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Please check the library catalog before requesting materials through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Requests for items owned by Harris County Public Library and its branches will not be processed unless items requested are more than 60 days overdue or lost on the circulation system.

Access the Texas Group Catalog.

Frequently Asked Questions: Interlibrary Loan

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

Interlibrary Loan is a system that allows libraries to share resources with one another. ILL staff locate a potential lending library and send a request to borrow the item you seek. The lending library photocopies articles or checks out the material in the name of Harris County Public Library. It then mails it to HCPL for you to pick up and check out on your library card.

Click here for instructions on placing ILL requests in the Texas Group Catalog.

When should I use Interlibrary Loan?

Use ILL only when the item you wish to checkout is not owned by Harris County Public Library System and the item is at least six months post-publication or post-release.

How do I order an ILL?

ILL requests can be placed online using the Texas Group Catalog/Navigator ILL system. There is a limit to 10 active requests (filled or pending) at any given time through ILL. You must have a valid Harris County Public Library card, PIN, and email address. Notices regarding ILL requests will be sent to the email address on file.

What information do I need to place an ILL request?

For each item you request, you will need the author’s name, title of the book, and date of publication (if known). When requesting an article from a magazine or journal, you will need the title of the journal, article title, volume number, and pages in which the article appears.


Why am I having trouble placing my ILL request online?

If you are having trouble placing your ILL request and you see an error message, you will need to check on the status of your library account. There are several possibilities that could create a restriction. You could have overdue library materials, an outstanding fine of $25 or more, lost items, or invalid contact information on your account. You will need to correct any restriction before you can place your ILL request.

How much does it cost?

We do not charge any fees for ILL unless they are set by the lending library. Photocopies of articles are usually provided free of charge or for a small fee. Please state on each form the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the requested material. Fines for overdue ILL materials are $.10 per day. If an item is lost or damaged, you are responsible for the replacement cost in addition to any processing fees charged by the lending library. No items with a replacement value of $250 or more will be requested.

Who can order an ILL?

ILL requests can be placed by anyone with a valid Harris County Public Library full-service card. Group and visitor cards do not have ILL borrowing privileges.

How long will it take?

The length of time involved in obtaining a loan or photocopy can vary. We are unable to control the time it may take a lending library to send requested items. However, most materials can be obtained between 2-8 weeks from the date your request was submitted. Be sure to submit your ILL request well in advance of the time you will need them. You will be notified by phone, email, or mail when the material arrives. Materials ready for pickup are held at the customer service desk for 10 days. If we are unable to fulfill your request, you will receive an email notification with this information.

How long do I get to keep the material?

DVDs and CDs have a 4 week checkout period.

Books and audiobooks have a 4 week checkout period.

HCPL does not renew interlibrary loans.

Our library respects all restrictions placed on materials by the lending library. ILL relies on consideration and goodwill between libraries. When ILL materials are not returned promptly, it reflects poorly on the borrowing library and some lenders may stop lending materials to the offending library. Customer abuse of ILL due dates, accepted conditions on loans or damage to ILL materials will result in the suspension of a customer’s ILL loan privileges. Please return your ILL materials on or before the due date printed on the checkout slip.

Who can check out my ILL?

ILL may only be checked out on the original requestor’s library account using the requester’s library card or driver’s license. If someone else is picking up your ILL, he/she must present your card or driver’s license to check them out.

What kinds of materials are difficult to obtain through ILL?

Although we attempt to fulfill almost any request, the following types of materials are often difficult to obtain through ILL:

· Recently published books (less than 6 months old)

· Entire volumes or issue of periodicals

· Reference works

· Rare books or original manuscripts

· Audiobooks, video, DVD’s

· Some doctoral dissertations and master theses

· Genealogy materials

· Some microfilm is available, but usually involves a lengthy wait due to availability

What materials cannot be borrowed?

Materials that are currently part of the collection of the Harris County Public Library system may not be requested through ILL. The Library will not borrow software, video games, LP’s downloadable content, electronic resources, or any materials outside the United States.

What happens if I return the material late or the item is lost or damaged?

The customer is responsible for all fees that are charged by the lending library due to damage or loss. Unpaid fines and fees will go on a customer’s library record and if not resolved will result in the loss of borrowing privileges. Customers must be careful to return all ILL materials on time with any identifying labels.

ILL is a special service that the Library is able to offer its customers. It has unique procedures and guidelines that Harris County Public Library and its customer must follow. If HCPL customers have any questions about this service, they are encouraged to contact their local branch for additional information.