Interlibrary Loan FAQs

Interlibrary Loan Services (ILL) assist Mason students, faculty and staff in obtaining needed research and teaching resources not available from the University Libraries or the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) libraries.

How does ILL work?  |  What materials can I request?  |  Request & Access Limitations  |  Fines & Fees  |  Contact the ILL Office

ILL Basics

Loan Periods

Items borrowed on Interlibrary Loan are subject to the loan policies of the lending library. Most lending libraries loan their items for 4-8 weeks; an item must be used by its due date. Faculty and graduate students do not receive longer loan periods for Interlibrary Loan items.


Renewing an Interlibrary Loan item is at the discretion of the lending library.  If you have a question about renewals, contact the Mason Libraries Interlibrary Loan office.  If you expect you will need the borrowed item longer, you should purchase the item or contact your Subject Librarian and suggest Mason Libraries purchase a copy.


Requesting textbooks through Interlibrary Loan is not a recommended option. It can be difficult to find a library which owns or will lend a specific textbook; it is unlikely that a textbook request will be filled. If Interlibrary Loan succeeds in borrowing the textbook, you will not be able to keep it for the entire semester. Most lending libraries loan items for 4-8 weeks with no renewals. See tips for Finding Textbooks

How does ILL work?

How do I submit an ILL request?

Before submitting an ILL request, check the University Libraries' Catalog to be sure what you need is not available locally or through the local WRLC network. Requests may be submitted 24 hours a day through ILLiad. ILLiad is used to submit requests, check the status of requests, access electronically delivered articles, and request renewals (when allowed). View the Request Interlibrary Loan @Mason tutorial to learn more.

University Libraries' ILL services are available to current George Mason University faculty, staff and students in good standing.

Exception: Law students, faculty and staff must use the ILL services provided by the Law Library.

What materials can I request?

What may I request through Interlibrary Loan?

Books and journal articles not owned by the University Libraries' might be available through Interlibrary Loan. Library items listed as missing, lost, checked out, or overdue may be requested through ILL. Occasionally, libraries may lend microforms, musical scores, theses/dissertations, and media/audiovisual materials.

What cannot be requested through Interlibrary Loan?

Materials that other libraries usually do not lend include:

  • High-demand items (e.g. textbooks, newly published items, and best sellers).
  • Non-circulating items (e.g. reference materials).
  • Computer software.
  • Genealogical research materials.
  • Entire volumes or issues of journals.
  • Newspapers in print format.
  • Maps.
  • Rare books or items (e.g. Special Collections materials).
  • Dissertations, theses, original manuscripts and unpublished works.

If you are having difficulty locating resources, ask a librarian for assistance. ILL staff will try to help you identify sources/options for items that cannot be borrowed, when possible. All ILL requests are evaluated for compliance with current copyright law, and in certain cases requests may be denied.

How long does it take to receive requested items?

It takes about 7 days to receive books from other libraries after requests are made. Articles are usually delivered electronically in 5 days. Delivery times vary depending on the time of year or type of request. Requests for popular, rare or multimedia items may take much longer to obtain.

To ensure the fastest delivery of article requests, articles are usually delivered online to your ILLiad account.

Where do I pick up and return materials?

Pick up your ILL materials at the library location's Service Desk you specified in your ILLiad account user information. Locations include the Mason Square Library, Fenwick Library (Fairfax Campus), and Mercer Library (Science and Technology Campus).

Return ILL items to the Service Desk at any of the University Library locations in Mason Square, Fairfax or the Science and Technology Campus. You are responsible for any ILL item until it is checked in by a University Libraries staff member.

Request & Access Limitations

How many requests may I make?

Please limit your requests to 10 per day. The ILL office reserves the right to establish priorities of service if the number of requests received from a single patron might adversely affect the service offered to others.

How often may I borrow the same item?

Usually, we can only borrow an item once for you.

How long can I keep an item? Are there restrictions on how long I can use materials?

The lending library sets the due dates, not the University Libraries regardless of your status. You are responsible for the safe return of any ILL item that you borrow by its due date. Items borrowed through ILL may be recalled by the lending library at any time.  In general, most ILL loans are for 4 weeks. Most Virginia academic libraries offer an 8-week loan period, but they will not allow renewals.

Restrictions may be placed on how you may use the item. These can include "in-library use only" or "no photocopying."

Can I renew an item?

Renewals are completely at the discretion of the lending library. Renewal requests must be made before the item's original due date.

To find out if you can renew an item, check the slip on your ILL item for the words "Renewals Allowed?" to see if the item is renewable. If your item is renewable you should login to your ILLiad account to submit a renewal request. On the left-hand side of the screen, underneath the "Request Summary" heading, click the "Checked Out Items" link. On the next page, select the item you wish to renew by clicking the Transaction Number, and then click "Renew This Request" at the top of the screen.  As soon as the lending library responds to your request, you will receive an email notification. If you do not receive an email within 3 days, please contact the InterLibrary Loan Office at (703) 993-2228.

Fines & Fees

How much does ILL cost?

ILL requests are usually free to the user because the University Libraries absorb the fees charged for these services. A completed Interlibrary Loan request costs the University Libraries on average $28, not including additional lending fees charged by the lending libraries (often $15-$20 per request). Although the University Libraries will pay the lending fees, you are responsible for any fines or fees charged by the lending library for late, damaged, or lost items.

Although the University Libraries will pay the lending fees, you are responsible for any fines or fees charged by the lending library for late, damaged, or lost items.

What fees or fines might I have to pay?

You are responsible for any overdue fines or late fees charged by the lending library. If you lose or damage an item, you are responsible for replacement and/or repair costs, including any associated processing fees and surcharges assessed by the lending library.

I lost the book I borrowed through ILL. What should I do?

If you lost or damaged an ILL item, contact the ILL Office at (703) 993-2228 or immediately.

What happens if I don't return my items on time?

All users will receive an email from the ILL Office when their due date is approaching. If you keep your ILL item 15 days or more past the due date, your ILLiad account will be blocked and you will be unable to make more requests. If an item is severely overdue, you will be billed for replacement costs.

Students who keep an item more than 4 weeks past its due date will have their library privileges suspended. PatriotWeb student accounts will be blocked for students with ILL items more than 5 weeks overdue. Repeated failures to return books borrowed through ILL may result in removal of all library lending privileges.

Contact the ILL Office

The ILL Office is located in Fenwick Library; ask for us at the Information Services Desk. You can also reach us by:

phone: (703) 993-2228
fax: (703) 993-2255

Mailing Address
InterLibrary Loan
George Mason University Libraries
4400 University Drive, MS 2FL
Fairfax, VA 22030