The University of Massachusetts Amherst

ILL FAQs

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan (also abbreviated ILL) is a free service that allows patrons of the UMass Amherst libraries to borrow materials and to receive copies of documents from libraries beyond the Five Colleges. This service is available to current UMass Amherst students and current and retired UMass Amherst faculty and staff. We can provide:

  • Loans of physical items not available in the Five College Catalog, including books, DVDs, microfilm, and more.
  • Scans of articles or book chapters not available online at UMass Amherst, including books or journals UMass holds in print.

Articles and book chapters are always delivered to you electronically. You can choose to have physical items mailed to your home, or held for contactless pickup. Keep your preferences up to date by logging into your your Interlibrary Loan account with your NetID and password, selecting "My Account", and updating your loan delivery method. You will be notified by email as soon as your requested material is available.

If your material is restricted to use in the library only, you will be prompted schedule appointments to use it in the Microforms Reading Room (for microforms) or in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room (for other materials). We will always communicate with you in advance if an item can only be borrowed with this restriction.

Who can use Interlibrary Loan?

Current UMass Amherst students, faculty, and staff, as well as retired UMass Amherst faculty and staff can use Interlibrary Loan. All you need is an active NetID and password. If you are retired, you may need to renew your account through UMass IT.

If you aren’t eligible for Interlibrary Loan at UMass Amherst, your local public library may be able to provide a similar service for you. You can access a number of e-books and other content through the Boston Public Library.  

If you're a UMass Amherst alumni or resident of Massachusetts you can register for a MA State Resident borrowing card which will allow you to borrow items from UMass Amherst and through the Commonwealth Catalog.

How do I submit an Interlibrary Loan request?

When searching Discover, WorldCat, or another library resource, you can click on the “Request through Interlibrary Loan” to import the citation information for your request. This option will only appear if you are on campus or otherwise logged in to your account. You will be prompted to log in to your Interlibrary Loan account using your NetID and password (the same as you would use to log in to SPIRE).

If you already know what you want, you can fill out a blank form from your Interlibrary Loan account. You will be prompted to log in to your Interlibrary Loan account using your NetID and password (the same credentials as you use to log in to SPIRE). Once logged in, select “New Request” from the menu, and then choose the type of request.

To make sure we can fill your request as quickly as possible, be sure to select "Book, Film, Etc." if you want to borrow a physical item (like an entire book or DVD) or "Article/Book Chapter" if you want a copy of a part of something (like a journal article or book chapter) and include an ISSN or ISBN whenever possible.

Separate requests must be submitted for each article, chapter, or book.

The first time you log in to your Interlibrary Loan account, you will be prompted to fill out a registration form.

I’m off campus – can you mail items to me?

Absolutely! We can mail items through our Library Express program.

Library Express is a service for current UMass Amherst students and current or retired UMass Amherst faculty and staff. Under normal circumstances, this service is only for patrons living in the United States and outside the Pioneer Valley, and only for normally circulating items owned by the UMass Amherst libraries. We have temporarily expanded this program to mail materials from any library to off campus patrons anywhere in the United States.

There is no fee for this service, and we include a return shipping label that will allow you to mail your materials back at no cost to you.

When requesting that something be mailed to you via Library Express, please be sure that the address on your account is up to date and that you check the box stating “I would like this mailed to me and confirm that the address on my account is up to date.”

When possible, we ask that you use the Contactless Pickup option instead of Library Express. See Library Express for more information.

Why do you only mail items within the United States and not internationally?

We are not offering to mail items internationally at this time because it currently takes an extremely long time to arrive (with big differences by country), and we do not have a way to pay for return shipping outside the United States, meaning it might be more cost effective for you to purchase an item than to mail it back to us.

If you are currently outside of the United States, we can help facilitate a purchase of an e-book for the libraries if one is available, or we can supply a limited number of chapter scans. If the item does not exist for sale anywhere and we can find another library willing to work with us, there may be special cases where we could scan an entire item. To learn more about what your options are, contact us at ill@library.umass.edu.

How will I know when my request is ready? How can I access it?

You will receive a notification email to the address on your account as soon as your request is available.

Articles & Book chapters

  • Articles and chapters will be delivered electronically to your Interlibrary Loan account. You will get an email notification as soon as your request is available, and when you log in with your NetID and Password, you will see the option to view all available PDFs.   

Loans

  • You can choose to have Loan requests mailed to your home address, or held at your preferred library location (W.E.B. Du Bois library, the Science & Engineering Library, or the Mount Ida Wadsworth library) for contactless pickup. You can change your preference at any time by logging into your Interlibrary Loan account and selecting “My Account.”
  • If you choose Mail to Address, you will receive an email notification when we receive the book from the owning library and mail it to you. You should receive it 2-5 business days after that.
  • If you choose Hold for Pickup, you will receive a notification when your request is available with a link to schedule a contactless pickup appointment. 

