Interlibrary Loan FAQ

Can’t find what you need at Preus Library? No problem! We network with thousands of other libraries around the globe to borrow and lend library materials. Interlibrary loan (ILL) can almost always get you what you need, and at no cost to you.

Login to your ILL account with your Norse Key.
View Preus Library’s Interlibrary Loan (ILL) policies for complete information about ILL services.
Contact ILL with questions: [email protected] or 563-387-1726.

How do I request something through ILL?
Who is allowed to use ILL?
What can I borrow through ILL?
Am I allowed to use ILL for non-schoolwork?
How long does it take to receive an ILL item?
How long can I keep my ILL items?
How do I renew ILL items?
Why was my request canceled?
Can I borrow textbooks?

How do I request something through ILL?

You have three options:

  1. Search for what you want in the library catalog and click “Request through Interlibrary Loan”. It will take you to your ILL account and auto-fill the ILL request form for you. (You may also encounter the “Request through Interlibrary Loan” link in our online databases.)
  2. Login to your ILL account directly and fill out a blank request form from the side menu.
  3. Email [email protected] with your request.

Provide as much useful information as you can, especially if you need a specific version or format of a resource. Be sure to let us know in the “Notes” field if you’re working on your senior project or research with a professor.

The first time you login to your ILL account with your Norse Key, you’ll be asked to fill out a brief registration form. You’ll only need to do this once.

Who is allowed to use ILL?

Interlibrary loan is available for all students, faculty, and staff at Luther College. No special permission is required. If you have an active Norse Key, you can login and create your ILL account.  

What can I borrow using ILL?

Most books, journal articles, scanned book chapters, DVDs, and music scores are easily available through interlibrary loan. Dissertations and theses, older media (e.g. CDs, VHS, microforms), and materials owned only by international libraries are less readily available, but can still be obtained in some cases.

The following types of materials are generally not available through interlibrary loan: entire ebooks, new books and films released within the last 6-12 months, encyclopedias or dictionaries, articles or book chapters longer than 50 pages, entire periodical or journal volumes.

If you’re not sure whether something would be available through ILL, please email [email protected] and ask. We’ll investigate it together.

There are no hard limits on how many ILL items you can request.

Am I allowed to use ILL for non-schoolwork? 

Yes! You are welcome to request ILL items for extracurricular activities, pleasure reading, or other reasons. Your interlibrary loan privileges are not restricted to academic coursework.  

How long does it take to receive an ILL item?

It depends on what you’re asking for. Delivery times can vary widely. We recommend that you plan on 1-2 weeks for physical materials (books, DVDs) and 5 days for electronic articles, but things may arrive much sooner than that.

Electronic articles and scanned book chapters are often very quick. Preus Library participates in OCLC’s Express Delivery program, a network of 1100+ libraries committed to delivering articles and other digital resources within 18 hours or less

Preus Library is also a member of an Iowa libraries courier network. If a book you need is available somewhere in the Iowa Library Alliance, you could receive it in as few as 2-4 business days.

Uncommon, highly specialized, and esoteric resources often take longer to acquire. If you are requesting something unusual or rare, please be prepared to wait a little longer.

How long can I keep my ILL items?

Electronic PDFs of articles and book chapters are yours to keep.

For physical items, ILL due dates are assigned by the libraries who own the material. Loan periods typically range from 4 weeks to 12 weeks. Renewals are often (though not always) available.

We try to prioritize borrowing from libraries who have generous loan periods, but must also balance other factors (availability, cost, estimated delivery time). If you’re concerned about the loan period for a particular item, please contact [email protected].

How do I renew ILL items?

Some ILL items can be renewed, and some cannot. It depends on which library sent us the material, and how many renewals they allow. Your ILL notification emails for individual items should say “Renewable: Yes” or “Renewable: No”. If you’re not sure, email [email protected] and we’ll look it up for you.

Renew items by logging into your ILL account and selecting “View/Renew Requests” on the side menu. Select the item you’d like to renew, and then click “Renew Request.” This option will only appear for items that are able to be renewed.

Please note: the library who owns the material still needs to approve the renewal. You should receive a follow-up email within a day or two indicating whether or not the lending library has approved the renewal, and if so, what the new due date will be. If you don’t receive an email, please contact [email protected].  

Why was my request canceled?

We hate saying “no”. The ILL department will do our absolute best to locate what you need, but unfortunately it doesn’t work out sometimes. If a resource is essential for your research, and your ILL request for it was canceled, please contact a librarian for assistance. Librarians have additional powers, and may be able to open some doors for you.

ILL requests can be canceled for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • We’ve exhausted all possible sources. To borrow something through ILL, we need to find at least one other library who a) owns the item, and b) is willing and able to lend it to us. Sometimes, especially for uncommon items, textbooks, or some dissertations, we can’t locate an available copy to borrow.
  • You’ve requested an item that is not yet published or too newly published. Brand new books and films, especially popular ones, are typically already in use at the libraries who own them. For books or films published within the last 6-12 months, there are often no available copies for us to borrow.
  • The item can’t be borrowed. Some things are just plain not available through ILL, sometimes for legal or contractual reasons. The biggest example would be ebooks. Restrictive publisher license agreements usually prohibit the borrowing and lending of full ebooks through ILL.

Can I borrow textbooks? 

Yes, you can borrow some textbooks using interlibrary loan, but you will need to be savvy and strategic about it. In some cases, you will be better served by purchasing or renting your textbooks. Here are some tips and suggestions:

  • What kinds of textbooks do your classes require? Some are more easily obtainable through ILL than others. Literature, monographs, and books that aren’t solely written for academic coursework are often available. Large textbooks specifically designed for coursework (especially science, math, and business textbooks) are often unavailable through ILL.
  • Brand new editions of textbooks are almost never available through ILL. If your class requires a textbook that was published within the last 1-2 years, ask your professor whether older editions of the textbook are acceptable. Use the “Notes” field on the ILL request form to indicate which edition(s) would meet your needs.
  • If you know you will need one large textbook for a class for the whole semester, ILL might not be the best option. ILL items usually have shorter due dates than regular library items, and renewals aren’t always available (see How long can I keep my ILL items?). You might not be able to keep your ILL textbooks for the full semester. You must return your ILL items by the assigned due dates.
  • Ask your professor for their course syllabus to see when your class will be using each textbook, and time your ILL requests accordingly. For example: if the syllabus shows assigned readings from a particular textbook only during the second half of the semester, you shouldn’t request the textbook right away. Wait until several weeks into the semester so that you’re more likely to still have access to the textbook when you most need it. Otherwise, the textbook might be due back before you’ve even begun to use it.
  • If your professor requires a textbook with an access code or other accompanying online material, this material is not available through ILL.