You are here

Main Content

Frequently Asked Questions about Interlibrary Loan


  1. What is Interlibrary Loan?
  2. Who may use Interlibrary Loan Service?
  3. How much does it cost to use the service?
  4. What types of materials are available for loan?
  5. What types of materials are not usually available for loan?
  6. How do I request items on Interlibrary Loan?
  7. How long does it take to get an item from Interlibrary Loan?
  8. How will I be notified and where do I pick up my requested item?
  9. What is Electronic Delivery?
  10. How long will I be able to keep the loan and can I renew it?
  11. Is security a problem if I use a public workstation?
  12. I need more information, or I'm having problems with Interlibrary Loan.

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan is a service provided to obtain materials which are needed for research but are not available in the University Library.

Who may use Interlibrary Loan Service?

Currently enrolled CSUN students, currently employed CSUN faculty and staff and Emeritus faculty are entitled to Interlibrary Loan services.
Please do not request materials for others as you will be held responsible for the item.

Courtesy card holders, such as Alumni and Friends of the Library, should obtain Interlibrary Loan Services at their local public library.

How much does it cost to use the service?

There is no charge for borrowing materials or getting photocopies within the CSUN Interlibrary Loan "network," which includes the other 22-campus CSU system, a host of reciprocal libraries and our document suppliers. Requests from undergraduates are not made outside of this network agreement, so no charges are involved. For graduates, faculty and staff, materials may be requested from any library in the U.S. and many abroad. The University Library subsidizes most fees that the lending library may charge. However, because of budgetary constraints, limits are set on the subsidies. Faculty are allotted $500.00 per year, doctoral students $400, graduate students $250.00, and CSUN staff $100.00. We always attempt to fill a request from within our free network first, but it is difficult to predict when it may be necessary to search beyond the network.

What types of materials are available for loan?

Items which normally circulate, such as books and theses, and some materials reproduced in microform, such as newspapers, can be borrowed. Photocopies of non-circulating materials, primarily periodical articles, can be requested in accordance with the copyright law. Items owned by the University Library that have been declared Missing or Overdue in the catalog can be requested.

What types of materials are not usually available for loan?

The following materials may normally not be borrowed: books owned by the University Library, reference books, genealogical items, books recently published or in high demand; entire periodical issues or volumes; newspapers unless available on microform; non-book materials such as audiovisual recordings; materials for reserve or group use; bulky or fragile items; and rare or valuable materials such as manuscripts.

How do I request items on Interlibrary Loan?

The library catalog, our full-text databases and the Government Publications Shelf List for items published prior to 2000 must be consulted first to be sure the material is not held in the University Library.
Currently we have two methods for submitting requests:

  1. Use the automated Interlibrary Loan System. There are 4 request forms available: an article, a loan, a book chapter and thesis.
  2. Through most databases, once you find the citation of the item, you can order it by selecting the Find Text button.

Accurate and complete bibliographic information must be supplied, along with the "source" (usually an index, major bibliography or a searched database), where this information was verified.

How long does it take to get an item from Interlibrary Loan?

The average time required to receive a routine item has changed and could now take up to 3-4 weeks because of libraries working under additional safety measures during the Covid-19 crisis. The time depends on the availability of the item, the location of the potential lending libraries, the speed of the delivery, the accuracy of the information supplied in the requests and the volume of requests being processed by Interlibrary Loan. Make sure all ILL request information submitted is complete and correct to ensure inaccuracy does not delay turnaround time. Requests with problems such as abbreviations, missing or inaccurate information, or a "not needed after" date of less than 3 weeks is resolve only as time permits. (See also sections on "Notification" and "Questions")

How will I be notified and where do I pick up my requested item?

Interlibrary Loan will notify you via email. The information you provide in your patron profile on the ILL System will determine where you are notified when the material arrives. For now Interlibrary Loan materials will be shipped to the address on file. Please make sure that your address is updated in your CSUN portal account before placing a request as this information is updated based on the information provided in your CSUN portal account. Items will be shipped via U.S mail regular rate. The patron is responsible for return postage if they decide to ship this return to Interlibrary Loan. The library is still closed to the public and returns cannot be accepted in person. Fortunately, there is still the option to return ILL loans to any of the library book drop bins on campus. See Returning Library Materials/Book Drops  for a map of all Library book drop bins. 

Photocopies can be delivered to your ILL account electronically, or sent to you by U.S. Mail. During our regular turnaround time, please check your profile for the request status. If there are any questions about our services or ILL requests, please email or call (818) 677-2294. 

What is electronic delivery?

Many libraries send photocopies of articles to us in electronic format. In the past we printed these articles before delivering them to you. Now, through our automated system 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.

How long will I be able to keep the loan and can I renew it?

Lending libraries determine conditions regarding the use of their materials, including the loan period which usually varies from 14 to 21 days for all patrons, including faculty. (Loan periods might be longer considering the COVID 19 crisis and due to library closures but is ultimately up to the lending library) 

The lending library determines if the material is renewable. The book band wrapped around your material will tell you if your item is renewable. You may also check each request status from the “Checked Out Items” section in your Interlibrary Loan account in the “Renewals Allowed?” field. 

If an Interlibrary Loan item is renewable, you must request a renewal from your Interlibrary Loan account before the due date. To request a renewal return to your Interlibrary Loan account, locate the title or transaction number of the item you wish to renew from the "Checked Out Items" section and click on the transaction number. The request will open then click the "Renew Request" option in red at the top of the screen. You can keep the item until you receive an email from Interlibrary Loan regarding your renewal status. Please allow time for the lending library to respond to the renewal request.

Is security a problem if I use a public workstation?

Yes. Web browsers cache information that allow a subsequent user of the workstation to access pages you've viewed by using the browser's Back button. This could include your personal information page. If you are concerned about the security of your interlibrary loan requests or personal information, you can take the following steps:

  1. Access the system only from your personal computer or an otherwise secure workstation.
  2. Access the system from a public workstation in the Interlibrary Loan office in the library. This computer is supervised by the library staff.
  3. When 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.

I need more information, or I'm having problems with Interlibrary Loan.

Email the Interlibrary Loan office, or by phone: (818) 677-2294. The Librarians at the Reference Desk can assist you in the bibliographic searching, but they cannot be expected to know all the intricate details of the Interlibrary Loan policy and procedure. Discussing a non-routine request with the Interlibrary Loan Staff, particularly theses, dissertations, music, conference proceedings, government documents, technical reports, etc. may save you a great deal of time, energy and frustration. There may also be alternative means of getting your materials, especially articles; many of these are accessible online.

The conditions of this service are set by the National Interlibrary Loan Code, 1980 (adopted by the American Library Association), the CSU Interlibrary Borrowing System agreement, the regulations of individual lending libraries and the polices of CSUN Library.