Interlibrary Loan (ILL) FAQs

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Who is eligible for service?

All Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services are available to the following users who have active, valid Northwestern NetIDs:

  • Faculty, including visiting and emeriti
  • Graduate students
  • Undergraduate students
  • Staff

Alumni and guest borrowers may only request articles from the Chicago campus libraries. Students not currently registered may not place ILL requests.

What can I get?

ILL orders materials which are not owned by Northwestern University Library (NUL), are declared missing or lost, or are in use. ILL services, including electronic delivery of articles, are free to all NU students, faculty and staff.

ILL will attempt to borrow or obtain the following:
  • Books
  • Dissertations and theses
  • Journal articles
  • Newspapers 
  • Government documents
  • Conference proceedings and papers
  • Technical reports
  • Patents: you can access US patents for free here
  • Scores
  • Photocopies from rare books and manuscripts
  • Video resources
  • Sound recordings
We may attempt to locate a supplier, but the following materials are extremely difficult to borrow through ILL channels.
  • Rare books
  • Textbooks
  • Entire volumes or issues of journals
  • Reference books
  • Genealogical resources

How long does it take?

We order from several libraries and wait for a response. Most items arrive within 7-10 business days.

What are the ILL loan periods?

Loan periods are determined by the lending library and are usually 4 to 12 weeks. Restrictions such as "no renewal" or "library use only" are strictly observed. All borrowed materials can be returned to the ILL service desk or the Main Library Circulation Desk.

How will ILL notify me when my request has arrived?

When your request has been received we will notify you via email. Please retrieve items at your earliest convenience.

How do I get my article?

Journal articles are delivered as PDF files and accessed through your ILL account. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view or print them. 

Patrons are notified of received articles via email. To view the article Log on to your ILL account and click on the link to Electronically Received Articles.

How do I check the status of my request?

You can Log on to your ILL account to check the status of your ILL requests. You can also call (847) 491-2893 or email ill-request@northwestern.edu to check the status of your request.

Can I get dissertations?

Some institutions do not circulate their dissertations. If the ILL department cannot borrow the dissertation, the patron has the option of purchasing his or her own copy. Most dissertations can be purchased here.

What are the fines for overdue ILL materials?

While we do not assess daily fines, the failure to return a book or other material may result in being billed for the replacement of the item, suspension of library privileges, or both.