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Interlibrary Loan: Policies

Loan Periods

Lending libraries determine loan periods. 

  • most libraries lend books for 3-4 weeks
  • films, CDs, and other media are usually lent for a shorter period of time

You'll see the due date on the label attached to the material you borrow, or you can check your account.


Patron responsibilities

By placing an interlibrary loan request, you are agreeing to comply with United States Copyright Law.

It is very important that interlibrary loan materials are returned on time.  When items are not returned by the due date, SMSU Library's relationship with other libraries is affected.  Should you need more time, you may request a renewal using your account.

  • Borrowers are responsible for interlibrary loan items from the time they are picked up at the Circulation Desk until they are returned to SMSU Library.
  • If an interlibrary loan item is lost or damaged, the borrower will be responsible for replacement fees billed by the lending library.  Library fees are to be paid through Business Services.  An outstanding balance may result in an inability to register or to receive transcripts.

Borrowing policies

This policy describes who is eligible to use SMSU Interlibrary Loan, defines the scope of Interlibrary Loan services, and outlines the responsibilities of patrons using SMSU Interlibrary Loan.

Scope: What services are provided?

Interlibrary loan requests can be placed for items that are

  • not available in SMSU Library collections OR
  • owned by SMSU but checked out or missing.

If you're requesting something that is owned by SMSU but is not available, please write this in the "notes" field of your request.

How much does this cost?

Do I have to pay for Interlibrary Loan?

Usually, the answer is no! Interlibrary loan service is free for all SMSU students, staff, and faculty.

There are 3 situations where we may contact you asking for payment before filling your interlibrary loan request. These situations aren’t typical, but they’re common enough that we want to tell you about them.

1: The Lending Library Requests Payment

Most of the libraries we borrow from don’t ask for payment, and we don’t ask for payment from any of the libraries we lend SMSU materials to. Every once in a while, though, the library that has the book or article asks for a fee (usually between $5-$15) for supplying that item. This comes up most often when the book or article you are looking for is relatively rare, that is, only a few libraries own it and have permission to share it with others.

If this happens, we will contact you via email before we put the request through to the lending library or libraries, asking your permission, quoting the exact fee range you may be asked to pay, and giving you instructions about how to pay.

2. No Lending Library is Able to Send an Article

The companies that publish and offer access to journal articles, especially academic/scholarly articles, are growing increasingly strict about the rules libraries have to follow to legally supply interlibrary loans. This means that it’s increasingly common for a library to appear to own and be able to send us a copy of a journal article when they actually can’t because of the contract they have with the publisher or database that owns the article.

There is usually a way for you to get access to the article anyway on your own through the publisher’s website, but it often involves either renting access to the article ($9+) or purchasing it ($35+).

If this happens, we will contact you via email alerting you that we’ve cancelled your interlibrary loan request. We’ll also give you suggestions for how to access that article on your own—and we’ll welcome you to meet with one of the librarians to discuss finding additional articles on the same topic that might not cost a thing.

3. Copyright Fair Use Guidelines

Sometimes Copyright Fair Use Guidelines, which are the guidelines we need to abide by in order to run an interlibrary loan service, may prevent SMSU Interlibrary Loan from requesting an article for you without compensating the copyright holder(s). In other words, we have to pay somebody (usually the Copyright Clearance Center) in order to put through the request. This usually happens because our interlibrary loan users have requested the limit of recent articles from a single journal. (You can read all about it in the link above if you’re interested!)

If this happens, we will contact you via email. We’ll ask with you to work with us to figure out a way to either get the article or alternative articles at the lowest possible cost to you.

Contact ILL

Office hours: weekdays 9:30am-6:00pm

507-537-6158 (Liz)
507-537-6788 (Thomas)


SMSU McFarland Library-Interlibrary Loan
Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State St.
Marshall, MN 56258