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Circulation: Interlibrary Loan Guide


If you need a resource the library doesn't own, we can get it for you--for free!


How to place a request

Send an email  to or use the online form.

Or look for the ILL button within a database, like this:

ILL button

What is ILL?

ILL stands for "interlibrary loan," which is a fancy way to say "we don't have it but we'll get it for you from another library." We will always fill your request as soon as possible--if it is an emergency, please let us know. If there is no rush for the item, please let us know that too. It completely depends on the resource as to how fast we can get it for you, but we average a two-day turn around for items that can be emailed (like an article) and a six-day turn around for items that must be mailed (books). If you have questions, email ( or call (830-372-8102)!


Q. How does interlibrary loan work?

A. You submit a request for either an article or a book. We find other libraries that own that item and we ask them to send it to us. If it is an article request, we will email it to your TLU email address when it comes in and it is yours to keep. If it is a book request, we will email you when it arrives and you can come check it out at the main desk in the library with a picture ID. The due date for ILL books is written on the front of the book.

Q. When should I request things I need from interlibrary loan?

A. As soon as possible! We always get resources as fast as we can, but when you need resources for a project, please request them as soon as you can. Our turn around time depends entirely on other librarians' work schedules, so the more time we have the more likely we are to get the resources you need for your project.

Q. Okay, but let's talk numbers: How fast can I get something from interlibrary loan?

A. There is no easy answer here--it completely depends on the resource. Many times, we can get articles within 24 hours, but it does sometimes take much longer. Our average turn around time last year was 1.85 days for articles. And, most of the time, we can get books within a week from the day you request it, but this can also take longer. If you are worried about something coming in on time, please feel free to email with questions.

Q. If I just need one chapter from a book, can I request that?

A. Yes, please do! Chapters can be emailed, so they come in faster than a whole book (which has to go through the mail). You can use either the journal or book request forms, or you can email

Q. How long can I keep something from interlibrary loan?

A. If it is an article that we email you, it is yours for life. No need to return it. If it is a book that you have to come pick up at the main desk, the return date will be on the front of the book. It's important to return ILL books on time because we want to continue borrowing books for other people from these libraries and if we return books late we will lose our ILL privileges.

Q. Can I renew an interlibrary loan item?

A. You can certainly request a renewal by emailing or stopping by the library. We cannot, however, guarantee that your request will be granted because it is all at the discretion of the lending library, not us.

Q. What do I do if I can only find articles that have to be interlibrary loaned, but I need resources that are immediately available because of my schedule?

A. Come talk to a librarian. We are professional finders-of-resources. Email to set up a reference appointment. 



Has your professor assigned you to do a practice Interlibrary Loan? Here's how!

  • Go to the Interlibrary Loan online form
  • Fill out the form using your own name, email address, and classification (student). For all the other fields of the form, write "Practice for _____," filling in the blank with the name of whichever professor assigned you the training. (For example, for Dr. Tiffiny Sia, you would write: Practice for Dr. Tiffiny Sia.) The library staff will email your professor to let them know you completed the practice. 
  • When filling out the form for practice, feel free to only fill out the required fields (marked with an asterisk) and leave the rest blank. 
  • At the bottom of the page, hit "submit"!