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Policies and Frequently Asked Questions

General Information:

Billing Information:

Technical Information / Troubleshooting:


General Information

Tips for effective use of Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery Services


  • Provide a complete, correct citation. Include the author(s), title, and year of publication for books; journal title, article author(s) and title, volume, date, and pages for journal article requests. We have a much better success rate with enough information to identify the item.
  • Journal article citations generally follow a standard format. For example: "12(3) June 1999: 12-15" means volume 12, issue number 3, published in June 1999. The article appears on pages 12-15. Putting those numbers in the right place in the request form is important!
  • If an ISSN or ISBN number, OCLC accession number or PubMed PMID is provided in the database entry, please include it in the space provided.
  • Incomplete or incorrect citations delay the process. If you are not sure of information, don't guess. When you provide us with a complete, correct citation we have a much better success rate.


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How long does it take to receive materials?

  • Turnaround time is generally determined by the format of the material and shipping time for physical items:
    • Scans of print journal articles are usually available in 1-2 business days.
    • Physical items such as books, bound journals, microfilm, and DVDs from non-UW libraries usually take one to two weeks because of shipping times. Some items are more difficult to find or are shipped from farther away, so they take even longer.


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How many requests can I make at a time?

  • You can have up to 100 active requests at a given time. Physical item requests are active from the time they are placed until the item is returned to the UW Libraries. Scan requests are active from the time they are placed until 30 days after the scan is delivered, or until you delete the article from your account, whichever is sooner.


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I'm a UW distance student, can I have books - or other library materials - shipped to me?

  • Shipping for both UW and non-UW materials to an off-campus address is available for all UW students, faculty and staff for a fee. Go here for current fees information.
  • To request shipping, complete the ILL physical item request form and select the ship to home option.
  • Shipping fees will apply; you will receive an invoice monthly for any charges.
  • If you live near a Summit library, consider becoming a Visiting Patron. More information here.


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How long can I keep the materials?

  • Scanned articles are yours to keep. Be sure to download or print them promptly. We will delete them from the server after 30 days. Also keep in mind that most articles are protected by copyright. You should not post scanned articles to the web or print out multiple copies to share with others without obtaining permission from the publisher.
  • Loan periods are determined by the owning library. Most materials have a loan period of 6 weeks and are not renewable (a note that says "No Renewals" will be on the bookband). All loans are subject to recall by the lending library.


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How do I save my request history?

  • You can view limited information about your past ILL requests by clicking "All Requests" on the left menu bar in your ILL account.
  • To save your request history, click-and-drag (press and hold the mouse button and move the mouse while you continue to hold the mouse button) to select all text in the "All Requests" table.
  • Copy the highlighted text by typing CTRL + C (Windows) or Command + C (Mac).
  • Paste the copied text by typing CTRL + V (Windows) or Command + V (Mac) into a new file such as MS Word or Excel.
  • Save the new file.


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    How do I return borrowed materials?

    • The paper band identifying an Interlibrary Loan book must be left on the cover at all times to make sure that the book is properly identified and checked in when it is returned.
    • Materials borrowed through Interlibrary Loan can be returned to any UW Library or to a dropbox.
    • You may also mail books to:
      Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery Services
      University of Washington Libraries
      G027 Suzzallo Library
      Box 352900
      Seattle, WA 98195-2900



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    Can I borrow videos and other media?

    • We are seldom able to provide access to videos and other media for Non-UW customers.
    • We will try to get them for current UW students, faculty and staff.
    • However, it is difficult and expensive to borrow media from other institutions. Please limit your requests for media to items related to coursework or instruction.
    • Alternate Sources for Media Items:
      • If the UW Libraries owns this item on VHS, but your classroom only has a DVD player, please contact Classroom Support Services to have a VHS player provided to the classroom.


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    Can I borrow e-books?

    • Probably not. Most libraries can't lend e-books through ILL because of electronic rights management (ERM) and licensing restrictions. If you place an ILL request for an e-book, be sure to say in the notes whether a print copy is also acceptable. If we are able to borrow the e-version, we will email you URL link and a password to the read-only ebook file.


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    What types of material can't be obtained via this service?

    • There are some materials that you are unable to get using this service:
      • Books for course reserve use that are not owned by the UW Libraries.
      • Items that are owned by the UW Libraries that are currently available, regardless of format.
      • Books from other libraries, if you are an individual who is not currently affiliated with the University of Washington (including alumni).
    • There are also some items that are difficult to borrow from other libraries, and may not be available:
      • Bestsellers
      • Textbooks
      • E-books
      • Reference materials
      • Books or other items published in the last year. Please consider a Purchase Suggestion.
      • Entire volumes or issues of periodicals
      • Non-print formats; cds, videos, kits, slides, etc.
      • Genealogical and local history materials. Please cite any names or other entries you would like to have photocopied.
      • Materials published prior to 1850, archival, rare manuscript, or fragile materials, or newspapers unless available in microform.


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    Why does Interlibrary Loan ask me if I want them to request from an international library if it is not available in the U.S.?

    • If your requested item is not available from any U.S. Libraries, ILL will try to borrow it internationally. Loans from international libraries can take up to 6-8 weeks to arrive.  ILL is able to provide this service for items that are necessary and important to your research, but asks you to confirm this when you place your request due to the time it takes to receive these items and the cost to the libraries.

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    What do the scans I get look like?

