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Interlibrary Loan: Frequently Asked Questions

Who may borrow materials from the Library of Congress?

Any domestic and international academic, public, and special library may borrow from us.  Our lending policies are governed by these two documents: National Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States External Link (from ALA) and International Lending and Document Delivery External Link (from IFLA).

Please note: Individuals do not have permission to borrow directly from the Library of Congress. You must go through your public library or university library in order to borrow from us.

How much does it cost for interlibrary loan?

Our services are free to libraries in the 50 states and Puerto Rico.  For international libraries, the fees are 3 full IFLA vouchers per book and 2 full IFLA vouchers per article.

For requests submitted from outside the U.S. via OCLC, you must include the correct charge in the max cost field. For loans, you should put $24 IFM; for copies, you should put $16 IFM. Requests submitted without the correct charges will not be processed.

How long does it take?

Due to the high volume of requests received at the Library of Congress each day from all over the world, a request may take up to a few weeks to process.  If your request has been in the system for some time, please email us at [email protected] (if domestic library) or [email protected] (if international) to obtain your request status.  Alternatively, you can call 202-707-5444 to talk to us.

How do I submit my request?

There are two ways to submit an interlibrary loan request to us:

1) Via OCLC at External Link.  This route requires you to be a member of OCLC in order to send your request to us.

2) If you are not a member of OCLC, you may submit a request through our website.  You must register as a Lending Web borrower first by submitting the form found here: First Time Registration for ILL.  Your application will be reviewed, and an email response sent to you with a user ID and password, which you may use to submit an actual Interlibrary Loan borrowing request.

Before you submit your request, please check our online catalog to see if we own the item you want at:

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us directly at 202-707-5444 or email us at [email protected] (domestic) or [email protected] (international).

What can I borrow?

Most of our books and some microfilm collections can be borrowed for two months.  However, unless there is also a microfilm copy, many of our special collections do not circulate, including serials, rare, genealogy and local history, manuscript, and performing arts materials. 

How do I find out whether or not you have what I need?

The best way to find out what we have is to search our online catalog at:

If you still need assistance, please call us at 202-707-5444.

Do you have everything?

No, we do not.  After all, we have always been a library with collections policy guidelines, much like your own, just larger.  While it is true that Copyright law requires deposit of two copies of everything copyrighted in the United States, all these items are not necessarily added to the Library of Congress’ collections. However, the Library of Congress does have more than 144 million items, which include more than 33 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

Are there any renewals?

Unfortunately, our policy does not allow renewals.  Our materials can be borrowed for two months and must be returned when they are due.  If you wish to discuss the due date, or other circulation policies, please call an Account Representative at 202-707-5441, or send an email to [email protected]

May I submit RUSH requests?

Due to the high volume of requests, and our obligation to serve all U.S. taxpayers equally, we cannot accept rush requests.

Do you have a waiting list?

Unfortunately, we do not.  While we lend our materials worldwide, the Library of Congress is only a lending library and our office is not set up to function as a full circulation operation.  Thus, we lack the resources needed to maintain a waiting list or a reserves shelf.

Do I have an account with the Library of Congress?

For all account questions and/or issues, please contact an Account Representative at 202-707-5441, or send an email to [email protected].

Does the Library of Congress update the status of requests in OCLC?

The Library of Congress does not update the status of OCLC and email requests when material has been returned to LC. Returning books are only discharged in the LC online circulation system. If you are concerned about whether an item you borrowed from LC has been returned, contact the Accounts Unit by calling 202-707-5441.

How do I contact you?

For interlibrary loan request-related reference inquiries, please contact us at 202-707-5444 or email us at [email protected] (domestic), or [email protected] (international). 

For circulation issues, please contact an Account Representative at 202-707-5441, or send an email to [email protected]

Am I able to get articles scanned from microfilmed materials?

Currently, we do not provide this service but plan to in the future. Please keep checking with us as we hope to add this service; and, remember, you may borrow the microfilm if is it available.

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  April 11, 2018
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