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Interlibrary Loan: Policies

How to use Interlibrary Loan.


The ILL service is available to University of South Carolina Columbia faculty members, staff, currently-enrolled students, current members of the Thomas Cooper Society and current members of the Carolina Alumni Association. Persons affiliated with the School of Medicine, the Law School, or the University's Regional and Four-Year campuses should use their respective Interlibrary Loan departments.  

The number of interlibrary loan requests allowed in progress is as follows:

Faculty: 100 active requests

Graduate students: 50 active requests

Staff: 25 active requests

Undergraduates: 15 active requests

Current members of the Carolina Alumni Association: 3 active requests

Borrowing Terms

Materials obtained through interlibrary loan are for your exclusive use and are your responsibility from the time they are checked out to you until they are returned. Items that have been mailed to you through campus mail are your responsibility from the time that they are mailed from our office. We recommend that you return your materials directly to the Interlibrary Loan Department.  Do not return ILL materials to drop boxes.

Overdue materials (including overdue materials from circulation) block you from interlibrary loan borrowing privileges.  If you have overdue ILL or circulation material, you will be unable to access your ILL Express! account.  

The lending library, not our Interlibrary Loan Department staff, sets the conditions for each loan. We cannot change these conditions, and we ask patrons to honor them.  Failure to return materials on time can damage the library's relationship with the libraries from which we acquire materials and may prevent us from borrowing from those libraries in the future.  

The lending library may restrict the use of materials to use within the Thomas Cooper Library only, and may also disallow copying or renewal.  If your loan is restricted to In Library Use Only, it will be held at Thomas Cooper Library; it will not be delivered to the Music Library as your ILL Express! preferences may state.  Restrictions are noted on the ILL Express! label on the front of your borrowed item.  The lending library has the right to recall a loan at any time.

The due date for loans is set by the lending library. Not all items are eligible for renewal. Patrons are expected to keep track of the due dates and to return materials on time.  If you receive overdue notices, you are expected to return the material that day or the following day.  Materials should be returned to the Interlibrary Loan office or to the Thomas Cooper Library Circulation Desk.  

Please do not remove the ILL Express! identification bands that are placed on all borrowed items.  We need them so that we can correctly identify your materials and process them for return to the lending institutions.

Available Materials

The Interlibrary Loan Department staff will attempt to obtain any materials that you may need for your research. Usually, these are books and journal articles (photocopies), but can also include microforms, dissertations and theses, foreign material, government documents, patents, and industry standards. If an item is not owned by the University Library system, or if it is missing and the Circulation Department staff cannot locate it, the Interlibrary Loan Department will try to obtain it. See the Items Not Available From ILL section for exceptions. 

Please note that students may only borrow up to four volumes or microfilm reels from any one title or serial at a time. Additional volumes or reels may be requested when all volumes are returned.

Dissertations and Theses

Many dissertations and theses are already available to you through ProQuest.

Some theses and dissertations are available through interlibrary loan at no charge.  

Always include your citation source in the Citation Information field when requesting a dissertation or thesis.

American Dissertations:

Each library has its own policy regarding the loan of dissertations.  The Interlibrary Loan Department staff can help you determine the availability of dissertations from other libraries.  As an alternative, the Interlibrary Loan Department staff can facilitate your purchase of a dissertation from ProQuest. 

Foreign Dissertations:

Dissertations produced in other countries (except Canada) are generally more difficult to locate and take longer to obtain.  If they are obtainable, they can take as long as 6 to 12 months to arrive.


You may obtain most patents through interlibrary loan.  To request a patent, provide as much information as possible about the patent you need.  Always include your citation source in the Citation Information field when requesting a patent.  Keep in mind that foreign patents may be more difficult to obtain and that there may be a charge associated with these items.

Requesting Industry Standards

Industry standards are not usually available through normal interlibrary loan channels; they may be ordered directly from the organization issuing the standard or purchased from a commercial provider.

Please check at the Library Reference Desk on the Main Level of Thomas Cooper Library to be certain that the standard you need is not already available at the library.

To request a standard, provide as much information as possible about the standard you need.

You may find the information about the standard you need by searching the following standards databases:


ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)

OSHA (Occupational Safey & Health Administration)

Always include your citation source in the Citation Information field when requesting a standard.

Cancellation Information

The Interlibrary Loan department checks to see if requested items are available from library holdings or PASCAL Delivers, a service that offers fast delivery from South Carolina academic libraries, before filling requests.  If items are owned by the University Library system but are checked out, we will place a hold for you to prompt a recall. We also check to see if items are already online. Making sure we utilize our available resources before requesting from other libraries helps us to keep our costs down and provides you with the information you need as quickly as possible. 

Fines and Fees

For most materials, interlibrary loan service is provided free of charge. There may be a fee for a dissertation that we are unable to obtain through normal means, but in this case, the dissertation will belong to the patron. 

Unless the Interlibrary Loan Department is charged replacement or overdue fees by a lending library, patrons with overdue ILL items will not accrue fines for eight weeks past the due date. If an overdue or replacement invoice is received from a lending library, all fines will be immediately placed on the patron’s library account and cannot be removed or reduced once the invoice is paid to the lending library.

If no invoice from a lending library has been received and an ILL item remains outstanding eight weeks after the due date, the patron will be fined a $100 replacement fee.

If the item is returned after the placement of a fine, the replacement fine will be removed for a first-time offense. For second and any additional offenses, patrons will be asked to arrange a meeting with the Head of Interlibrary Loan. Any subsequent offenses will incur a $10 fine. To appeal this fine, please email with the subject line “Appeal.”

Even if a fine is paid in full, all ILL items remain the property of the lending library.

If overdue items become a recurring issue, a patron may be asked to meet with the Head of Interlibrary Loan before ILL privileges are reinstated.

Please note: All items checked out to students returned past their due dates at the end of the spring semester are subject to a $100 fine. 

What If ILL Could Not Get My Request?

Please contact the reference department at (803) 777-4866 or submit an email for help finding a similar or alternate resource.

Additional Services for Faculty Members

If you would like to allow your graduate assistant to check out items to your account, there are two ways to go about it.

1. You may request a proxy card for that student. The form can be obtained at the Circulation Department, by email request or by completing the online form. Proxy cards are issued for one semester. The card will be processed within 2 working days. The proxy card will be mailed to you, the faculty member. You assume full responsibility for all items checked out on the proxy card.

2. Add user to your authorized users list in your ILL account. Again, you assume responsibility for all items checked out by authorized users.

If you have any questions or concerns about services for faculty, you may contact Amber Cook at (803) 777-2805 or by email at