to NILDE via OpenURL. NILDE will ask the patron for authentication. Patron may select “federated authentication”, using single-sign on. It means they will be redirected to their Institutional Identity provider for authentication (of course, NILDE supports traditional on-site authentication too, it means patron has their own NILDE credentials). After logged in NILDE, patron sends the ILL request with just one click: in fact the request is already filled with complete bibliographic data.

ILL librarians will manage all user requests through their NILDE borrowing panel. For each request NILDE will automatically query all the connected catalogs through Z39.50, looking for suppliers.  Libraries holding the specific item will be displayed for each union or virtual catalog. The order supplier libraries are displayed is based on a “ranking” algorithm. There is no automatic sending of the ILL request at this stage (unlike in other ILL systems): librarian will select a supplier library, with just one click. The ranking algorithm calculates on the fly the imbalance between borrowing and lending requests issued/received by each library in the current year. Libraries with the highest imbalance are shown on top of the list. Rank suggests the most suitable library to receive a borrowing request, to help that library equilibrate any imbalance (and to better distribute requests in the overall system). However, the requesting library is free to choose the preferred supplier.

The selected library receives the request; ILL librarians will manage it through their NILDE lending panel. If a link resolver has been configured, librarians may verify if the item is in their holdings with just one click, and directly access to it in case of an electronic item. The “Find licenses” button will help to find the proper license for that e-item; if a license is found and selected (among a list of licenses), NILDE will apply the license restrictions (or no restrictions if there aren’t) and let librarians fulfill the request according to them, either selecting the NILDE SEDD module to upload the file, or selecting another traditional transmission method (mail or fax or other e-systems, like Ariel etc..). In case of SEDD, NILDE starts processing the uploaded file behind the scenes, performing the Digital Hard Copy. This processing will usually take a few minutes.

Request fulfillment, or un-fulfillment, will be notified to the requesting library in their NILDE borrowing panel, and also via e-mail. If SEDD transmission has been used, librarian may open the file and print it directly from the NILDE interface; then notifies patron that article has been received and available at the library or in the internal mailing system. This ends the process.


E-resources are nowdays the most represented in academic and research libraries collections. Exceptions and limitations for libraries provided by copyright laws have become “license to use” under contract law. In fact, in all but four EU member states (Belgium, Ireland, Portugal and UK) contract terms can override existing copyright exceptions.

A NILDE working group was set up in 2005 to examine the licenses on electronic journals in Italy. The purpose of the group was to foster communication between librarians and consortia negotiating with publishers, to stimulate them to be more aware about ILL clauses in licenses. As a consequence, the NILDE system has been recognized by many publishers as a “secure electronic system” or an “Ariel or fax-like equivalent system” to supply (single) copies from their licensed material. Publisher’s requirements have driven the implementation of NILDE SEDD module. In these cases, a proactive and careful negotiation, carried out through years, has led to suitable licensing conditions.

Licensing restrictions give rise to many issues on ILL practices. One main issue is the difficulty of identifying the “proper” license applying to each e-journal to be supplied by the library, and to know if they have a license that enables them to share an item with another library. It has been found in several studies that “the license checking that is required inhibits fulfillment more than the licenses restrictions do themselves” 1. Since licenses are often written in technical, legal and sometimes vague language, license text interpretation is another common issue.
In this rather complex context, full of “lights and shadows”, NILDE launched the ALPE project, aimed to develop a framework for ILL librarians to comply with licenses, to automate the license checking and comprehension process during the ILL activity and to allow exchange of ILL rights data across systems.
ALPE (E-Journals Licenses Database) is a national archive of ILL clauses, extracted from standard and negotiated licenses, to manage, to publicly share and to check the permitted uses of e-resources for Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery.

The ALPE database is freely available using a web-based interface3. It allows browsing and searching for ILL clauses contained in e-licenses by resource identifiers (ISSN and ISBN), by publisher or content provider or by platform. It then allows refining a search by subscriber institution, by e-resources type, by license validity year and subscription type (i.e., current or back-files subscription).  The NILDE software has been integrated with ALPE to automate the license checking activity during the lending work flow: NILDE uses APIs to query the ALPE database, retrieves and shows information about licenses and then applies the restrictions, if any, before to supply (or not supply) the requested item.




