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Interlibrary Loan: ILL Resources

A guide to resource sharing activities and services at MLS and beyond.

Interlibrary Loan Resources

General MA Resources

Clio Resources

Clio requesting site
Clio updating site
Contact MLS ILL Team:

Boston Public Library - Document Delivery

Libraries and individuals can now place requests through the BPL's ILLiad site:

Obtain a BPL eCard
Log into ILLiad
FAQ about BPL ILLiad

Other Mass Resources (not run by MLS, except for MassCat)

CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing)
     CLAMS OverDrive
C/W MARS (Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing, Inc.)
     C/W MARS OverDrive
FLO (Fenway Library Organization)
MBLN (Metro Boston Library Network)
MLN (Minuteman Library Network)
     Minuteman OverDrive
MVLC (Merrimack Valley Library Consortium)
     MVLC OverDrive
NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange)
     NOBLE OverDrive
OCLN (Old Colony Library Network)
     OCLN OverDrive
SAILS (Southeastern Automated Integrated Library Services)
     SAILS OverDrive

Commonwealth Catalog, and the ComCat Help Desk (run by FLO)

Misc. ILL Resources

American Library Association Guide to Copyright
Hoopla (movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks; available at many MA libraries)
Kanopy (streaming video; available at many MA  libraries)
Ocean State Libraries (Rhode Island) catalog (remember, we can borrow from RI on Delivery!)


Foreign Language Materials

There are over 328 million people in the United States. A recent American Community Survey found that over 350 languages are spoken by that population. In Massachusetts, residents report speaking 142 languages other than English. This section will be an on-going exploration of likely resources for various languages that are the most popular in MA:

Spanish (431,000 speakers): take a peek at an interesting blog post about collection development for Spanish language collections

Portuguese (183,000)

Chinese (90,000)

French (75,000)

Italian (48,000)

Russian (39,000)

Vietnamese (35,000)

Greek (25,000)

Arabic (24,000)

Polish (24,000)

Cambodian (22,000)

German (18,000)

Archival, Genealogical, Digital Resources

Archives of American Art (Smithsonian)

The Archives of American Art specializes in the visual arts of the United States, and its holdings include manuscripts, letters, diaries, scrapbooks, albums, films, oral histories, and more. They have discontinued lending microfilm reels over Interlibrary Loan, and have replaced the service with Digitization on Demand, a fee-based service. Requests for digitization can be placed by individual patrons, or by your library. More information on Digitization on Demand can be found here and AAA's updated ILL policy can be found here. MLS will no longer be able to act as an intermediary for requests for items held by the Archives of American Art. 

Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library's history and genealogy collections are unique and vast. Many of them are also uncataloged. If you are unable to find family or town histories on, please let us know, and we can approach the BPL. They have items about nearly every place in Massachusetts, and much of New England, including "more than 30,000 wide-ranging materials from the 17th–21st centuries." There is more information here. Also take a peek at newspapers at the BPL.

Canadian Libraries $

Requesting from Canadian libraries takes a few steps, but it is not impossible. Remember that often ILL fees apply, and postage has recently gone up enormously (there have also been a number of Canadian postal strikes). One Canadian catalog is called Voilà; an older one is Amicus (log-in needed); and Libraries and Archives Canada's catalog is Aurora. We use the Scholars Portal RACER to place requests.

Chronicling America (newspapers; Library of Congress)

Chronicling America is a fascinating site that includes digitized newspapers from 1690 to today. Try the Advanced Search feature for better results, but beware - it's easy to lose yourself in the past as you search! The U.S. Newspaper Directory is also helpful, for there you can find which libraries own newspapers from specific years.

Digital Commonwealth

The Digital Commonwealth is an organization serving cultural institutions in Massachusetts, helping them digitize their collections and put them online. Here you can find documents, images, and sound recordings, mostly about Massachusetts.The advanced search page allows you to narrow your search by year, format, and institution - very helpful! Also see the Digitization page at the MBLC's website.

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

The Digital Public Library of America is a vast collection of free materials that have been digitized by cultural organizations across the United States. It's a wonderful resource for genealogists, researchers, and students. It's holdings include those of the Digital Commonwealth (see above). Other partners are listed here. DPLA has curated several very interesting exhibitions that help give patrons a taste of what they have to offer. Other digital collections in New England include: Connecticut Digital ArchiveDigital Maine; Digital Vermont; and the New Hampshire State Library Digital Document Depository.

