Interlibrary Loans


InterLibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services for Faculty

Sawyer Library happily provides document delivery (ILL) services to obtain materials it does not already own or have direct access to.

A Note on Local Library Resources

Boston is an information-rich city with many academic libraries accessible to faculty members and within walking distance from the subway system.

If the materials being sought are available from these libraries, the faculty member might want to visit these locations in person to use the collections directly. This approach is particularly useful if time is important in obtaining needed materials. Sawyer Library's reference librarians will help identify which library has the materials the requester is seeking. Or, to check local holdings for yourself, you may use our WorldCat. Most local libraries are open access and have photocopying facilities that the general public can use to copy periodical articles.

Also, please do not assume that Suffolk does not own access to a journal just because the full-text does not link from a particular database. Always check the eJournal Locator and the library catalog before visiting another library or ordering an article through ILL.

InterLibrary Loan

Library staff makes all reasonable accommodations to further faculty research. ILL requests are accepted and processed within the constraints of available staff resources. We ask that you not submit ILL requests for materials that we own and which are currently available for use (including titles we might own in eBook format). If you need assistance in verifying what is available and what is not, please consult a Reference Librarian.

Turnaround Time

Interlibrary loan requesters must allow at least two weeks for materials to arrive. In many cases, journal articles are received much more quickly. And in some rare cases materials may not be available for loan or photocopying or provisions of the copyright law may restrict the library from requesting materials.

Number of Requests

Due to limited staff resources, request processing may be limited to two per day, per individual user. (That is, we impose no limit on the number of requests you can submit. We only warn that we may not be able to process all requests immediately).

Receipt and Return of Materials

Faculty will be notified by phone or e-mail when their materials arrive. If a faculty member prefers, the Library will place the non-returnable material (such as articles) directly into campus mail when received. In addition, some articles are received electronically and may be converted to PDFs and emailed. Please indicate on your ILL form, if you prefer this option, when available. To prevent loss or damage, returnable items (such as books) must be picked up at, and returned to, the Reference Desk of Sawyer Library.

Please note that the Library cannot fill ILL requests for materials that are already available in the Sawyer, Suffolk Law, or NESADSU libraries in print, microform, or electronic formats. Because ILL is intended for personal use and because another library's materials should not be put at undue risk, returnable materials acquired through ILL cannot be placed on Reserve for class use. In addition, some materials may be limited to use within the library by the lending institution. If there is a photocopying restriction or other condition established by the lender, it must be honored.

Books are checked out to the requester for the loan period determined by the lending library. Renewals are at the discretion of the lending library. Anyone who borrows a book is responsible for any charges for late, lost or damaged materials. When materials are returned late, or lost, it jeopardizes not only the requester's borrowing privileges but also the borrowing privileges of the Sawyer Library. Photocopies or faxes that are not picked up will be discarded 30 days after receipt.

Anyone who consistently abuses interlibrary loan borrowing privileges will be denied the use of the service.

InterLibrary Loan Request Forms

Faculty may fill out paper forms, available at the Reference Desk, or they may choose to use web-based ILL forms to request journal articles and/or books.

If you have any questions about our ILL services or how to verify or locate materials, please contact a Reference Librarian at 617-573-8532 or email us at In addition, our ILL assistant may be contacted directly at 617-573-8427 or via email at

Our General ILL Philosophy

Sawyer Library (SUF) is committed to reciprocal free lending. Our basic policy is "We don't charge you, if you don't charge us." Towards that end, we belong to LVIS, are Nelinet Co-Signers (NO$$), and also belong to the Fenway Library Organization (FLO) and the Boston Region (BRLS) truck route.

Obviously, for free lending to be truly reciprocal, library holdings must be easily identifiable. Ours are, through OCLC's WorldCat. (Serials holdings may be displayed through NEUL and NO$$ in WorldCat). In addition, a library may explore exactly where a material is held (in our six SUF affiliate libraries), and whether the material is currently available, by checking our online catalog (OPAC).

