Interlibrary Loan

This guide answers questions most commonly asked by our library users.

What is ILL?

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is the process by which materials are shared among libraries for their users. There are two units within the department, Borrowing and Lending. The Borrowing Unit is responsible for locating and obtaining library materials (books, articles, cds, dvds, book chapters, music scores, vinyl albums, microfilm, etc.) requested by University of Arkansas users (students, faculty, staff and affiliates).

The Lending Unit is responsible for locating and sending University of Arkansas materials to users at other libraries around the world. (They do the opposite of what the Borrowing Unit does.)

The Interlibrary Loan Department is also responsible for electronically delivering articles and chapters from paper journals and books held in the University Libraries. The Borrowing Unit currently handles these responsibilities.


Quick Answers

What is ILLiad?

ILLiad is the interlibrary loan transaction management system used by the University of Arkansas Libraries. Library users login to ILLiad to make requests, view received articles, and manage their request history. If you need assistance registering for ILLiad, please contact the Mullins Help Desk at  479-575-6645 or the Interlibrary Loan Department at 479-575-5311.


ILL staff do not automatically renew items for our users. Some items can be renewed and some cannot. Renewal is at the discretion of the lending library and some libraries simply do not renew. The label affixed to the item will indicate the due date and whether or not the item is eligible for renewal. It is important to understand that just because an item is eligible for renewal does not mean the lending library will renew it. They may have a local user waiting for it, they may need it back to place on reserve for a class. We have no way of knowing. Users should not be afraid to ask for renewal but must also understand it is not guaranteed. Interlibrary Loan staff will obtain another copy for the user if needed.

How Many Requests May I Make?

There is no limit to the number of items that can be requested at one time, however, department staff will promise to process ten requests per person per day. Users should be careful when requesting large numbers of returnable items (books, dvds, cds, etc) as they will likely arrive at the same time and have similar due dates.

How Long Does it Take?

Delivery Times

Most articles arrive within 8-24 hours during the work week.

Most loaned items (books, microfilm, media) arrive within 5-14 working days.

Many factors impact the ability to obtain an item quickly. Some of these are:

·         the number of libraries that own the item (more libraries gives us more choices and increases the chance of success)

·         the age of the item (many libraries will not loan rare or fragile items). Some libraries will not loan items published within the current calendar year.

·         the type of material (many libraries will not loan current textbooks, cds, dvds, or videos)

·         the distance the item must travel

·         the shipping method used by the lender (FedEx, Courier, US Mail)

·         whether or not the item is checked out at the lending institution. If the item is checked out at the first institution we query, the request is then electronically passed to the next library in the preselected “lender-string.” If that institution responds negatively, the request is then electronically passed to the next in line until the item is either shipped to us or all options have been exhausted.

·         whether users give us a complete citation (incomplete citations make it more difficult to locate the correct item)

Why does it take so long to get returnable items?

It's complicated! There are numerous variables at play when trying to obtain a returnable item. Libraries have easy access to information about collections at other libraries but we do not have access to the checkout records of other libraries. This means that during request processing ILL staff can see who owns the item but they cannot see whether or not it is actually on the shelf at the other library. In a sense, requests are sent out "semi-blind."

Additionally, the University Libraries belong to a consortium, the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA). This is a group of 31 academic libraries that have agreed to ship items to each other within four working days. If the requested item is available at a GWLA member library we are able to obtain it very quickly. If not, we must expand the search and this adds time.


The ILL office cannot order current semester textbooks. Please do not refer library users to ILL for textbooks. The Libraries are conducting a pilot study to review textbook purchase requests. Please ask the user to contact her/his subject librarian (also known as a “selector”) to request purchase of a textbook.