Interlibrary Loan

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Interlibrary Loan


1. What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is the borrowing and lending of materials between libraries to supplement collections. It may be used to borrow materials that are not available within the collections of the eiNetwork's participating libraries and is frequently used for the purposes of research.

2. Who is eligible for ILL?

Any cardholder of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh or participating libraries of the eiNetwork may place an Interlibrary Loan request.

3. How do we decide where to get your request from?

After you place your request, we search an online library database to determine the item's availability. When we find a match, we make an online request with up to ten libraries for the material, usually starting with libraries located in Pennsylvania and then branching out across the country.

4. Is there a charge for this service?

There is often no charge to obtain materials from other libraries. However, some libraries do have lending fees which we must pass along to you. That is why we request that you indicate on the ILL request form, the maximum cost that you are willing to pay in order to borrow the item. Most transactions will be free. However, when there is a charge, it is often in the $10-$20 range. Please note that if you indicate that you are willing to pay a fee to receive material, we must charge you that amount whether you pick the item up or not. This is done because the lending library has charged us to borrow their material and we are responsible to pay that cost regardless if it is used or not. If you are no longer willing to pay for material, please notify either the library you requested the title from or e-mail the Interlibrary Loan Department immediately so we can cancel the request.

5. How long does it take to get ILL material?

Since we need to deal with libraries outside of our system to receive ILL materials, we ask that you please allow a minimum of four to six weeks for your request to be filled. If a lot of libraries have a particular title, it may arrive before four weeks while popular titles that may already be checked out and harder-to-find items such as genealogy may take longer than six weeks.

6. What is the loan period?

Loan periods range from one week to one month and are set by the lending library.

7. What is the maximum number of items I can request?

Due to budget cuts from the State of Pennsylvania, the ILL Center must reduce the number of customer placed interlibrary loan requests in process at any given time from 20 to 10 beginning on January 1, 2010.

8. May I get best sellers through ILL?

Since most libraries are unwilling to lend current year material, we cannot accept requests for current year fiction and current year audiovisuals. We would rather consider purchasing these materials than try to borrow them through ILL. Library staff will help you determine if the title you are seeking is new. If it is, we request that you fill out a New Title Consideration Form, which is available in every Department or Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh as well as through the catalog.

9. Is it possible to obtain photocopies of magazines or newspaper articles through ILL?

We can get copies if you provide:

  1. The title of the article.

  2. The author of the article.

  3. The name of the periodical.

  4. The volume, date and pages.


The library has many indexes to help you if you do not have complete information. Most libraries charge a fee for photocopying. When you place your request, please indicate the maximum amount that you are willing to pay for a copy of the article.

10. Are genealogical materials available through ILL?

Although most libraries do not loan local history and genealogical items, we will accept requests for them. However, it may take considerable time for us to determine whether we will be able to borrow genealogical materials.

11. May I renew material?

Interlibrary loan materials may be renewed a total of 1 time via the internet or by your local library. Materials will under no circumstances be renewed more than once. Should you still require the item, you may request the item again and we will try to acquire the material from a different lender.

12. Where may I return ILL material?

All Interlibrary Loan material must be returned to the department, branch or district library from which it was borrowed. ILL books are not part of the Access Pennsylvania program and should not be returned to any other library.

13. What is the late fee on ILL material?

Late fees of 25 cents per day per title are charged for overdue Interlibrary Loan books while late fees on videos are $1 per day. If the lending library charges an additional overdue fee, we must pass the charge on to you. Local district late fees on materials may vary. Please be aware that if interlibrary loan material is not returned, the lending library may charge a high processing fee in addition to the actual cost of the item.

14. May I borrow audio visual materials through ILL?

Many libraries do not loan audio visuals. However, we will accept requests but cannot guarantee finding a lender.

15. How do I obtain more information about ILL services?

Contact any Department or Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. You can also obtain more information at your local district library.

16. How is this electronic Interlibrary Loan system better than traditional ILL systems?

  1. You will find it easier to submit your interlibrary loan requests. You will need to enter your name, address, and other personal information into the system only once, at the time of your first request.
  2. Your request will be handled more rapidly and accurately as problems relating to misinterpretation of hand-written requests are eliminated.
  3. You can get many of your photocopies more quickly through Electronic Delivery.
  4. You can get information about the status of your request through the Web at any time from any location without having to call the ILL Department.
  5. Library personnel are able to serve you better because all data about your request and its handling is stored in a searchable database. We are able to respond quickly to your inquiries about your request. We are also able to gather statistical information about the performance of the libraries that lend to us, enabling us to make better decisions when choosing a lender to supply an item.

17. Are there any disadvantages to the electronic system?

Some people might find it troublesome to have to log into ILLiad using a username and password. We believe this is less trouble than traditional paper and electronic systems which require you to enter your personal information with each new request.

18. Why do I need a barcode and password to use ILLiad?

Your barcode and password allows us to give you secure access to information about your interlibrary loan requests. We can also enable you to edit your personal information such as your address or phone number.

Your barcode is the barcode number on your library card. Your password can be anything you like. We recommend that you follow good security practice and choose a password that is different from those you use to access other systems. However, no one but you will know your password, not even the library staff. The password you set is stored in an encrypted file.

19. What if I forget my password?

In the event that you forget your password, go to the login page and click Forgot Password?" You can change your password as long as you have a barcode number. You will receive an email from ILL that contains a link to reset your password (you need to have an email address on file to receive this email). Click on the link in the email and you will be prompted to reset your password.

If you do not have an email address on file or are unable to login, please contact the Interlibrary Loan Office at 412.920.4535. We can then reset your password allowing you access to ILLiad. Please change your password once you logon to ILLiad.

20. What Web browser should I use?

You need a Web browser that can handle forms, tables, and preferrably Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). We recommend the current versions of either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

21. Why don't I see all my older requests when I look at my request history?

From time to time we purge older records. Our policy is to keep requests online for several years order to comply with record keeping requirements of the copyright law.

22. What is electronic delivery?

Many libraries ship photocopies of articles to us in electronic format. In the past we printed these articles before delivering them to you. Now, through Interlibary Loan, we are able to offer you the option of electronic delivery of these articles in PDF format (Adobe's Portable Document Format). You can read more about electronic delivery on the Electronic Delivery Information page.

23. Why does my browser say that you're sending a cookie? What's in it?

The technology that we use sends a Session ID to be stored on your machine. You can refuse this cookie and still be able to use the Interlibrary Loan system without any problems.

24. Whom do I contact if I have problems or questions?

System Problems or InterLibrary Loan Questions: InterLibrary Loan office at 412.920.4535 or e-mail to ill@carnegielibrary.org
Technical Support Questions: E-mail anytime to ill@carnegielibrary.org