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Interlibrary loan - Information and policies

Who is eligible to use the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service?

Interlibrary Loan service is offered exclusively to current and retired McGill professors, and to current students and staff as part of their teaching, learning, research and work activities at McGill University. Continuing Education students currently registered in a certificate or diploma program may request material related to courses in the program. Non-academic staff may request work-related materials. Library accounts must be in good standing, e.g. not blocked for any reason.

What types of documents can be borrowed through interlibrary loan?

There are no restrictions to the types of documents that can be requested. However, external libraries have their own policies regarding documents they will supply.

Generally, external libraries do not lend the following types of documents:

  • eBooks
  • films (dvd, vhs)
  • manuscripts
  • Music recordings are rarely circulated through inter-library loan. If there is a music recording (audio or video) you need but were not able to locate either in the Library catalogue or in the streaming audio/video collection, you can submit a suggestion to the Marvin Duchow Music Library for purchase consideration.
  • newspapers in their original formats
  • original archival material
  • periodical bound volumes or individual issues
  • rare books or published before 1850
  • reference books
  • software

Interlibrary Loan requests submitted for documents that can be found in the collections of McGill Library are not forwarded to external libraries unless they are labeled as lost or missing in the library’s catalogue.

How much does interlibrary loan cost?

There is no charge to users for material obtained via interlibrary loans. However due to financial limitations, the ILL service cannot accommodate requests related to hobbies and recreational interests, or requests submitted on behalf of non-McGill clientele.

How long does it take for a document to arrive?

Documents that are sent from a Canadian or an American institution will generally be received within 1-2 weeks.  Documents sent from Europe can take longer.

Photocopies of journal articles, conference proceedings, or chapters of a book will generally be received within 24 hours to 1 week.

The amount of time it takes for an interlibrary loan document to arrive is variable and is affected by factors such as the complexity of the request, the rarity of the material, the location and the local policies of the lending institution (some require advance payment), the postal and courier services used.

Duration of Loan

ILL documents are always due back 3 weeks from the date the document was received at McGill.

Things you must know:

The majority of institutions lend their documents for a maximum period of three weeks, and do not permit renewals.

The lending library may impose restrictions as a condition of the loan, such as in-library consultation, or no photocopying.

The McGill Library’s interlibrary loan service is obliged to respect all conditions prescribed by the lending institution for documents borrowed  on behalf of McGill faculty and students.  Failure to respect restrictions including due dates may cause the McGill Library to lose ILL borrowing privileges with a particular institution. It is therefore imperative that all library users respect the due date imposed by the lending library as indicated on the label affixed to the borrowed documents.

Pick-up and Return Locations

Here are the branch library locations on campus where you can pick up and return your documents. With each ILL request that you submit you have the possibility of selecting one of the following pick-up locations:

  • Birks Reading Room
  • Education Curriculum Resources Centre
  • Humanities & Social Sciences Library
  • Islamic Studies Library
  • Life Sciences Reserves Library (McIntyre 3rd floor)
  • Macdonald Campus Library
  • Marvin Duchow Music Library
  • Nahum Gelber Law Library
  • Schulich Library of Science and Engineering

Return of borrowed documents

You are responsible for the safe return of interlibrary loan materials by the due date to one of McGill’s branch library locations.

It is preferable to give it to a person at the loans desk.

You can use the book return chute in the McGill branch library.  However please assure that the adhesive label remains affixed to the book. Otherwise the document might be shelved inadvertently in a McGill branch library instead of being returned to the lending library. 

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