Family Search

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church) is responsible for the enormous holdings found at Family Search. This is a free service - all you need to do is sign up for an account. MLS is no longer able to request microfilm reels from the Family History Library, but a great many reels have been digitized, and can be accessed at Family History Centers. Please note that the Family History Library does not circulate physical items such as books.

Google Books

Don't forget to try Google itself to track down more information about ILL items. And Google Advanced Search often gives you even better results.. Google Books is also a great site, showing snippets of information from millions of items. Especially useful are citations and references, often found at the end of a digitized book, giving specific information necessary for ILL requests.


The HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital repository that works with Google Books and the Internet Archive. It provides full-text access to items in the public domain, and allows you to search materials that are still under copyright, allowing researches to ascertain whether an item is worth exploring further.

International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) / Petrucci Music Library

IMSLP has a large collection of public domain musical scores and recordings, searchable by composer name, genre, time period, etc. As of December 2023 they had over 740,000 scores in the collection. 

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has the lofty goal of providing "universal access to all knowledge." Use their Wayback Machine to see earlier incarnations of websites, or scroll down to search their immense holdings. Full-text access to many items in the public domain (i.e., mainly items published before 1927). Good for: pre-1927 works of all kinds; some genealogical materials; music and audio; quite a few moving images / videos.

  • The Open Library (part of The Internet Archive)
    • The Open Library consists of digitized books that can be borrowed just as patrons would borrow print items - one user per item at a time. Thus, rare books that are still under copyright can be digitized and made available to one user at a time (e.g., Margin of safety). Sign up for the Open Library here.

Lewiston Public Library (Maine)

If you're looking for novels in French, Lewiston Public Library up in Maine has an interesting collection. The MLS ILL Team can email the librarian in Lewiston to arrange a special loan.

Library of Congress - Collection "National Screening Room"

The LoC's National Screening Room is a collection of films (336 and counting), many of them of local or historical interest. A good resource for researchers, historians, genealogists, etc.

National Library of Medicine (NLM) $

The National Library of Medicine is a good source for health materials that prove unavailable through the usual routes. MLS has an ILL account with the NLM, and we are able to send requests, using a special form (see the NLM ILL site for more info, ILL Team; access their portal here). You can request not only books and reels of microfilm, but audio-visual items as well. There is a fee of $12 per item; invoices are sent quarterly.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission and Texas State Historical Association (some $)

Quite often we're asked for items held by the Texas State Library and Archives. They do lend, but only after we negotiate a tangle of different depositories and archives. If an item is held by the Library or Archives, we can use their request form (ILL Team - on the shared drive). Their Advanced Search page is here. They have also sent along a list of their depositories; these are especially useful if you wish to find who holds records for specific counties. Please visit the page, then search for the name of the desired county. Please note that many of these lenders charge for ILL (academic libraries).

Other Considerations - Formats, Regions, Editions, etc.

DVD Regions

  • Region 1: will only operate in players in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the US territories
  • Region 2: Europe (but not Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus), Egypt, Greenland, Japan, Lesotho [in Southern Africa], the Middle East, South Africa, and Swaziland
  • Region 3: Southeastern Asia (i.e., Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan)
  • Region 4: Australia, Latin America
  • Region 5: Africa, Russia, and non-southeastern Asia
  • Region 6: China
  • Region 0: not coded; should play in regions 1 - 6, but there's no guarantee
  • Region 7: may be used in the future; now only used by the Motion Picture Association of America and in Asia for media copies (pre-releases)
  • Region 8: used in airlines and cruise ships

DVD Encoding

DVDs are usually encoded as either NTSC (which stands for National Television Systems Committee) or PAL (Phase Altering Line). There is also SECAM (Système Electronique Couleur avec Mémoire).

  • NTSC is the standard in North America;
  • PAL DVDs are found in Australia, China, India, some countries in South America, and Western Europe;
  • The countries using SECAM are in parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, France, and Russia.

    At MLS we often find foreign films are only available in PAL encoding. Some computers (especially Macs) can switch back and forth between NTSC and PAL a limited number of times. There are also some DVD players that can operate both kinds of discs. In the standard will often be listed under Edition / Format.

IFM, and IFLA Vouchers

The easiest way to pay for ILL transactions is by using OCLC's Interlibrary Loan Fee Management (IFM) system. Please let us know the maximum cost (maxcost) you are willing to pay for a loan, and we'll enter the amount into the request before sending. If a lender does levy fees, they will charge MLS, and we will pay the invoice. We then ask you (or your patron) to reimburse us by check. If you wish to borrow from libraries abroad, we often need to use IFLA vouchers. Please contact us for more information about this option.