Skip to Main Content

ILL FAQs

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan (also abbreviated ILL) is a free service that helps current members of the UMass Amherst community access materials from beyond the Five Colleges. ILL also provides copies of articles or book chapters even from items are owned by UMass Amherst as part of our Document Delivery services. Interlibrary Loan can take from 1 day to 2-3 weeks to be filled and loan periods vary based on the lending library. The material format, availability of the material and time of year are all factors which affect how quickly and interlibrary loan request can be filled. Articles and book chapters will be delivered electronically to your ILLiad account and books can be picked up at the Circulation and Reserves Service desk on the Lower level of the Du Bois Library during any hours the library is open. You will receive a notification email as soon as your requested material is available.

What is Library Express? 

Library Express is a service for current students and current or retired faculty and staff living outside of the Pioneer Valley. We will mail circulating books owned by the UMass Amherst libraries directly to your doorstep. There is no fee for this service at this time. See Library Express FAQs for more information.

How do I submit a request for interlibrary loan, document delivery, or Library Express?

All requests must be submitted via our online form. A separate request must be submitted for each article or book needed. When requesting that something be mailed to you via Library Express, please be sure to include your address in the Notes field. You will log in to your ILL account using your NetID and password (the same as you would use to log in to SPIRE). The first time you log in, you will be prompted to fill out some registration information; this registration sets up your ILL account and needs to be filled out only once.

What if I forget my password?

Your password is your NetID password (the same one you use to log in to SPIRE). If you are having trouble logging in to your ILL account using your NetID and password, visit the Learning Commons desk on the Lower Level of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library or contact IT User Services: http://www.umass.edu/it/support

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 ILLiad 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.

I am not affiliated directly with the University as faculty, staff or student. Can I use the University's Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Service?

No, but 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. Your local public library can also provide similar service for you.

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. Your requested material will be delivered to the Circulation Office in the Du Bois Library within 2-3 business days, and you will receive an email notification as soon as it 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 fulfill it.

Can I order articles from journals or chapters from books held by UMass or in the Four Colleges?

Yes. We can get a copy of the article you need through ILL. If you are in a hurry, we recommend that you go to that library yourself. 

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 long does it take for material to arrive through interlibrary loan?

The time it takes for material to arrive can range from a few hours (such as for a widely held article with a good citation) to several weeks (for a more obscure article or physical loan). The material format, availability of the material, the location of the lending library and time of year are all factors in how quickly an item will be received. Physical loans are sent to us through the mail, so please allow for shipping times. The average time that it takes for material to arrive is less than ten days.

How much does interlibrary loan cost?

There is no charge to you for most materials obtained through interlibrary loan. The library absorbs any charges which must be paid to obtain the material you need. In cases where the documents needed can only be obtained by purchase, you would be notified and, referred to an appropriate source for the material.

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 must pay from $10.00 - $25.00 to another library per transaction.

Can I get dissertations through interlibrary loan?

We are successful in being able to borrow 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. We also recommend checking the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses collection to which we subscribe, as theses are often available there.

How many requests can I place through interlibrary loan? Is there a limit?

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 tme 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 413-545-0553 if you have questions or concerns.

How are materials delivered and notifications sent?

Articles and book chapters will be delivered electronically. Physical items must be be picked up and returned to the Du Bois Library Circulation and Reserves service desk on the Lower Level. Notifications for all materials will be sent to you by email. You may also check the status of your ILL requests within your ILL account by choosing the "Review Requests" section.

What are the loan periods and restrictions for interlibrary loan materials?

Loan periods are established by the lending library and vary from two to sixteen weeks. These loan periods must be respected. One renewal is sometimes possible, but this is at the discretion of the lending library. Our standard renewal request is two weeks from the original due date. Lending libraries will sometimes deny our request or they may approve the request with an even more generous renewal time.  Ideally, renewals should be requested on or before the original due date and may be requested within your ILL account online under the "View/Renew Checked out Items" from within your main menu. You may also request a renewal by phone (413-545-0553) or in person if necessary.  We'll follow up with an email confirming the new due date that is set by the lending library.

Lending libraries sometimes require that their materials be used only in the library, or that they not be photocopied. ILL will not waive such restrictions for individuals.

How do I renew a book that I have checked out through ILL?

Renewals may be requested within your ILL account online. Click on the "Checked out Items" category from within your main menu. Select the item you wish to renew and choose the renew option.  You may also request a renewal by phone(413-545-0553) or in person if necessary. We'll followup with an email confirming the new due date set by the lending library.