    • Some electronic files are downloads of "born digital" documents. Other files are scanned from print volumes in the UW Libraries or other Libraries' collections and converted to PDF format for easy access. These files are usually 200-300 dpi and black and white or grayscale. These scans will be a good representation of what the page looks like, but the text may not always be searchable (OCR). It may also include some of the flaws that are present in the original volume including the curvature of the page as the volume is opened, gutter shadows, and hints of text that shows through from the back side of a page. You may even see an occasional scanned image of someone's hand holding the original as flat as possible to get a good scan. We do our best to minimize the flaws and give you the best scan possible, but it will never look as good as a document that was "born digital." Our scans are primarily intended for research, not reproduction, publication, or archiving.


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    May I share the PDFs I receive with colleagues or my students?

    • It is sometimes OK to share your scanned item with UW colleagues for instructional or research needs. Scans received using the "Request a Scan for Canvas" form (instructors only) are always ok to share with students using the Canvas tool.
    • It is often OK to make a small number of print copies to share with non-UW colleagues.
    • It is almost never OK to post your scanned item on a publicly accessible website or to sell or redistribute its content.
    • For more information, see the Step-by-Step Guide to Copyright Compliance.


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    How do UW affiliates request materials for personal (non UW-related) use?

    • Books owned by the UW Libraries or our Summit partners may be sent to the library branch of your choice using UW Libraries Search.
    • Books that are owned by other libraries may be requested through interlibrary loan at your public library. You may also request articles through your public library. Most public libraries provide interlibrary loan at minimal cost to you.
    • Articles for personal or recreational use by UW affiliates may be obtained for a fee. Costs for this service are not subsidized by the UW Libraries, so you must place requests as though you are a non-UW customer.
    • To do this, you must create a non-UW account and log in as a non-UW customer. If you choose to do this, please use a non-UW email address if possible.


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    Why was my ILL request canceled?


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    • Keep in mind that most articles are protected by copyright. You should not post scanned articles to the web or print out multiple copies to share with others without obtaining permission from the publisher.
    • COPYRIGHT law pertains to copies of journal articles and other printed material as follows:
      The copyright law of the United States (Title 17. United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy/reproduction is not to be "USED FOR ANY PURPOSES OTHER THAN PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP, or RESEARCH." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes IN EXCESS of fair use, that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

    I'm staff at another library - how do I send you an ILL request?

    • We are happy to scan or loan many of our materials to other libraries and institutions. You can send us a request one of three ways:
        • OCLC Worldshare ILL. Our OCLC symbol is WAU. Information about our OCLC loan policies and fees can be found in the OCLC Policies Directory.
        • DOCLINE. Our DOCLINE symbol is WAUWAS. Information about our DOCLINE loan policies and fees can be found in our profile (WAUWAS) in the Institutions tab within DOCLINE.
        • RapidILL. Our RapidILL symbol is RAPID:WAU.
        • By using our online webform. Information about our general loan policies and fees can be found here.


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    Billing Information

    I'm a Cascadia Community College affiliate; why am I being charged?

    • Cascadia Community College contracts with the University of Washington for library services. The fees you are charged are in accordance with this agreement.


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    Why does Interlibrary Loan assign a billing account to me when I register even though my requests are free?

    • All registered Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Service users are automatically assigned a billing account. If you are a current UW student, faculty or staff member, you will be charged for any extra services that you request. The fees for extra services are clearly marked on the request forms.


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    Why was I charged to get an article from an outside source when the UW subscribes to the journal electronically?

    • Many of the databases, electronic journals and e-books available through the Libraries are restricted to UW faculty, students and staff. When license restrictions do not allow us to provide a copy of an article to someone who is not affiliated with the UW, we must obtain it from another institution that has a print subscription to the journal. So non-UW clientele are charged the extra fees that are associated with borrowing from an outside source.


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    Technical Information / Troubleshooting

    I'm having problems logging in, placing a request, or downloading my article, what do I do?

    • We use an electronic system, called ILLiad, to process your requests. It uses a web browser to communicate with library users. Visit this page for help with common technical issues.

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    What does it mean if my account has been blocked?

    • Your account may be blocked if you have unpaid fines from the Library Account Services or your Library account has expired.
    • If your account is blocked you will not be able to place new requests. However, you will continue to be able to view your request history.
    • Please contact the Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery Services office to find out what you need to do to clear the block.

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    How do I resubmit an ILL request?

    • Login to your Interlibrary Loan account.
    • In the navigation bar, choose "Canceled Requests."
    • Click on the transaction number of the request you wish to resubmit.
    • On the "Detailed Information" page, click on the "Resubmit Request" button at top right.
    • Make any needed changes to the request form.
    • When you have finished, click the "Submit" button at the bottom of the screen.

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    How do I cancel an ILL request?

    • You can cancel a request in your Interlibrary Loan account.
    • In the navigation bar, choose "All Requests."
    • Click on the highlighted number in the Transaction column.
    • Once you do that there should be a link at the top of the screen that says "Cancel Request."
      • If you don't see that link, odds are that a library is already sending us that item. You can email at interlib@u.washington.edu and let us know you won't need the item when it arrives (include the Transaction Number, if possible), and when it arrives we will return it without contacting you.

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    How do I use Loansome Doc to request articles from PubMed?

    • Loansome Doc allows you to place bulk requests for PubMed articles. There are separate instructions for placing requests depending on your status with the UW.


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