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Interlibrary Loan: Interlibrary Loan FAQ's

Learn about what Interlibrary Loan is and how to use it

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary loan allows Bertrand to borrow materials from other libraries for you to use. If you ever come across a book you'd like to read, a movie you'd like to watch, or an article you want to use in your studies that Bertrand doesn't own, you can request it through interlibrary loan and we'll do our best to get it for you. 

Please be aware that you cannot request textbooks required for your classes through interlibrary loan.

How long will it take?

The time it takes for you to receive your item varies based on the type of request you made as well as the rarity of the item. We do our best to fill your request as quickly as possible, but we're limited by the speed at which other libraries reply to us.

However, on average, requests for physical items take between 3-8 days to arrive. Requests for copies of articles or book chapters are usually filled within 3 days, although they can come as soon as a few hours after you place your request.

Requests for rarer items will likely take longer to fill. For example, if you request a Japanese translation of the Lord of the Rings book series, we may have to request it from a library in Japan, which would take much longer to arrive than a book coming from Pittsburgh. 

If your request is taking longer than you'd like, you can always contact Research Services for help finding similar resources. 

How long can I keep my interlibrary loan item?

If you request a physical item, the due date of your item depends on the loan period set by the library we borrow it from. Some libraries ask that we return their item in a month, some allow us to borrow it for three months. However, if you need more time with the item, you can always request to renew your item in ILLiad. Keep in mind that there is a chance that the lending library won't allow a renewal (although most will). Check the How-To section of this guide for help requesting a renewal.

If you request a copy of an article or book chapter, you will have access to it in ILLiad for a month after you receive it. If you plan on needing the article for longer, you will need to download the pdf to your personal computer within the month.

What happens if Bertrand can't get the item I want?

We will always make our best effort to get the items you want for you. However, it occasionally happens that there are very few libraries that own the item, or no libraries are able to lend us the item you want. This doesn't happen often, but if it does, we'll evaluate the item and see if we can buy it and add it to our collection. It may take a while for us to first exhaust our borrowing options and then evaluate the item for purchase, so please be patient as we work to fill your request. You can always track the status of your request in ILLiad to see where it is in the interlibrary loan process.


If you need the item for your studies and we can't get it for you, or you need the item faster than we can get it, please contact Research Services for help finding similar resources.

I need this item FAST - What should I do?

If you have an urgent need for a physical item, please use the "Rush and Hold at the Circulation Desk" option in the ILLiad request form. 

A screenshot of the ILL request form that asks the question "How would you like this delivered?". There are four options, which are "hold for pickup at circulation," "shelve in the bertrand collection," "rush and hold at the circulation desk," and "stream for Moodle (specify class in notes)". The option to Rush and Hold at the circulation desk is selected.


Or, use the "Needed by" field to tell us that we should stop trying to fill your request if we can't get it by that date.

A screenshot of the ILL request form with the question "When do you need this by?". Below the question is a text box showing the date 3/22/2023 and a calendar emoji to choose a new date.


If you have an urgent need for an electronic copy of something, the fastest way to get your item is to include the ISBN or ISSN of the main book or journal on your ILLiad request form. Requests for electronic copies that include the ISBN or ISSN number are automatically sent first through RapidILL, an automated service that Bertrand Library subscribes to that allows copy requests to be filled as soon as a few hours after you submit them.

Contact ILL staff

If you have questions about the ILL process, you can ask at the circulation desk or in research services.

If you have specific questions about an ILL request you have placed, please email us at If you know the transaction number, please include that in your email as well. You can find the transaction number by logging into ILLiad and looking at your request.