Michigan State University

Starting on Thursday, December 23, 2021, MeLCat Borrowing and Lending will be suspended while the MSU Libraries undergoes a significant software transition.

MSU students, staff, and faculty can continue to utilize interlibrary loan by placing requests through the MSU Libraries Interlibrary Services department. Community patrons will not be able to use MeLCat through the MSU Libraries during this time, but they can continue to do so using their local public library.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

While we are presenting the most common questions, not every question can be answered in an FAQ. If you do not see the answer to your question, please contact us using the information in the left-hand column.

Who can use Interlibrary Services (ILS)?

InterLibrary Services are available for:

  • All MSU affiliates, including MSU retired faculty.
  • Community Borrowers may use the MeLCat service only.
  • An MSU faculty member may request that a research assistant be authorized to submit ILS requests in his/her name via Faculty Authorization account. This policy may be viewed on the Faculty Authorization page.
  • Law Library Patrons, please use the MSU Law Library : ILL Service.

How much do the services cost?

All of the services are free of charge to patrons. The MSU Libraries subsidizes any charges that may apply.

What materials can and cannot be obtained through ILS?

From the holdings of partner libraries, ILS often can obtain books, articles, book chapters, microfilm/microfiche, dissertations, audiovisual material and musical scores needed for personal study and research. Some materials simply are not available from other libraries or from publishers, including some out of print materials, rare and fragile pieces, e-only resources, unique archival items, or materials for which costs become prohibitive.

Can I request textbooks through ILS?

You may request textbooks through ILS, however, many libraries do not collect textbooks, and many do not lend them so it is very difficult to obtain these titles. Please be aware that if a textbook is found for you, the loan period may be too short to make this a viable option in lieu of purchase.

Can I request dissertations through ILS?

You can request dissertations held by other libraries through Interlibrary Loan. Many dissertations are available online, so check these resources before you place your request.

  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses provides free access to American dissertations published after 1997, and contains abstracts for many dissertations published since 1980.
  • EthOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) provides digital access to dissertations from UK universities. Oxford and Cambridge universities do not participate in this service. Free login and registration is required to search the site.
  • Thesis Canada Portal contains abstracts of Canadian theses since 1965; full text versions are available from 1998-2002.

Is there a limit on how much and what I can request?

  • Only one request per order form will be accepted.
  • The Library reserves the right to limit the number of requests processed to 10 per week to ensure that requests from other users can be processed in a timely manner.
  • Copyright guidelines prohibit the Library from scanning or obtaining more than one article from the same issue of a journal or more than one chapter from a single book for a single patron.

How long will it take to receive my ILS item?

Articles and book chapters are typically delivered electronically in 2 business days. Physical items that require travel time are typically delivered in 3 to 14 plus business days – for example, UBorrow items may come in 3-5 business days, MeLCat items may take between 1-2 weeks. Materials that are rarer may take longer to be located and borrowed.

How will I receive my article or chapter request?

Articles/chapters will be delivered electronically to your ILLiad account, typically as a PDF file. You will receive an email when the article is ready for viewing. Your request will remain on your account for a period of 21 days. In the event that you accidentally delete an article from your account, email us at ill@lib.msu.edu to see if we can reset it.

Once my ILS item arrives, where do I pick it up?

You will receive an email when your item has arrived and is ready for pickup. You may retrieve it at the Main Library Circulation desk, or at a branch library if that is your designated pickup location in ILLiad. Faculty and staff members may request office delivery of ILS material via campus mail to their on-campus office. All materials sent to branches or office locations will be checked out to you before they are sent for pick-up. Faculty/staff and students who live off campus may also use our distance delivery services to ship your items via UPS to your home. Please email us if you would like an item sent using office or distance delivery.

What is my ILS item due date?

ILS items can have different due dates, and these may be different from your MSU items, so check the book wrap for the date. Items returned without their book wrap may cause delays to their check in. Patrons are responsible for any fines that may result due to this delay.

How do I renew an ILS item?

Some items are eligible for renewal. For these items a renewal option will appear on the request in your ILLiad account (under 'Checked Out Items') 10 days before the due date. Overdue items are not eligible for renewal. Only one renewal per item is permitted.

Renewals are not automatically granted.  Interlibrary Services staff will review and send your request to the lending library.  You will be notified if the renewal is successful or denied.


Material borrowed through MeLCat may be eligible for a 3 week renewal, which can be requested separately through your library account.

Where do I return an ILS item?

ILS borrowed items may be returned to any MSU Library drop box (including those at branches) unless the item wrap says otherwise. Those items should be returned directly to a staff member at any MSU Library Circulation desk (including those at branches). Faculty/staff may use campus mail to return items to the Main Library. Distance patrons please refer to 'Returning Items' on the distance delivery services web page.

What happens if I return an item late or lose/damage it?

Overdue fees are $2.00 per day per item. Extremely overdue items, damaged or lost material will result in a replacement charge on your account. The minimum charge is $100 and may be more if the replacement cost is higher. Any replacement charge will result in a block on your account. Holds are placed on MSU student enrollment, registration, diplomas, and transcripts at the same time.

Why is an ILS item on my account even though I have not picked it up?

If you request an item be delivered to a branch library, on-campus office or if you are a distance user (>50 miles from East Lansing), borrowed materials are checked out to your account before being sent to the branch or your delivery destination and will remain on your account until the item is returned and received by the Library.

What is ILLiad?

ILLiad is a software system that MSU Libraries uses to manage your document delivery and interlibrary loan requests. ILLiad is your one-stop shop to create and monitor requests without staff assistance.

What is UBorrow?

UBorrow is an interlibrary loan system developed and maintained by the Big Ten Academic Alliance to better facilitate and expedite the sharing of library materials among universities. Requests placed and fulfilled through UBorrow will have a 16-week loan period (a full semester). Requested items typically arrive in 3-5 business days.

What is MeLCat?

The Michigan eLibrary Catalog (MeLCat) is an interlibrary loan system utilized by the state of Michigan. It is comprised of over 400 Michigan libraries, mostly public libraries, and contains over 1 million resources to choose from. Requested items typically arrive in 1-2 weeks.

What is WorldCat?

WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library holdings information. We utilize WorldCat to connect with libraries across the globe. You can use WorldCat to search for and request rare or specialized content.