Frequently Asked Questions: Interlibrary Loan

Delivery Timeframe

The Interlibrary Loan (ILL) staff will make every effort to get the material to you in the shortest time possible. If you have a specific deadline, please include that information when you submit your request. Delivery time depends on many factors, such as where the material is located and how quickly a library or supplier is able to respond to requests. In most cases items fulfilled electronically are available within one to three days. In contrast, fulfillment time of loans may vary widely, due in part to availability and distance.

Username and password

Please use your University netid and password to access your account. Please remember to update your account if important information should change, such as contact information.

If you have trouble accessing your account, contact Resource Sharing - Interlibrary Services at Firestone (609-258-3272) or

Guidelines for making requests:

Requests must be submitted online.

Accurate and complete citation information will speed the processing of your request. Providing source information can be very helpful. For article information search the Library’s databases and see the ArticleExpress (ae) page. For other material, such as books and newspapers, use WorldCat.

Please include only one item per loan request. For certain loanable items such as serials, newspapers, or microform material a range can be requested. If you are unsure of how to submit a request, please contact Resource Sharing - Interlibrary Services staff, or staff at the reference desk in Firestone or any campus library.

If you have a large number of requests to submit, you may find it useful to submit the requests over a period of time rather than submit them all at once. Since material is lent to us by other libraries for only a short period of time (the usual loan period is four weeks), staggering receipt of items over a longer time frame may give you more time to work with individual items.

Services to East Asian Library Users

You can place requests for books and articles in Chinese, Japanese, Korean using romanization. You may wish to contact the bibliographers for assistance: Martin Heijdra ( for Chinese language titles, Hyoungbae Lee ( for Korean titles.

Checking on the status of requests

You may check on the status of your requests at any time by logging into the ILLiad system and navigating down the menu page to "Reviewing requests."

Length of loan period

The loan period is set by the lending library. Most libraries set a loan period of four weeks, although some lend for longer periods, and occasionally libraries restrict a loan to a shorter period of time. The due date will be marked clearly on the material when you pick it up. Occasionally, material is recalled. If this occurs, you will receive a notice, with a new due date.  Please do not take interlibrary loan materials out of the country, as this makes it difficult to return items on time, especially if items are recalled.


You will receive an email letting you know whether or not a renewal has been granted or denied, with the new due date if the renewal has been approved.

Occasionally a lending library tells us at the time of the loan that they will not supply renewals. If there is such a restriction it will be noted on the material when you pick it up.

Restricted to "library use"

Some libraries restrict material to use within the library. If there is such a restriction, it will be noted on the material when you pick it up. If the material is from the rare books collection at the lending library, it may be restricted to use within the supervised reading room at Firestone while it is here on loan. In these cases we will notify you that the material is being held for you in Special Collections in Firestone. When you have finished with the material please notify the reading room attendant.

Returning interlibrary loan material

Please return interlibrary loan material to the Firestone Circulation Desk or to the circulation desk where you picked it up.


For most items, you will not incur any charges or fees. However, if you need to request an unusually large number of items or if the cost to obtain the material is greater than the usual fees for ILL service, we may ask you to share the costs of obtaining the material before we proceed.

Requesting material that Princeton owns

Normally interlibrary loan service is for material that is not available at the Princeton University Library, but exceptions are made in some cases.

  • Items temporarily missing or unavailable: If the material you need is missing from its shelf location, please ask the staff at the circulation desk to conduct a search for you. Staff will search for the item and if it is not found, will mark it missing in the Library’s catalog.  Once it is updated to "missing" status in the catalog, you may request the item through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). 
  • Items at the Bindery: If the material you need has been sent out for binding or is for some other reason temporarily unavailable, please submit an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request and tell us the status of Princeton’s copy (e.g., Princeton’s copy being bound).
  • Items held in non-circulating collections: Normally we will not accept a request for an item held by Princeton in a non-circulating collection. If you have unusual circumstances that makes this type of restricted use difficult for you, please speak with a member of the Resource Sharing - Interlibrary Services staff and we will determine if a loan is feasible. (Often the item is also in a restricted collection at other libraries and cannot be obtained on interlibrary loan.)
  • Items held in micro-formats: Normally we will not accept a request for any item held by Princeton in micro-format. If you have unusual circumstances that make this format difficult for you, please speak with a member of the Resource Sharing - Interlibrary Services staff and we will determine if a loan is feasible.

Difficult to obtain material

  • Videos and films: Some libraries lend videos and DVDs through interlibrary loan. We will attempt to borrow these items for you, but our success rate is not as high as with other material.
  • Early imprints: Material published prior to 1900 may be difficult to obtain on loan. Often it may be in a non-circulating collection (e.g., a rare books collection) or may be too fragile to ship. In some cases a photocopy of an excerpt can be obtained if a loan is not possible. If an excerpt would be satisfactory for your needs, please include this information when you place a request for a pre-1900 title.
  • Manuscript and archival material: Archival and manuscript material is normally not available on interlibrary loan, although photocopy or microfilm copies of excerpts may be in some circumstances. Please speak to a reference staff member or a member of the Resource Sharing - Interlibrary Services staff in Firestone Library if you anticipate needing such material.
  • Journal volumes: Volumes of journals and other serially-published materials are not usually lent by other libraries, so it may not be possible to obtain them on loan. Try requesting some of the individual articles in the issues instead and we will try to fill them.
  • Microforms: We make every attempt to borrow material in paper format because of its more portable and convenient format, but often microform is the only option. Microforms are Library Use Only automatically and stored in the Microforms Division on A floor for you to use there or at Marquand or East Asian Libraries. When the material arrives, we will advise you of the arrangements for use.

Security issues on public workstations

Web browsers cache information and create a history file on public workstations. This would permit subsequent users of the workstation to access the system under your name using the browser's "back" button to recall a page from the cache, or by finding a page with your personal information in the browser's history file. If you are concerned about the security of your interlibrary loan and document delivery requests, you can take any of the following measures:

            1. Logon to Interlibrary Loan (ILL) only from your personal computer or an otherwise secure workstation.
            2. If using a public access workstation, exit from the web browser before you leave the workstation. This prevents the "back" button from accessing the pages you were using.

Other questions?

Please contact the Resource Sharing – Interlibrary Services staff in Firestone Library at or 609-258-3272.