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InterLibrary Loan Borrowing Resumes

Starting Wednesday, April 14, 2021, UMKC library users may resume requesting to borrow books, DVDs, and other physical items through Interlibrary Loan. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, borrowing physical items was temporarily suspended. 

Due to lingering COVID-19 impacts and ongoing US Postal Service delays, you should expect greater inconsistencies in service (we may not be able to get you everything you need, but we will try!) and longer delivery wait times. At this time, interlibrary loan is not a good option if you need a physical item in less than three weeks, but if you are working on a longer-term project, please feel free to submit your requests.

More Details 

Interlibrary loan service is not completely “back to normal.”

  • There are many, many academic libraries that are still not fully up and running as we were pre-COVID, including UMKC Libraries. Some of the biggest academic libraries in the country, including many of the Ivy Leagues, such as Princeton and Harvard, or large state university libraries, such as The Ohio State University, still have all library staff working remotely and are currently not lending items to other libraries. There are still libraries that have completely suspended their ILL service, even for their own library users. This greatly impacts our ability to borrow items for you. We may not be as successful as we have been in the past with being able to provide your requested items. One way you can increase your chances of getting the materials you need is to assess whether or not you need the entire item or if a scan of an article or chapter out of the item would be sufficient for your need. We can, in many cases, obtain a digital scan of a short portion of an item much easier and faster than the entire item through the mail. Ask a librarian to help you find a book or journal's table of contents to assist in requesting a chapter or article.

USPS delivery delays are ongoing, probably for the long term.

  • Though interlibrary loan seems like magic, much of our service depends upon the reliability of the mail. The Postmaster General’s recently announced 10-year plan for the United States Postal Service hinges on changing customer expectations for delivery times and increasing postage rates. Increased postage rates will affect the Libraries’ budget, and the “new normal” of slower delivery times will affect your ability to receive materials in a timely manner. Though we utilize private in-state and interstate library consortium couriers whenever possible, some consortium libraries have reduced their courier service days which also impacts timely delivery. Moving forward, you should generally expect longer wait times for your requested items.

We expect to see improvements through the summer and into the coming academic year.

  • As colleges and universities develop “return to work” plans and as schools resume in-person learning, we expect more academic libraries to restore their interlibrary loan services through the summer. This means more available suppliers, but USPS delays will likely remain. We hope that through the abrupt and upending change brought upon us all, the scholarly community takes another look at modes of disseminating scholarly information, including using Open and Affordable Educational Resources in courses and publishing scholarly works via Open Access. If you would like to talk more about how to integrate one or both of these things into your practice, contact the librarians in our Scholarly Communications department.


Need to know more about using InterLibrary Loan? Read about ways to place requests, delivery estimates, loan times, renewals, and more

Posted: April 14, 2021