In case of administrative unification of two or more libraries, you can ask the Administrator to merge the NILDE accounts of the libraries concerned.
In general, if the libraries are present in ACNP, the operations to be carried out on NILDE must follow the merging of the owned in ACNP.
The choice of the personal code on which to merge the owned must be made inside ACNP, in accordance with the catalog managers.
NILDE's registration then follows the ACNP one's.



a) insert a suspension period to ensure that neither other libraries nor users can make new requests

(b) close ongoing borrowing and lending requests

(c) extracting usage statistics. These can be exported from the "Statistics-> Data Export" menu.

d) extract also the CSV file of the users registered to the library, using the Menu "My Users" -- at the top you will find the icon of an excel file, passing over it with the mouse appears "export to CSV" (OR LINK TO THE FAQ ON USER EXPORT). In this way it will be easy to contact all users moved to the library that remains active, after the Nilde Admin has confirmed the operation.

e) If there are active users, ask the NILDE Admin (by writing to ) to move the users to the target library.

Finally, ask the Nilde Admin to close the library account.

f) The Nilde Admin will carry out the required operations and will confirm them at the end.


NILDE allows you to choose from a variety of document delivery methods, including faxes and systems such as Ariel, but also has its own secure electronic delivery system. NILDE therefore allows you to manage various formats of image files: JPG, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, TIF, BMP, PNG; the other format allowed is the PDF format.



In some cases, the Digital Hard-Copy procedure may create a PDF that does not exactly conform to the original with transformation errors (e.g. loss of diagrams and/or images, or loss of text with the wrong font).
In this case you can trash the document (and forward the request back to NILDE) using the Recycle Bin button for Digital Hard Copy (screenshot) problem.

This will send an error report to the NILDE development team.

If you repeat the request for this reason, it is recommended that you specify in the notes to the supplier library that the submission should be done by a method other than NILDE (e.g. mail, fax or other).



In case of failure of the Hard-Copy service, please contact the help-desk service at the address , indicating indicating the id number assigned to the library to which the request was sent.


ALPE is the Electronic Periodicals Licensing Archive of NILDE, supporting the librarian who carries out the Document Delivery service and who must operate in accordance with the uses permitted by the publishers.  It contains the clauses relating to the document delivery service, extracted from the license agreements for electronic resources signed by the Italian libraries belonging to NILDE. ALPE, through the use of API, is displayed directly in NILDE in the Lending screen, by clicking on the Find licenses button.
NILDE searches for the appropriate license in the ALPE database, using the ISSN and the Year of Publication of the requested document as search parameters, or the ISBN, in the case of a book chapter.
From the list of licenses displayed in the summary table, you will need to select your reference license and click the Apply button. The software will proceed by automatically applying the conditions on Document Delivery shown in the license.


The updated list of users can be exported in CSV format and imported into Excel by clicking on the icon (csv icon) in the "My users" menu.
This function is useful for creating mailing lists. The exported file contains all the personal data of its users with an indication of their status, the type of their account and e-mail address (passwords are not present in the file).


In the welcome box with the library header, clicking on the play menu button opens a window splitted into 3 frames:

  •  My account: - in which library details, username and password are indicated.
  •  My catalogs: where, by ticking the relevant box and filling in the required fields, the library indicates the address of its OPAC and its eventual participation to the national catalogues (ACNP, SBN, MAI) or to the ITALE group (group of Italian libraries using Aleph/ALMA software), If you want to add a catalogue outside of ACNP, SBN OR NEVER you must notify
  •  My services: this box contains the contacts name, the way in which the library performs its service to its users and to other libraries. It is also possible to indicate a period of suspension of the service and the days of notice with which to communicate it to users.

Clicking on the Modify button it is possible to change the information for each of these sections.


The SFX button into Borrowing section transmits metadata to the SFX only when the request is already present in the system (i.e. when opening a user request or a request already loaded in the system).

For new requests or for requests pre-loaded through OpenURL that are still in the input/compilation phase, it is necessary to first SAVE them (using the tick button at the top right) and then re-open them.

Only at this point the link to SFX will transmit the metadata correctly.


In the list of libraries returned from the ACNP search, you will find all the libraries that have a type owned:
- (preceded by "print:");
- online (preceded by "@:");
-online consortium or cumulative of an institution to which the library belongs (indicated by “notes: (CONSORZIO NAME)”.