You can also check the status of your ILL requests by logging in to your Interlibrary Loan account. You will see Electronically Received Articles, Checked Out Items, and Outstanding Requests all on the main page, and can click on the request you’re curious about for more information.

How long will I have my Interlibrary Loan materials for?

Loan periods are set by the lending library and vary from two to sixteen weeks. The due date will be included in the notification email when the item arrives, in reminder emails to return the item, and is printed on the book band. In order to maintain our reputation as a borrowing library, and our privilege to borrow materials from that library for all UMass patrons, due dates and other restrictions must be respected.

Articles will be available on your account for 30 days, in compliance with copyright guidelines. Please save a copy of the PDF if you will need to use it after that point. If you accidentally delete an article you need to download, we may be able to restore it; please contact us at ill@library.umass.edu as soon as possible. 

Can I renew an Interlibrary Loan item?

Renewals are sometimes possible, but are at the discretion of the lending library. Ideally, renewals should be requested before the original due date and may be requested within your Interlibrary Loan account online from the main menu under Checked Out Items. You may also request a renewal by email at ill@library.umass.edu.  Most renewals grant an additional two weeks; lending libraries may deny our request or may approve the request with a more generous renewal time. 

We will follow up with an email confirming the new due date set by the lending library or informing you if the library is not willing to grant a renewal.

If an item is not renewable online but you need an extension, please contact us! We are sometimes able to work with the owning library.

How can I return my Interlibrary Loan materials?

You can return your materials to the following locations:

  • W.E.B. Du Bois Library entrance book drop
  • Lederle Graduate Research Center Lowrise book drop (north entrance by parking lot)
  • Robsham Visitors Center drive-up drop box
  • Mount Ida Wadsworth Library entrance

Or, you can request a mailing label to send your materials back at no cost to you by filling out this form: https://forms.gle/hKscA1hRbRSN3sTY8.

I'm having trouble logging in or forgot my username or password – what do I do?

Your login information for Interlibrary Loan is your NetID and password (the same login and password you use for SPIRE). Make sure the NetID you are using is not your full email address. Reminder: password field is case sensitive. Try logging into SPIRE first, and if that works the exact same login should work for your Interlibrary Loan account.

If you can't log in to SPIRE, you will need to contact UMass IT. More information on what to do next is at http://www.umass.edu/it/support/spire/spire-logon-information.

If you can login to SPIRE but are still having trouble when you try to login to the Interlibrary Loan system, please try the following:

  • Try using the primary account link to log in to Interlibrary Loan: https://illiad.library.umass.edu/illiad/AMH
  • At the Interlibrary Loan login screen, refresh the page (CTRL F5 on a PC or Apple + R or command + R on a Mac) and then try logging in again
  • Clear the cache on your web browser. For all Windows supported browsers: Press Ctrl-Shift-Delete to open a pop-up window that should allow you to clear your cache. You can try just selecting the box to clear the cache and see if that works but you may have clear other boxes like cookies and browsing history. Whatever changes you make be sure to close and reopen your browser before trying to login to ILL again. For further details on this see: https://www.it.umass.edu/support/spire/clear-your-browsers-cache
  • Try a different web browser -- i.e. Firefox, Google Chrome, IE and see if the problem you are having is limited to one browser. Make sure you have the latest version of the web browser that you are using

If you can log in to SPIRE and none of the above steps work, please contact ill@library.umass.edu for more help.

How long does Interlibrary Loan take?

It depends. The material format, how much detail is included in the request, availability of the material, location of the lending library, and time of year are all factors which can affect how quickly an Interlibrary Loan request can be filled.

An article request might arrive in just a few hours (if the request is submitted with an ISSN and lots of libraries have the journal electronically), while a more obscure article or a loan could take several weeks. Physical loans are sent to us through the mail, so please allow for shipping times. If we then need to mail the item to you, it will take even longer.

You can see some status information about your requests by logging in to your Interlibrary Loan account and clicking on your request. Our system isn’t able to show certain details, like when another library has shipped a loan. For more information about a request status, you can email us at ill@library.umass.edu.

Some requests may have additional delays due to COVID-19 restrictions and closures.

What level of quality can I expect from the scans I receive?

Scanning quality varies from library to library. Sometimes, a poor scan is the only option, particularly with older newspaper articles which only have one version existing on microfilm. If you receive an article with any kind of issue – missing a page, scanned sideways, or something else – please let us know by emailing ill@library.umass.edu. We will clean up the file for you on our own software if we can, or request a fresh scan from a different library.

I have a proxy card and want to order materials for my professor. How do I register?

