ILL in the Real World

Photo: crop of Aranami, 2014, accessed at, CC2.0 (some rights reserved)

When we told you about the awesome alumni resources that you will still have access to after you leave CUNY, you might have been saddened to learn that one thing we can’t continue to do for you is interlibrary loan. ILL is library resource magic, and it’s probably been an important part of your CUNY research experience.

Remember, though, those books that appear at the circulation desk come from somewhere; other libraries don’t just fill ILL requests, they can make them as well. Even though you won’t have CUNY’s top-notch ILL staff, there is ILL in the rest of the world, too.

You may be going on to another academic institution, with access to another great library. But even if you aren’t, you can still find a library near you that can meet your information resource needs. Most public libraries participate in ILL programs, so wherever you end up living or working, be sure to get a local public library card.

If you’ll be here in NYC, you’ll be able to enjoy NYPL’s excellent ILL program. Its borrowing policies aren’t quite as generous as CUNY’s—the borrowing period is only three weeks, for instance, and you can only have three active requests at a time—but there is no cost to you. Queens and Brooklyn will provide ILL services, too, also at no cost.

Not remaining in New York? There’s ILL at the Los Angeles Public Library (though it costs $10 per loan, plus whatever the source library charges, if anything), the Seattle Public Library ($5), and the Chicago or Denver public libraries (free, except for the source library’s fee). There’s even ILL at the Margaret S. Sherry Memorial Library in Biloxi, Mississippi, and the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau, Wisconsin. The consortium of libraries you can draw from might not be as big; the focus of the collections might not be as academic; but wherever you are, you’ll be more connected than you think.

Happy borrowing!

About the Author

Katherine Pradt is the Adjunct Reference and Digital Outreach Librarian at the Graduate Center.