Michigan State University

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

While we are presenting the most common questions, not every question can be answered in an FAQ.  If you do not see the answer to your question, please contact us using the information in the left-hand column.

Who can use Interlibrary Services (ILS)?

InterLibrary Services are available for:

  • All MSU affiliates, including MSU retired faculty.
  • Community Borrowers may use the MeLCat service only.
  • An MSU faculty member may request that a research assistant be authorized to submit ILS requests in his/her name via Faculty Authorization account. This policy may be viewed on the Faculty Authorization page.

How much do the services cost?

All of the services are free of charge to patrons. The MSU Libraries subsidizes any charges that may apply.

What materials can and cannot be obtained through ILS?

From the holdings of partner libraries, ILS often can obtain books, articles, book chapters, microfilm/microfiche, dissertations, audiovisual material and musical scores needed for personal study and research. Some materials simply are not available from other libraries or from publishers, including some out of print materials, rare and fragile pieces, e-only resources, unique archival items, or materials for which costs become prohibitive.

Can I request textbooks through ILS?

You may request textbooks through ILS, however, many libraries do not collect textbooks, and many do not lend them so it is very difficult to obtain these titles.  Please be aware that if a textbook is found for you, the loan period may be too short to make this a viable option in lieu of purchase. 

Can I request dissertations through ILS?

You can request dissertations held by other libraries through Interlibrary Loan.  Many dissertations are available online, so check these resources before you place your request.

  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses provides free access to American dissertations published after 1997, and contains abstracts for many dissertations published since 1980.  
  • EthOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) provides digital access to dissertations from UK universities. Oxford and Cambridge universities do not participate in this service. Free login and registration is required to search the site. 
  • Thesis Canada Portal contains abstracts of Canadian theses since 1965; full text versions are available from 1998-2002. 

Is there a limit on how much and what I can request?

  • Only one request per order form will be accepted.
  • The Library reserves the right to limit the number of requests processed to 10 per week to ensure that requests from other users can be processed in a timely manner.
  • Copyright guidelines prohibit the Library from scanning or obtaining more than one article from the same issue of a journal or more than one chapter from a single book for a single patron.

How long will it take to receive my ILS item?

Articles and book chapters are typically delivered electronically in 2 business days. Physical items that require travel time are typically delivered in 3 to 14 plus business days – for example, UBorrow items may come in 3-5 business days,  MeLCat items may take between 1-2 weeks. Materials that are rarer may take longer to be located and borrowed.

How will I receive my article or chapter request?

Articles/chapters will be delivered electronically to your ILLiad account, typically as a 300 dpi PDF file.  You will receive an email when the article is ready for viewing.  Your request will remain on your account for a period of 21 days.  In the event that you accidentally delete an article from your account, email us at ill@mail.lib.msu.edu to see if we can reset it.

Once my ILS item arrives, where do I pick it up?

You will receive an email when your item has arrived and is ready for pickup. You may retrieve it at the Main Library Patron Services Desk, or at a branch library if that is your designated pickup location in ILLiad.  All materials sent to branches will be checked out to you before they are sent to the branch location for pick-up.  Note: Items borrowed from another institution are not eligible for faculty/staff delivery.

What is my ILS item due date?

ILS items can have different due dates, and these may be different from your MSU items, so check the bookstrap for the date. 

How do I renew an ILS item?

Due dates and renewal information can be found on the bookstraps. Please note that some items are not eligible for renewal. 

Exceptions:

Material borrowed through MeLCat may be eligible for a 3 week renewal.  Renewals can be made through your library account.

Where do I return an ILS item?

Please return ILS borrowed items to a staff member at the Patron Services Desk of the Main Library, or the Circulation Desk of a branch library. Please do not return ILS material to a library drop-box, as doing so may delay check in of the material and result in fines.

What happens if I return an item late or lose/damage it?

Overdue fees are $2.00 per day per item. Extremely overdue items, damaged or lost material will result in a replacement charge on your account. The minimum charge is $100 and may be more if the replacement cost is higher. Any replacement charge will result in a block on your account. Holds are placed on MSU student enrollment, registration, diplomas, and transcripts at the same time.

Why is an ILS item on my account even though I have not picked it up?

If you request an item be delivered to a branch library or if you are a distance user (>50 miles from East Lansing), borrowed materials are checked out to your account before being sent to the branch or your delivery destination and will remain on your account until the item is returned and received by the library.