Suffolk Collections, and What We Do and Don't Loan

When checking the OPAC, please be aware of the following: Locations that include the word "Law" are at the Suffolk University Law Library (WorldCat: SLL). This is a separate library, which maintains their own, autonomous ILL office. You may reach Law Library ILL staff at (617) 305-1614. Law's fax is (617) 723-3164. Or check their Policies Directory profile in WorldCat.

SUF includes materials in 3 different libraries. We cannot loan materials located in Madrid or Cape Cod Community College. We also do not loan materials designated as Reserves, Reference, Rare, Archives, eBook, Periodical, or Microtext.

We will cheerfully loan any circulating material in Sawyer Library. And we will provide articles (which can be faxed at no additional cost) from any journal that we hold in periodical or microfilm/fiche format. Because of our license agreements with our vendors, we cannot provide articles that are held ONLY on one of our full text databases.

OCLC and IFM Preferred

We greatly prefer that ILL requests come to us through the Resource Sharing subsystem (WRS) of WorldCat. However, we are willing to accept ILL requests on ALA form, or fax equivalent, if a library needs this option.

We prefer NOT to invoice, so if we are loaning to a library we would charge (that is, a library that would charge us, or a corporate lender incapable of free reciprocal lending, with no holdings in WorldCat), we greatly prefer charging using the IFM system. We charge what you charge, or $15-$20 for a non-supplier using WorldCat, IFM, and standard delivery options.

Special Policy for Non-OCLC/IFM Corporate Borrowers

For Corporate Non-Suppliers (usually local law firms) requesting a "hand-carry" pick-up by messenger, rush fax, phone requests, or other special, labor-intensive services, previous abuses have forced us to institute a special policy:

Sawyer Library will gladly provide Document Delivery Services to local corporate libraries in accordance with the following guidelines:

Materials at our Madrid and Cape Cod campuses are not available for loan.

A Fee of $20.00 (Payable, at the time of receipt of volume or copy, to Suffolk University) will be charged per item requested. This charge covers:

  • Retrieval of Material
  • Preparation for Mailing or Pick-up by Borrower's Designate
  • Free Fax or 1st class shipment of non-returnables (articles)
  • Free 1st class/priority shipment of returnable (book)
  • Other shipment options (FedEx, etc.) will only be offered if Borrower provides their own account number.

Most Corporate Borrowers prefer to send a messenger to pick up their loan. We are happy to accommodate this preference. All materials awaiting pick-up will be at the Reference Desk of SAWYER Library, which is located on the second floor of our 73 Tremont Street Building. If you provide the required contact phone number or email address, we will notify you as soon as the material is ready to go.

An ALA-Equivalent Request Form must be FAXED to 617-573-8756 for every requested item.

Although Sawyer Library Staff attempts quick turnaround (almost always the same day), because of limited staff, we may not be able to provide same-day service. We will let you know, if there is an expected delay.

All ALA-Equivalent forms MUST contain the name and phone number of the Librarian/Information Specialist responsible for loan and billing matters.

For returnables, our loan period is 28 days. If not needed by a Suffolk user, the book may be renewed for another 28 days. Only one renewal per loan. For renewal, the borrowing library must send a follow-up email (to or a fax request PRIOR to the book's original due date.

Overdue items will jeopardize a Borrower's privileges. And lost or damaged materials will be billed for their full value plus a $25.00 processing fee.

Returned materials may be dropped off at the REFERENCE DESK of Sawyer Library (73 Tremont) or they may be shipped to our mailing address: ILL/Sawyer Library/Suffolk University/8 Ashburton Place/Boston, MA 02108-2770.

Please do NOT return ILL returns to the Circulation Desk at Sawyer Library, and NEVER return Sawyer Library materials to the Suffolk LAW LIBRARY. Thank you!