Skip to main content

Requesting Unavailable Items

If your materials are unavailable at Northwestern, you may be able to borrow them from another library. 

Requesting items from other libraries

NUsearch: You can request a copy from another library directly from within NUsearch. Sign in to your account, click “Get it” and select the ILL @NU link to request a copy.

WorldCat: If the item you’re looking for isn’t in NUsearch, check WorldCat to confirm that the item you’re looking for is available at other libraries. If you find it, click the ILL@NU button in the item record to place your request.

ILL Form: You may also fill out the ILL request form directly, and we will find the item for you.

How your request is processed

Interlibrary loaned materials are available for varying lengths of time, depending on the library it is borrowed from. We will try to find a copy of your requested item which will be available for the longest loan period. 

  1. All Interlibrary loan requests are searched in UBorrow first, which is our consortial borrowing system of 14 CIC (Big Ten) partners. This provides you a guaranteed 12-week loan period, with the option of a 4-week renewal. DVDs and other special format materials will have shorter periods. Items typically arrive within 6 days.
  2. If an item is not available in UBorrow, we then use a worldwide Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system to request items from other partner libraries, as well as libraries from around the world. Loan periods vary, but most institutions provide a 60-day loan period and at least a two-week renewal. Items typically arrive in 7 to 10 days.

Pickup of ILL materials

ILL materials can be picked up at the University Library Circulation desk, the Mudd Library Service Desk or the Schaffner Library Service Desk. Please select your pick up location when you initially register for ILL @ NU. 

We go to all reasonable lengths to obtain materials for users as quickly as possible and will pay associated fees to lending libraries. It takes an average of 7 to 10 days for loan materials to arrive. Journal articles and book chapters are usually available more quickly.

Suggest a Purchase

If there is a book, DVD, or journal that you believe should be in Northwestern Libraries' collections, complete the Purchase Suggestion form. The request will be forwarded on to the appropriate subject specialist who will contact you if your item has been purchased.