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Fondren Library Center

Interlibrary Loan Department

Policy and FAQ


Who can use this service?

Service is limited to current SMU students, current or retired faculty, and current or retired staff. The materials requested should be for course assignments and research. Borrowers must have a valid SMU ID.

Undergraduate students, because of their shorter time restraints, should consult with a reference librarian about their research needs before submitting a request.

Interlibrary loan service is also available at your local public library.

What can I request?

In general, anything can be requested. However, the following types of materials are difficult to obtain through Interlibrary Loan:

  • Complete issues of periodicals or newspapers
  • Reference books
  • Compact discs/DVDs/videos/audio tapes
  • Archival materials
  • Rare or old materials
  • Items in Special Collections
  • Best sellers
  • Recently published books
  • Books in overseas libraries

We do nor order books that are owned by the SMU Libraries in some format, course textbooks, or books you have already borrowed once.
We can not request course textbooks or books to be put on Course Reserve through Interlibrary Loan because the loan periods given are not long enough for semester use.

How much does it cost?

ILL service is offered free to SMU users. The library pays all fees and delivery charges. However, the average cost to the library is more than $16.00 per item so please be judicious in choosing the materials you request. A $5.00 service fee will be charged to your university account if requested material is not picked up. Occasionally materials are available only from libraries which require prepayment. If prepayment is required, you must supply the prepayment.

Where do I pick up my materials?

When a requested item is received, you will be notified by e-mail or telephone and may pick up the item at the Fondren Library Center Circulation Desk any hour that the library is open.

How long does it take?

Although turnaround times can vary widely depending on how fast the lending library responds to our request, we suggest that you consider the following guidelines concerning delivery times when planning your research:

Books and other loanables:Allow 10-15 days
Photocopies of articles:Allow 5-10 days

How long can I keep an item?

We check interlibrary loans out to you for three weeks. Some institutions do not allow renewals on requested materials. If the library has already stated "No Renewals", this will be indicated on the bookstrap or bookmark. If you wish to extend the loan period, submit a renewal request via our online system or contact the Interlibrary Loan office at 214-768-2328 or 214-768-3373 at least 3 days before the due date.  Renewal requests are conditional.  If your renewal request is granted by the lending library, you will be notified with the new due date.   However, renewals are seldom granted so plan your research so that you have adequate time to use the interlibrary loan materials during the original three week loan period.  Overdue materials can not be renewed.

Can I request an item multiple times?

We will request an item for you more than once if it has been six months since the last time you received it.

What about overdue books?

Books must be returned on or before the due date. ILL users will be charged overdue fines of $1.00 per day per item. While Interlibrary Loan books are not checked out on the library catalog system, overdue fines and fees will be charged to your library account, generally after the book is returned.  You will be sent overdue notices via e-mail and bills for overdue fines via regular mail.  If you do not respond promptly to the overdue notice, your interlibrary loan account will be blocked.

What happens if I lose or damage a book?

You are responsible for the book until it is returned to the Interlibrary Loan Office.  The policies for lost or damaged books are the same for interlibrary loans as for SMU materials.  Your library account will be charged a minimum of $50.00 to replace the book, a $25.00 processing fee, and any overdue fines up to a maximum of $30.00 ($105.00 total).

Can undergraduates use the Interlibrary Loan service?

Sure, but most undergraduate students will find their information needs can be met from the SMU Libraries collections. You should discuss your research needs with a Reference Librarian before submitting a request.  She may be able to help you find equivalent materials in the SMU Libraries.  Be sure to start your research early to allow plenty of time (at least 2-3 weeks) for us to obtain the materials you need.

Where do I return interlibrary loans?

We appreciate you returning loans to the Interlibrary Loan Office (with their identifying interlibrary loan bookmark or bookstrap intact!)  Your extra steps help ensure that the material will find its way back to the owning library and that you are not charged for a lost item.  You may also return materials to the circulation desk when the Interlibrary Loan Office is not open. Please do not put interlibrary loans in the Book Return bins outside the library and please do not return them to any other library on campus!

Is rush delivery available?

If research material is needed quickly, Rush Processing is available.  Rush Processing ensures 24 hour handling within the ILL office with special steps taken to expedite delivery. Rush Processing is available for a $20.00 charge per request. Treatment of the received request and the actual method of delivery is always at the discretion of the lending library.
If an item is requested "Rush," the ILL staff will telephone the library from which it is being requested to alert its ILL office to the request. In addition to the $20.00 surcharge on Rush requests, any additional delivery charges will be the responsibility of the requester.
Commercial Document Delivery Sources
If even faster delivery is needed than that available via ILL Rush Processing, you might be able to obtain documents through a commercial document delivery service. Delivery is usually by download, FAX, or overnight mail in as little as 24 hours. Prices generally range from $11.00 to $40.00 an article including copyright fees, may be tiered by delivery preference and can usually be paid by credit card.
A list of document delivery suppliers is maintained by Jean Shipman at the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries and Information Center.

Why does it take so long for my interlibrary loans to arrive?

Interlibrary Loan requests are processed in the order in which they are received. Our goal is to send your request to potential lenders within 24 hours of receipt. After your request is sent we have no control over how long it takes to arrive.
Your request is transmitted over the internet to as many as five libraries, in priority sequence.  Each library then gets up to three days to fill your request or pass it on to the next library in the list. So several weeks can pass just waiting for a library to agree to send us the item.
Another frequent reason for slow delivery is the delivery method used by the lending library.  If the book is sent by U.S. mail at the lower cost library rate, it can take several weeks for the book to arrive.

Can I borrow theses and dissertations?

We now have a subscription to Dissertations and Theses Full Text. Generally there is only one library which owns a copy of a particular thesis or dissertation.  We will try to borrow a dissertation for you.  Most U.S. colleges will loan their dissertations as long as they have more than one copy in their collection.  Many graduate students submit their dissertations to University Microfilms for distribution.

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Now open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week
SMU ID required after 9pm

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