Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a widespread service by which one library will loan materials to another library for the purpose of checking it out to a patron.

The most widely recognized ILL system is run by OCLC, but informal and formal agreements among local libraries (public, academic, school, and sometimes corporate) extend this system. Typically, books are available for ILL if they are not rare, delicate, or needed for other purposes; other kinds of materials (music, audiobooks, realia, etc.) are often not available.

Some libraries charge a small fee to cover the expense of shipping your requested materials back and forth; other libraries absorb this cost as part of their budgeted expenses. Because each library's patrons are typically also its main source of funding, ILL agreements often allow borrowing by other people (this means YOU) only under certain restrictions. You can usually only check out an ILL item for a few weeks, and usually cannot renew these items.

Despite these restrictions, interlibrary loan is still a wonderful system of great value to scholars and casual readers who seek items which are only available several time zones away.

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