Frequently Asked Questions about Fairfax County Public Library's Interlibrary Loan Service

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a cooperative resource sharing service that allows customers to borrow material from other library systems within the United States. This service is used to borrow materials that are not owned by Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL). Please check our catalog at https://fcplcat.fairfaxcounty.gov to make sure we do not own an item before requesting it through ILL.

PLEASE NOTE: All loans are a courtesy of the lending institutions so they determine the availability, due date, lending period, renewal possibility, restrictions on use, loan fees and replacement costs for all material.

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Who is eligible to request an ILL?

Any Fairfax County Public Library cardholder who lives, works, attends school or owns property in Fairfax County and has an active account in good standing (not barred or blocked). Since interlibrary loan (ILL) items are courtesy loans from another institution, a verified, residential address must be provided to check out ILL material.

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Is there a fee for this service?

Fairfax County Public Library does not charge a fee to request interlibrary loans. Sometimes lenders will charge a fee for borrowed materials sent to us, and these charges will be passed on to you. It is very important that what you indicate on the form for maximum fee is accurate since you will be obligated to pay up to that amount once the lender has shipped the item, whether you cancel or do not pick up/use the item. About 95 percent of ILL transactions are free. Customers are liable for all overdue fines or replacement costs ($50-$300+) associated with lost or damaged ILL material.

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How do I create an account in ILLiad and request an ILL?

All interlibrary loan requests are placed through an Internet accessible system called ILLiad. The first time you use ILLiad, you will need to create an account to start making your requests. Go to https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/interlibrary-loans and click on 'First time user of ILLiad'. Please read the information and frequently asked questions and then click on "I agree" to continue. Fill out the form and select "submit." If your notification method is email, a confirmation will be sent to the email address provided when the registration has been approved. If you do not have access to an email and the Internet, please go to the information desk at an FCPL branch for assistance with your request.

PLEASE NOTE: Your ILLiad account is separate from your Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) account.

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Can I use a family member's FCPL card to make an ILL request?

No. Customers must use their own FCPL card to create an ILLiad account and make ILL requests. When the item is available for pickup, family members may pick up the ILL for you but they must have your library card in order to check the item out.

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How old do I have to be to request an ILL?

There is no minimum age requirement. However, the requestor/user of the material must have a valid and active FCPL card. If under 18, an adult cardholder 18 or older must agree to be responsible if charges from the lending library should occur.

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What types of materials can be requested through ILL?

  1. Books older than one year;
  2. Audio-visual materials older than one year;
  3. Microfilm/microfiche (designated delivery location must be one that has a reader: City of Fairfax Regional, Reston Regional or Sherwood Regional);
  4. Photocopies of pages from books (genealogy) or articles from periodicals and newspapers (entire issues may not be borrowed);
  5. Dissertations or theses.

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What types of materials cannot be requested through ILL?

  1. Books newer than one year and older than 100 years;
  2. Audio-visual materials newer than one year;
  3. Bound and unbound issues of periodicals and newspapers;
  4. E-format materials (ebooks, eaudiobooks, internet files).

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How many ILLs can I request at once?

You may have up to three active ILLs at any given time. This limit also applies to requests for microfilm from the Library of Virginia. Active means from the time a request is submitted until the item is checked back in at the ILL office in FCPL Technical Operations.

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How long does it take and how can I check on the status?

The time varies from three to eight weeks for FCPL to receive a borrowed item. If you have a deadline, please fill out the Not Wanted After information on the request form. Some items, such as genealogy resources, may take longer than eight weeks. You will be notified by email or phone when your requested item(s) are ready for pickup. If we are unable to obtain the item for you, a cancellation notice will be sent to you. You can check the status of your request by logging onto your ILLiad account and looking at the last column of the request under "Active Requests." To find out what a status message means, please look under "Status Definitions" on the main menu page.

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What is the loan period and due date?

Loan periods and due dates are set by the lending library. The due date is noted on the wrapper around the book and on your ILLiad account. The sooner you pick up your item when notified, the longer you will have to use it. Overdue fines for ILL materials are $1 per day/per item, with no maximum amount. In rare instances, lenders will recall an item. If that should occur, we will ask for the book to be returned immediately.

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What if I need more time?

If there is a "No Renewals Allowed" notation on the yellow wrapper, you may not request a renewal. If that notation is not on the wrapper, you may request a renewal through ILLiad or a FCPL branch. Renewals are the exception and considered on a case-by-case basis by the lender. There is no guarantee that the lending library will renew even if they do allow them. Renewal requests need to be submitted at least five business days, but not earlier than 15 days, before the due date. Only one renewal request per item is permitted. PLEASE NOTE: Renewal requests will only be processed after the item is picked up at the branch and checked out in the FCPL system.

Directions to start renewal request process: Log on to ILLiad. Under the "Checked Out Items" table, click on the transaction number. If a renewal is allowed, a "Renew Request" will be in red above the transaction information. Click on it once. You will be contacted when the lender has responded. If you do not hear back from the ILL office by 4:00 pm on the date the item is due, then return before closing to avoid a late fee of $1/day.

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Can I request the same title again?

