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About Interlibrary Loan

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan is a free service that obtains materials that are not available at Saint Mary's College for members of the Saint Mary's community to use.  You can request books, articles, or chapters of books via Interlibrary Loan. Please submit your requests at least 4 business days before the material is needed for best results. See "When will my book or article arrive?" below.

Who can use Interlibrary Loan?

Currently enrolled students, faculty (including emeriti), and staff of Saint Mary's College can place Interlibrary Loan requests.

When will my book or article arrive?

  • Books usually arrive in about 7 calendar days.  Some may take 10 days to 2 weeks, but this is unusual.
  • Articles usually arrive in 1-2 calendar days.  Some may take 4 to 5 days, but this is unusual.
  • Dissertations can be very hard to get through Interlibrary Loan. We will do our best to get a copy for you or to find access to an online version, but we may not be able to fill your request for a dissertation.
  • Please do not place requests for dissertation abstracts if you already have the abstract for the dissertation: you won't get any new material that you don't already have.

How long can I keep an Interlibrary Loan book? Can I renew it?

  • Due dates for books vary depending on the lending library. Usually, you will have the book for about 2-3 weeks.
  • The due date will be clearly marked on a paper band around the front cover of the book.
  • You may request a renewal of an Interlibrary Loan book by logging in to your library account at least 3 days before the book is due.  Once you are logged in, select "My ILL Requests" from the menu with your name on it in the upper right corner of the screen. Some books may not be renewable.

Is there a limit on how many items I can request?

  • You may have 20 active ILL requests at one time. Active requests are those currently in process. Requests with the status "Complete" in My Account do not count against the 20-request limit. If you have 20 active requests, you will be unable to submit new requests until one of your active requests has been completed or canceled.

How will I get my Interlibrary Loan book or article?

  • For books, you will get an email message to let you know that the book has arrived. You can pick up the book at the front desk at the library.
  • For articles, you will get an email message with a link and a password, that will allow you to download the article as a PDF file.  You do not need to return Interlibrary Loan articles.

What happens if I return an Interlibrary Loan book late? Or lose a book?

Failure to return Interlibrary Loan books may result in charges determined by the lending library (the library that sent the book to Saint Mary's College) to cover the cost of replacing the material and any associated processing fees.

Can I request other kinds of materials, like DVDs or microfilm?

  • We will try to fill requests for videos, microfilm, and other formats, but it can be difficult to find libraries that will lend them. 
  • Use the book request form for these items, and fill out as much information as you can.  You can also contact our staff at to discuss options for obtaining materials.
  • Unfortunately, we cannot borrow e-books from other libraries.

What about copyright?

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of the copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, the fulfillment of the order would involve violation of the copyright law.

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