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Interlibrary Loan: FAQs

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the service:

What is mediated interlibrary loan?

Mediated interlibrary loan refers to borrowing and lending requests between one library to another facilitated by our Resource Sharing Team on behalf our member libraries. This does not refer to items shared within networks, the Commonwealth Catalog, or Point-to-Point sharing. Requests that cannot be filled through these services can be sent to the Resource Sharing Team, who can borrow materials from anywhere in the US and Canada.

What type of items can be borrowed?

Libraries may request any type of material via interlibrary loan except video games. Be advised that it is difficult to borrow software, entire issues of periodicals, rare or old materials, reference materials, genealogy/family histories, the most recent editions of textbooks, and items in high demand at the lending library (including newly acquired material and bestsellers). Keep in mind that the borrowing library is responsible for the replacement cost for lost or damaged items. For more details about our service, read our ILL Policy.

Are there any limits on requests?

We do not limit the number of requests per library or per individual patron. We do not limit the number of times an item can be requested. Libraries are encouraged to set their own local ILL policies if necessary. 

How do I request journal articles?

The Boston Public Library provides document delivery service for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To request a journal or newspaper article login to BPL's ILLiad service here. For more instructions on making requests, read these instructions.

Do you charge for the service?

Interlibrary loan service is free to all member libraries. (To learn more about MLS membership, click here). If you borrow from a library outside of Delivery, your library is responsible for paying return shipping costs. Additionally, some libraries charge a lending fee to borrow their materials. If we borrow from charging libraries, MLS pays the lending library and will invoice your library for reimbursement. Be sure to specify in your request the maximum amount you or your patron are willing to pay for shipping and fees.

Do you interlibrary loan e-books?

Currently, the MLS mediated interlibrary loan service can only request returnable items. At this time is not possible for us to borrow electronic resources.

Who should I contact with questions about the Commonwealth Catalog?

The Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) is administered jointly by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and Fenway Libraries Online (FLO). If you have questions or need support for a ComCat request, please contact them at, by opening a Help Desk ticket when logged in to your ComCat account or by going to


Questions about making and managing requests:

How do I login to make a request?

To access the New Request form, go to Login in with your library's BPL number (2999...) and the password "ill". For more explanation watch this screencast tutorial.

How do I login to update requests I've received?

To update your active requests, go to Login with your ILL code as both the username and password. For more explanation on how to update ILL requests, view these tutorials

What if I don't know my BPL number or ILL Code?

If you need to find out your BPL number (login ID for ILL and ILLiad requests) or your ILL Code, email the Resource Sharing Team at

What if my contact or library information has changed?

If you need any contact or library information changed in your Clio profile, please contact the Resource Sharing Team at Also contact us if you have any funding or policy changes impacting the maximum shipping and fees your library can pay for ILL requests.

What if I receive an item I don't think I requested?

If this happens, e-mail the Resource Sharing Team. Most of the time it is another library's request that has been shipped incorrectly by the lender. We will log the mistake and tell you where to send the item. We also want to know if the item we ordered does not accurately match the original request.

How do I cancel a request?

Call or email the Resource Sharing Team if you need to cancel a request. Please note if an item has already shipped, it may not be possible to cancel the request. 

What should I do if I accidentally updated a request to Returned?

Call or email the Resource Sharing Team. A status of Returned cannot be undone with OCLC, so we will want to let the owning library know that the request is not really on its way home yet. 


Contact us!

Resource Sharing Team (best method for email)
866-627-7228 select option #4

Laura Bogart, Resource Sharing Assistant x318

Kathryn Bowen, Resource Sharing Assistant x321

Heidi Flynn, Resource Sharing Assistant, x303

Vincent Nguyen, Resource Sharing Assistant x316

Alison DeMers, Resource Sharing Librarian x317

Scott Kehoe, Library Resources Director x308

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