Interlibrary Loans

While the SAILS system will usually have the materials you are looking for, sometimes you may want to borrow a material from outside the system. This service is called Interlibrary Loan. We can borrow through traditional ILL channels or the Commonwealth Catalog.  The first stop is the eCatalog, then the Commonwealth Catalog, and then have the Reference Librarian request something as Interlibrary Loan.

Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) is software that allows us to search the catalogs of Boston Public, MetroWest, CLAMS, Minuteman and several other Massachusetts library consortium at the same time.  The usual ILL restrictions apply, so read the General Information below.  Access is through the eCatalog so that you will search our system first. The link is near the bottom of the Home page of the eCatalog.

General Information on Interlibrary Loans

  • The time it takes depends on the availability and location of the materials. Allow at least 2 weeks, but it can take longer.
  • Photocopy requests of articles generally take a week, but can take longer. Not part of Commonwealth Catalog.
  • Videos and sound recordings are more difficult to borrow than books.
  • Copyright laws apply for magazine articles which will limit the number of articles from any particular journal.
  • Some materials can only be used in the library (such as microfilm or rare books.)
  • New books, multiple copies of a title, textbooks, tests, entire issues of magazines, and materials owned by our system are usually not available for interlibrary loan.
  • There is a limit of 5 active requests any one patron may have at a time. Active includes pending, shipped and received.

How to order

Before you place a request, please check the SAILS catalog to see if it is in the system. Check the databases (or request that we do) before asking for a periodical article.  We need to know the following information in order to help you:

  • Your name, phone number, email address and library card number
  • The title of the item (or you can request a subject search of up to five books on the subject)
  • If an article: title of article and volume/issue information
  • Author
  • Date no longer needed (so we can cancel if it doesn't come in right away)
  • The maximum amount you would be willing to pay if the only lending libraries are ones that charge
  • You may fill out the form at the Circulation Desk or email us the information

Your Responsibilities

  • Return materials on time. Ill items cannot be renewed. Only the lending library can authorize extensions.
  • If you fail to return materials on time, you will be jeopardizing your chances of using this service in the future.
  • Materials must be returned to the SAILS library from which you borrowed the material.