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Interlibrary Loan FAQs

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What is interlibrary loan who may use it?
What materials are available through interlibrary loan?
What materials are not available?
How do I submit a request?
How long does it take?
How will I be notified when the material arrives?
What is the loan period?
How much does it cost?
Where do I return materials?
Are there any restrictions?
What is the difference between interlibrary loan and Virtual Catalog requests?

What is interlibrary loan and who may use it?
Interlibrary loan is a method of requesting materials that are not available locally, either from the Thomas Crane Public Library (TCPL) or from any other library in the Old Colony Library Network (OCLN). Anyone with a valid TCPL or OCLN library card may use this service.

What materials are available through interlibrary loan?

  • Books in English & other languages
  • Large type books
  • Audiobooks (CD & cassette formats)
  • Government documents
  • Sound recordings (CD & cassette formats)
  • DVDs & VHS videos
  • Photocopies of magazines & newspaper articles

Reference and genealogy materials are not generally available for loan but sometimes a library will photocopy relevant pages in response to a request. For any genealogical request, please provide us with the family name you are researching if photocopies would be useful to you.

What materials are not available?
The following types of material cannot normally be requested:

  • Items owned by TCPL or OCLN that are on order or temporarily in use
  • Entire issues of periodicals
  • Multiple copies of a title for class or other group use
  • Titles not yet published
  • Inexpensive readily available paperbacks
  • Bestsellers and items in current popular demand
  • Old, rare or valuable materials

How do I submit a request?
Search the library catalog first, to be sure the item you want is not located there. To avoid delays, you may also wish to ask a librarian to confirm that the item you want is not available in the library. If you are seeking a magazine or newspaper article, ask a librarian if the article is immediately available in the library's periodical collection or online in a full-text database. For catalog or database assistance, call 617-376-1316 or email quref@ocln.org.

For the fastest service, fill out our online request form.  You may also ask for a printed request form when you visit the library. Please fill out a separate request for each item you would like to borrow, up to five requests at one time. For efficient service, supply accurate and complete information about the requested item, along with the source of the information. If you have a specific deadline after which you will no longer need the material, please supply the date on your request form; we will try to obtain the material by your deadline, or will cancel the request and notify you if we can't.

How long does it take?
Please plan ahead when requesting materials. It generally takes about 10 days to fill a loan request and sometimes longer. Photocopy requests are usually filled within a week but can sometimes take longer.

How will I know when the material has arrived?
You will be notified by email, mail or phone when an item is available for pickup. If you submit an online request form, material will be held for pickup or in-library use at the TCPL location you specify on the form. If you fill out a printed request form, material will be held at the same location where you submit the request, unless you specify a different TCPL location on your request form. Photocopied material that does not have to be returned to the supplying library may be emailed to you or held for pickup at a TCPL location.

What is the loan period?
Photocopies are usually yours to keep. Books and other borrowed materials may be checked out for 14 days with no automatic renewals. Material that is only available for in-library use will sometimes be available for longer. Renewals are provided at the owning library's discretion and are not always possible. Please request renewals by telephone (617-376-1319), by email to quill@ocln.org, or in person before the material is due; overdue materials cannot be renewed. 

How much does it cost?
There is usually no charge for borrowing materials, except for postage for mail notification. There is no charge for photocopied materials that can be emailed to you; there is a .15/page charge for photocopies that must be printed in hard copy.

You are responsible for overdue charges if an item is not returned by the due date and for any repair or replacement charges if an item is damaged or lost while checked out to you. Replacement costs for damaged or lost items are set by the owning library and may be significant.

Any other charges, such as for return postage or for a loan fee charged by a lender, are optional and must be authorized by you when you submit a request.

Where do I return materials?
All interlibrary loan items must be returned to a TCPL location. Please leave the white interlibrary loan label attached to the front cover. Do not put interlibrary loan materials in a book drop.

Are there any restrictions?
Lending libraries determine any conditions regarding the use of their materials and sometimes will lend items with conditions such as "No Renewals," "No Photocopying," or "In-Library Use Only." If you are unable to use a requested item in the library, be sure to let us know when you submit your request. However, please be aware that sometimes libraries will only lend old, fragile, reference or genealogical works for in-library use.

Interlibrary loan service will be limited or suspended for people who repeatedly fail to pick up requested interlibrary loan materials, who do not return materials by the due date or who damage or deface materials.

What is the difference between interlibrary loan and Virtual Catalog requests?
Interlibrary loan requests are processed by the library's interlibrary loan staff according to our Interlibrary Loan Policy and the Massachusetts Library System interlibrary loan guidelines. Interlibrary loan is only available for materials not owned by any OCLN library. Materials may be borrowed from other Massachusetts libraries or from out-of-state libraries. Loan policies, including renewals, are determined by each owning library. Interlibrary loan service is funded by the Massachusetts Library System.

Virtual Catalog requests are handled by the Massachusetts Virtual Catalog system according to the borrowing and lending policies and practices agreed upon by participating libraries. The Virtual Catalog only accepts requests for available materials not owned by or temporarily unavailable at any OCLN library. Virtual Catalog requests are only sent to participating Massachusetts libraries. For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions About the Virtual Catalog. "Unfillable" Virtual Catalog requests for items not owned by any OCLN library may be requested via interlibrary loan.


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