Interlibrary Loan Policies

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What is Interlibrary Loan?

  • Interlibrary loan (ILL) provides access to research materials owned by other libraries; it supplements the Five-College Delivery system by obtaining materials that cannot be ordered using the "Request item" feature in the Five College Library Catalog (see below). Interlibrary loan borrows from other Massachusetts libraries, from out-of-state, and from overseas when necessary.
  • The loan period is set by the lending library and is usually 3-4 weeks. Renewals are usually possible. Generally, however, think of these as short-term loans.
  • Books are typically easy to borrow. Scores, videos, sound recordings, etc. are more difficult to obtain, but we will try to get what you need.
  • The interlibrary loan service also orders copies of articles from journals not owned by Smith. These copies usually arrive as PDFs and are yours to keep.


  • All currently-affiliated Smith College faculty, staff, and students may use the Smith College interlibrary loan service.
  • Affiliates of the other Five Colleges, alumnae, and public borrowers are not eligible to use Smith's interlibrary loan service. (Use the library of your home institution or your public library, as appropriate.)

"Request Item" vs. Interlibrary Loan

  • Use the Request item link in the Five College Library Catalog to request books and DVDs/videos owned by the other Five College libraries.
  • For Smith books and DVDs/videos that are checked out to another user, use Request item in the Five College Library Catalog to request an available copy from another library. If there isn't another copy available in the Five Colleges, use Request item to recall Smith's copy of the book.
  • Use Interlibrary Loan for items that cannot be ordered via the online catalog (either because the request is not allowed or the item is not owned by any of the other colleges.)
  • Use Interlibrary Loan to request journal articles not owned by Smith either electronically or in print format.

Interlibrary Loan Turnaround Time

  • Most requests are sent out to a potential supplier within 24-48 hours, unless we have difficulty identifying what you need from the information provided. If you submit a large number of requests on a single day, they may not all be sent out on the same day.
  • Articles usually arrive within a few days.
  • Books, DVDs/videos, etc. can take anywhere from a few days to arrive to several weeks, depending on how far they must travel and what shipping method the supplier uses.
  • Service may be slower during the peak of the semester or during vacation periods.
  • If you have special needs, please consult with the interlibrary loan staff (Neilson Collection Services, Level 1 South or x2962).

User Registration

  • To begin using Smith's web-based interlibrary loan service, you must first complete a registration form.
  • Registration has two major purposes: Once you register and select a username and password, you won't need to enter your name, phone number, e-mail, and mailing address on each request. It also means you will have secure access to information about your current and old interlibrary loan requests.


  • Most interlibrary loans are provided to you free of charge, since the Libraries subsidize up to $20 per request. For items over $20, you will be asked to pay the balance. (You may cancel the request if you'd rather not pay.)
  • An annual per person subsidy is also in force, dependent on budget constraints.

Request Limits & Other Important Reminders

  • You may have up to 50 active requests at one time. If you submit a large number of requests in a single day, they may not all be sent out on the same day.
  • The lending library determines the length of the loan period, options for renewal, and any restrictions on use. You must adhere to any conditions placed by the lender.
  • All materials borrowed via interlibrary loan are subject to recall by the lender at any time. For this reason, you should not take ILL materials beyond the Northampton area and should not lend them to others. You are responsible for any loss or damage fees.
  • With the exception of research assistants (see below) who have a faculty or staff proxy form on file, all interlibrary loan requests must be made by the person who will be using the material. In addition, you should not lend your ILL books to another user.

Research Assistants

  • Research assistants must complete a new user registration, distinct from their own personal registration.
  • The registration will include the faculty or staff member's name, the research assistant's name, and the barcode from the research assistant proxy library card.

Contact Information

Name Job Title Phone
Christina Ryan Interlibrary Loan Supervisor (413) 585-2962
Susan Daily Interlibrary Loan Associate (413) 585-2962