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Interlibrary Loan

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?


As defined by the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States,

"Interlibrary loan is the process by which a library requests material from, or supplies material to, another library. The purpose of interlibrary loan as defined by this code is to obtain, upon request of a library user, material not available in the user's local library."

When to use ILL

You know exactly what article, book, or other item you need. 

The item is not available through Bristol LLC.

If you are unsure whether or not what you need is available, please ask a librarian for help. Using the chat box on the right is a fast way to contact us!

We go to all reasonable lengths to obtain materials for users as quickly as possible.  These materials are ordered from other libraries across the country and it takes an average of 7-10 days for loan materials to arrive. Journal articles/ book chapters are usually available more quickly.


Who can use Interlibrary Loan?

  • Currently registered students, faculty, and staff, with a current Bristol ID and 900#, may use Interlibrary Loan.

What materials can and cannot be obtained through ILL?

  • ILL can obtain books, articles, book chapters, microfilm/microfiche, and dissertations needed for scholarly research. There is a limit of ten (10) requests per week. Popular literature and textbooks can sometimes be obtained, but these requests typically are much harder to fill.

Can I order textbooks through ILL?

  • Required textbooks cannot be ordered through interlibrary loan. They are very difficult to locate and borrow as many institutions do not circulate textbooks through interlibrary loan, and the titles we are lucky enough to obtain cannot be kept for the entire semester. If requesting a textbook, please work with ILL and/or LLC staff to submit requests several weeks before it is needed.  ILL cannot guarantee the lending library will fill the request.

Does this service cost money?

  • ILL is free of charge to current Bristol students, faculty, and staff.  If there is a cost associated with a request, we are unable to obtain the material since we are a LVIS reciprocal member, which means we can only obtain material that is free.

How long can I keep ILL materials?

  • Journal articles are yours to keep.
  • ILL material due dates are set by the lending library. Renewals may be possible but can only be given by the lending library. Renewals are not guaranteed and are not usually granted once the due date has passed.
  • Interlibrary Loan is a courtesy provided by the lending library and any conditions of use imposed by that library must be strictly observed. All items are subject to immediate recall by the lending library. Borrowed items kept overdue by patrons create critical problems for Interlibrary Loan service. Lending libraries may cease to lend to our institution until all overdue material is returned.

How will I receive my article request?

  • You'll receive an email with the article attached in pdf format to the email you sent with your request.  Occasionally, we receive requests via fax or mail. These will be kept on the ILL shelf and you will receive a pickup notification by telephone.

How long will it take to receive my ILL item?

  • Generally, ILL requests take 1-2 weeks to arrive. The amount of time is dependent on several factors, such as the location of the lending library, and the time of year. Patrons are advised to allow ample time for their request to arrive; if it seems like your request is taking an unusually long amount of time, please contact the ILL office so that we can check up on its status.

Where do I pick up my ILL item?

  • You will receive a call or an email when your item has arrived and is ready for pickup. You may retrieve it at the LLC Service Desk at the campus you selected.

How do I renew an ILL item?

  • Please contact ILL (774-357-2105, or email to in order to renew your ILL material.  Loans cannot be renewed through the catalog. The lending library must be contacted prior to renewal approval.  
    Most libraries are willing to allow one renewal for their Interlibrary Loan items, provided the request is submitted before the due date. Unlike regular library items, ILLs cannot be renewed through your library account - we must contact the lending library and ask if they are able to renew.

What happens if I lose or damage an ILL item?

  • Libraries lend us their materials as a courtesy, and Library Learning Commons strive to maintain good standing with our partner libraries. Please treat ILL items with care and return them on time.  If the event we are charged late fees we will be required to pass them along to the borrower.  A lost ILL item will result in a replacement charge for the item being assessed to your library account.

My question isn't listed here; whom can I contact?

  • We're here to help! Please give us a call at 774-357-2105, or send an email to