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The Research Process

Resource unavailable? We'll help you get it!

Mears Library has access to information from thousands of sources, but at some point you may need a resource that we don't have. The great news? We can probably still get it for you, and quickly!

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a resource sharing service lets us borrow items from other libraries. We can often get items as soon as the same day, but it's best to plan for one to two weeks for delivery. 

Answers to frequently asked questions:

  • Who can use ILL? Students, faculty and staff at USF

  • How do I request materials? Request materials using the prompt in Mears Discovery, or email your request.

  • What should I include in the request? (required, helpful)

    • Your name and email address

    • Journal name/Book title

    • Article title/Book chapter

    • Author

    • Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 

    • Publication year

    • Volume, issue, number

    • page numbers/chapter numbers

  • What types of materials can I request? Generally, if you can get the same type of item at Mears, you can borrow it through ILL. There are a few *exceptions, such as textbooks, rare items, and games. There are also limitations on how much we can borrow from a digital item. For example, we can ask for an article or chapter from a Journal or eBook, but not the entire item. 

  • How long does it take? Monday - Friday, we often fulfill requests for digital items in 24-48 hours. Physical items take about a week. 

  • Is there a fee? It's a free service for eligible users! However, sometimes the only copy available is at a library that charges for ILL. When that happens, we will reach out and verify if you are willing to pay that fee before we process the request. 

  • How long can I keep items?

    • You are free to use digital copies according to Mears' copyright policy.

    • Physical items are often due in around a month, depending on the lending library.

    • If you need more time, ask for a renewal. 

  • What if I lose or damage an item? It happens! You would need to pay for lost or damaged items. Please contact us, and we'll help you through the process.

  • *Why didn't I get the item I requested? While can fill most requests, sometimes we can't. That happens when:

    • There are limited copies worldwide

    • The item is from an archive or special collection

    • The item is at an institution that doesn't offer ILL

    • The item is a textbook, board game, reference book or bound periodical

    • While we can borrow articles and chapters from journals and eBooks, we can't borrow complete eBooks or Journals. 

    • The item is a digital format that cannot be shared, such as music, movies or software