Sometimes, therefore, it happens that the selected library does not really have access to the required resource, because for example it belongs to a different area of interest, but it still appears in the list because it belongs to a consortium subscriber.
To avoid such a situation, just click on the button "Hide consortia", which causes only those libraries that have a owned print or online own, not inherited“” from a consortium purchase. Recycling then on View consortia, you return to the full list.



Users must register to a library belonging to the NILDE Network  to become part of the NILDE Network.

To find the library belonging to the NILDE Network closest to you search here

If you are a student or a university or a public body employee, look for your institution’s library and register for the NILDE service.

The user manual can provide you with further information.

ATTENTION: the user account cannot be used until the library has activated the registration. As soon as the library has enabled the user account, the system will notify the user of the activation.


Coloro che accedono al servizio NILDE attraverso il login tradizionale, possono recuperare la/e credenziale/i dimenticata/e cliccando su Non ricordo i miei dati di accesso! o su Recupero Account in basso a sinistra e compilando i campi username, e-mail e codice visuale di controllo.

Those who access the NILDE service through the traditional login, can retrieve the forgotten credentials by clicking on "Do not remember my login data!" button or on Account Recovery in the lower left and filling the username, email and visual code check fields.

Those who use an institutional access (IDEM-GARR) should apply to their institution.

Authentication credentials are not stored on the NILDE server.

Qualora il recupero Account dia come esito il messaggio di errore “Impossibile recuperare credenziali”, si consiglia di verificare di essere in possesso di account IDEM-GARR, seguendo questa procedura:

If the Account Recovery procedure results in the error message “Unable to retrieve credentials", please verify that you have an IDEM-GARR account, following this procedure:

1) Click on the "IDEM-GARR" button (to the right of the login box, under the inscription "Institutional Login")
2) Choose your institution from the list provided
3) Authenticate yourself on the portal with the institutional credentials (or turn to your institution for the recovery of the same).



You can report the error to . It should be noted that an automatic daily update of the IDEM-GARR authentication service is planned; in case of failure, the service will be automatically restored overnight by the system.


You cannot change your reference library. You should therefore ask the subscription library to disable and delete the account to make a new registration at a new library with a new account.
As there is no library change procedure in NILDE, in the case of users with IDEM-GARR institutional credentials it is necessary to follow this procedure:
1) the user requests the disabling and deletion of his account to his NILDE library
2) the library must verify to don't have outstanding requests with this user (in case, the requests should be closed). At this point the library can proceed to disable and delete the user (deletion is essential)
3) la biblioteca informa l'utente che, ad avvenuta eliminazione, potrà effettuare una nuova registrazione a NILDE andando a scegliere l'altra bibliotecathe library informs the user that, after deletion, he can make a new registration to NILDE going to choose the other library (obviously the user can always use his IDEM-GARR institutional credentials precisely because the library has ordered the cancellation of user account)


As established by copyright and copyright laws, the user may only receive a copy of the requested article in paper format.

The library will provide the delivery of the article to the user by sending to it the paper sent by mail or FAX or with a print copy of the PDF file received through secure electronic sending via NILDE, but with the obligation to not forward that file to the user and to destroy the electronic format within the terms of the license.


To proceed to the with the submission of the request you must always fill in the field Publication title and at least one of the following combinations:
    • year and first page;
    • year and author;
    • volume number and first page;
    • volume number and author.

Other elements useful to the request, where available, can be ISSN, the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) in the case of electronic publication, or the PMID code in the case of medical articles. To facilitate the search for medical articles, it is also possible to have an automatic completion of the request fields indicating only the PMID through the specific Pubmed command in the request form.


NILDE processes about 220.000 ILL requests/year. Since its beginning, it has processed 2 Millions ILL transactions.

Each library constantly monitor their average turn-around time. This is calculated by NILDE as difference between the fulfillment (or un-fulfillment) date and the request date for each item, both on the borrowing and on the lending side.
In order to comply with the Rules and Regulation, libraries should keep their lending turn-around time indicator less than, or equal to, 2 (i.e., they answer requests in 2 days in average). We can see they behave much better than this.
Thanks to the virtuous processes, the whole community has improved these indicators:  the retrieval of a document within the network has become easier (fulfillment rate is 87%) and the global average time from request to delivery of an article has steadily decreased to 0.6 days.