Yes, but not right away. You may request the same title after three months from the time you returned the title previously borrowed. There can only be one re-request of the same title within a year. If an item is not picked up the first time, it may not be re-requested for one year. You may also want to request that FCPL try to purchase the title through Suggest a Title on our catalog page.

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May I cancel an ILL request?

It may be possible to cancel a request by going to your ILLiad account. Click on "Active Requests," then click on the transaction number of the request you would like to cancel. Click "Cancel Request" to cancel. If the "Cancel Request" option is not there, or if you get a message that the item cannot be cancelled, please contact the Interlibrary Loan office at 703-222-3136 or send an email to ill@fairfaxcounty.gov.

If there is a fee associated with the loan and the lender has already shipped the item, you will be responsible for payment of the fee even if you cancel or do not pick up the item.

If a request is cancelled after the material has been sent by a lender, received, processed and sent to the pickup branch, it will be considered a “not picked up” (NPU) item. Please see the question below titled “What if I do not pick up my ILL?” for restrictions that may occur for multiple NPU items.

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Where can ILL materials be picked up and returned?

When you create your ILLiad account, you will select your desired pickup branch location. (The branch information is also indicated in the notification you receive when the item has arrived at the designated branch.)

Interlibrary loan material may be returned to any Fairfax County Public Library branch. Customers are responsible for ILL items until they have been checked in at the circulation desk inside the library. Please note that interlibrary loan items may not be returned in the bookdrop. It is imperative to keep the yellow wrapper on the item so we know it is an ILL; otherwise it may get lost or misplaced, and you will be liable for the replacement costs.

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What if I am late returning an ILL item?

Overdue fines for ILLs are $1 per day/per item, with no maximum amount. If any item is more than five days late, your ILLiad account will be blocked. Once the overdue item is received in the ILL office in Technical Operations, your ILLiad account will be re-activated (unless your FCPL account is barred or blocked for another reason).

NOTE: For customers who have more than three late ILLs, a restriction of "In Library Use Only" will be placed on all interlibrary loans for a period of one year.

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What does "In Library Use" mean?

"In Library Use" means that the ILL material may only be used on library premises during open library hours. This restriction is imposed by the lending library, which may be due to the age, rarity, cost and/or condition of the material. This restriction will be indicated on the notification you receive and on the wrapper around the item. This restriction may also be placed on ILL users who do not return borrowed materials on time. All microfilm are "In Library Use" and may only be viewed at a branch with a reader: City of Fairfax Regional, Reston Regional or Sherwood Regional. The library has digital microfilm readers and there is no charge to save images to your flash drive. From non-digital readers, the cost to print is $0.25 per page.

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What if I do not pick up my ILL?

If you do not pick up an available ILL, it will be noted on your ILLiad account. After three "not picked up" (NPU) ILLs, your interlibrary loan privileges will be suspended for a period of one year. Any items that are not picked up cannot be re-requested for one year.

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What if the ILL material is lost or damaged?

Customers will be billed for lost or damaged materials by the lending library. The replacement costs can range from $50 to $300 or more. We do note the condition of the item when we receive it; please ensure it is returned in the same condition. Customers are responsible for ILL items from the time they are checked out until they have been checked in at the circulation desk. Placing an ILL item in the bookdrop, returns bin or returns counter is not considered checked in. If you have lost or damaged an ILL, please contact Dori Kim in the Interlibrary Loan office at 703-222-3124 or send an email to ill@fairfaxcounty.gov as soon as possible.

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What is electronic delivery?

Most libraries provide photocopies of articles to us in electronic format. Through ILLiad, we are able to offer you the option of electronic delivery of these articles in PDF format. You can read more about electronic delivery on the Electronic Delivery Information page. If you decide not to receive photocopies in electronic format, there will be a print charge of 15¢ per page, which will be charged to your FCPL account.

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Are there copyright restrictions for a photocopy request?

There may be. Copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies of copyrighted materials. Fairfax County Public Library may not be able to fulfill a photocopy request if the library system has exceeded the maximum allowable photocopy requests of a periodical, newspaper, document or book within a calendar year under copyright law.

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Why is my ILLiad account blocked?

This could be for a variety of reasons, such as your FCPL account is barred or blocked, there is an outstanding bill for an ILL, you have more than three "not picked up" ILLs, etc. If you feel that the block of your ILLiad account is in error, please contact the Interlibrary Loan office at 703-222-3136 or send an email to ill@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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What if my library card number changes?

If you receive a new library card number, please register the new card (as a first time user) with the ILLiad system. Then email ill@fairfaxcounty.gov with your new and old (if available) library card numbers so your accounts can be merged. ILLiad accounts are merged in order to maintain a history of all prior requests from the old card number.

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What if I forget my password?

In the event that you forget your password, please use the "Forgot Password" option on the main ILLiad webpage to request a password reset. An email will be sent to the email address associated with your ILLiad account so you may select a new password. If you do not have an email address indicated in ILLiad, please call the Interlibrary Loan office at 703-222-3136 to have your password reset.

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Who do I contact if I have problems with or questions about ILLiad?

Contact the Interlibrary Loan office at 703-222-3136 or send an email to ill@fairfaxcounty.gov. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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