Click on the "First Time Proxy Users: Register Here" link on the Interlibrary Loan account logon page to create your ILL proxy account. Use your proxy card library barcode as your username and choose your own password. Fill out the form using the contact information where you would like notifications to be sent. Use your email if you want all notices to come to you. Use your professor's email address if you want all notifications to be sent to them. List yourself as an authorized user.

Can I order a book from Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, or Mount Holyoke colleges through Interlibrary Loan?

Physical items held in the Four Colleges should be ordered through the Five College Library Catalog by using the "request item" button. You will receive an email with instructions for how to set up an appointment for contactless pickup soon as your requested material is available. Materials supplied through the Five College Catalog will arrive more quickly and typically have a longer loan time than materials supplied by Interlibrary Loan. However, if all Five College copies of a book are checked out, you can submit an Interlibrary Loan request and we will do our best to get the item from another library.

We are temporarily offering Library Express services to mail books from Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, or Mount Holyoke colleges mailed to your home address. If you need an item mailed to you, please place a new "Book, Film, Etc." request for the item from your Interlibrary Loan account and include a note that you need it mailed to you. When possible, we ask that you use the Contactless Pickup option instead of Library Express.

The book I need does not circulate in this library. Can I borrow this through Interlibrary Loan?

No. We will not request items that are owned and available in some manner here (such as items on Reserve for a class). However, you can order this book through the Five College Library Catalog if it is available at one of those libraries.

How much does Interlibrary Loan cost?

There is no charge to you for materials obtained through Interlibrary Loan. The library absorbs any charges which must be paid to obtain the material you need.

Please be aware that although we have many agreements with other libraries which allow for the free exchange of materials, sending a request is labor intensive and we often pay from $10.00 - $60.00 to another library per transaction.

Is there a limit to how many Interlibrary Loan requests I can submit at a time?

There is no limit on the number of requests you can submit to ILL at any one time.  However, we may not process all of your requests at once if there is a large number of them and it is a busy time of year. This ensures fair and equitable service to ALL of our users by assuring that no one person or research project monopolizes our services at any given time. Please contact us at ill@library.umass.edu if you have questions or concerns.

Are there other restrictions on Interlibrary Loan materials?

Lending libraries sometimes require that their materials be used only in the library, or that they not be photocopied. If this is the case, we do our best to inform you before we borrow the item, to make sure this restriction will work for you. At present, library use only items can be used by appointment in the W.E.B. Du Bois library. ILL will not waive such restrictions for individuals, and will not mail library use only items to home addresses.

If a loan restricted to Library Use Only (pink bookband) is removed from the library or not returned to the appropriate shelf after each use, a Block will be placed on your Interlibrary Loan account and you will not be able to request or receive other items until the Library Use Only item is returned.

We generally cannot make a copy of an entire item (even if you put in separate chapter requests for a book) due to copyright restrictions. If you need a large amount of an item, we encourage you to submit a Loan request for the whole thing.

What is the overdue policy for Interlibrary Loan materials?

Interlibrary Loan books are shared by the kindness of another library. We need to keep good relationships with other libraries so that they will keep sharing with us, and all our patrons can benefit. Please help us by returning your materials by their due dates, and respecting any restrictions the library has placed on the loan.

We recognize that COVID-19 causes many financial and other difficulties. For this reason, we have currently suspended fines for Interlibrary Loan items.

Notices are sent on the following schedule:

  • A reminder courtesy notice is sent 7 days prior to the due date.
  • 1st overdue notice is sent when an item is two weeks overdue.
  • 2nd overdue notice is sent when an Interlibrary Loan item is more than 30 days overdue. 

If another library recalls a book (meaning they have immediate need for its return to use for Reserves or another high priority reason), you will receive a Recall notice. Recalled items must be returned in 10 days, or a block will be placed on your Interlibrary Loan account, stopping you from placing any additional requests.

All blocks on your record will be removed when the overdue loan is returned (although it may take a few days to be reflected in our systems, particularly as items are quarantined before being processed by staff).

If you have lost an Interlibrary Loan book, please contact us immediately! We may be able to work with you to get a replacement copy before the owning library sends us a replacement bill.

Can I get dissertations through Interlibrary Loan?

Many dissertations are available through the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses collection which the UMass Libraries subscribe to, but which does not always connect with other databases. We highly recommend checking there first.

When an item is not available in ProQuest, we are successful in borrowing dissertations from other institutions about half of the time. If the dissertation you need is not available for loan (we would notify you of this fact) or you already know that you want to purchase it, you can order it directly from Dissertation Express on the web at http://disexpress.umi.com/ (Choose "Connect to Dissertation express as an individual"), or by phone at 1-800-521-0600.

Warning concerning copyright restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that 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, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

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