What is the overdue policy on interlibrary loan materials?

Interlibrary Loan books are lent as a courtesy by another library. In order to maintain our reputation as a borrowing library, and our privilege to borrow, we must adhere to the due dates and restrictions imposed by that library. Please help us to keep good relationships with the libraries we borrow from by returning your materials in a timely manner.

Notices are sent on the following schedule:
A courtesy notice is sent 7 days prior to the due date.
1st Overdue notice is sent when an item is more than 10 days overdue.
2nd Overdue notices are sent when an Interlibrary Loan item is more than 30 days overdue. When the 2nd overdue notice is sent you will be automatically BLOCKED from using Interlibrary Loan services. 
A BLOCK on your record will also be placed for failure to return materials that have been RECALLED within 5 days of the recall notice or a notice that a renewal request has not been granted OR if material designated as USE IN LIBRARY ONLY is removed from the library or not returned to the circulation desk after each use. A BILL will be issued for failure to return such items within 15 days.

All blocks on your record will be removed when the overdue material is returned.

FAILURE TO RETURN INTERLIBRARY LOAN BOOKS WITHIN 45  DAYS OF THE DUE DATE WILL RESULT IN A BILL THAT WILL IMMEDIATELY BE FORWARDED TO THE BURSARS OFFICE FOR PAYMENT AND A BLOCK ON YOUR ABILITY TO CHARGE OUT MATERIALS FROM THIS COLLECTION. REPLACEMENT CHARGES ARE A MINIMUM OF $85.00. IF THE BOOK IS RETURNED AFTER THE BILL IS SENT TO THE BURSAR A REFUND WILL BE MADE. UNPAID BURSAR BILLS RESULT IN THE INABILITY TO REGISTER FOR CLASSES OR TO RECEIVE GRADES.

What is "electronic delivery" of articles?

Electronic delivery is for articles and means you can access copies of journal articles or book chapters from your desktop. The ILLiad software, used by the UMass Libraries Interlibrary Loan office, will create a pdf file of an article. This file is then posted to a server in the library and you can access it via your ILLiad account.

How do I sign up for electronic delivery?

Electronic delivery is the default method for supplying articles or book chapters that you request and is always the preferred method.  We may mail articles to you if the electronic version is poor quality or if we receive a hard copy of the material from the supplying library. 

How do I set up my computer to receive articles electronically?

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed and configured to work with your web browser in order to open, read and print these articles. 

How can I get Adobe Acrobat Reader?

Acrobat Reader is available free from UMass Amherst IT. https://www.it.umass.edu/software/adobe-creative-cloud

How do I get my articles when they arrive?

First, you should logon to ILLiad. On the main menu, choose "electronic delivery." This will give you a list of all the items that have been delivered to you electronically. Click on the transaction number of the item you wish to read or print. 

How do I know which requests will be delivered electronically and which ones will not?

Articles that come to us via Fax or regular mail will be mailed to you directly at the address you have given, as soon as they arrive. Articles that are delivered to us in electronic format will be processed and an email will be sent to you indicating that they a ready for you to view.  

Do I have to receive articles electronically?

Electronic delivery is the default method for supplying articles or book chapters that you request and is always the preferred method. It provides faster service for you, processing efficiencies for ILL staff and is the 'Green' choice.  If receiving articles in electronic format presents a hardship, please contact us directly.

How should I request materials held by UMass, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, or Amherst?

The Five College Library Catalog is the way to go! The University Library System offers a book paging service from the Libraries of the Four Colleges. (Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and Amherst). The material requested is sent to the W.E.B. Du Bois Library usually within 2 business days of the original request. This service is only available to UMass Faculty, Students, and Staff with a valid U-Card.

What is the easiest way to submit ILL requests?

When searching DiscoverWorldCat, or another library resource, you can click on the ILL button to submit your request to Interlibrary Loan. Submitting your requests this way will automatically import all of the citation information. This service will only appear if you are on campus or otherwise logged in to your account.

If you already know what you want, you can always fill out a blank form manually from your ILL account. To make sure we can fill your request as quickly as possible, be sure to select "Loan" if you want to borrow a physical item (a book, DVD, etc.) or "Article" if you want a copy of a part of something (a journal article, book chapter, etc.) and include an ISSN or ISBN whenever possible.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Email: ill@library.umass.edu

  • Lower Level, W.E.B. Du Bois Library
  • 154 Hicks Way
  • Amherst, MA 01003-9275
  • (413) 545-0553

Today's Hours

W.E.B. Du Bois Library
OPEN 24 HOURS