San Francisco Public Library

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Frequently Asked Questions

Before applying for an Interlibrary Loan Book Request, you may wish to try Link+ first.

Link+ books usually arrive in 5 days, while an ILL book may take as long as 2 to 4 weeks to arrive.

What is Link +?

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and how does it work?
Interlibrary Loan is a network of various libraries and institutions in North America that agree to loan items to one another. If the San Francisco Public Library System does not have a book or periodical that you are seeking, we will ask others on the network to send a copy to us so that we may in turn loan it to you.
How is an ILL different from a request?
A request is placed on an item owned by the San Francisco Public Library. An ILL is a request placed to other libraries for items not owned by SFPL.
What do I need to apply for an ILL request?
You must have a valid San Francisco Public Library card, and you must fill out the online ILL application form for the material type you are requesting. Note: The Library will not initiate ILL requests if there are any irregularities on your library account. If you have questions regarding your account, please contact any branch of the San Francisco Public Library.
Why do I need a Library card and a PIN/password before you can process my ILL request?
You need a Library card because ILL is available only to our cardholders, and a PIN/password is necessary for your online security. You may apply for a library card if you do not have one. If you do not have a PIN/password, you can assign one to yourself through the Log In to Your Record link on the Library’s home page. Please contact any SFPL library for more information on library cards and PIN/passwords.
How many ILL requests can I make?
You may have as many as 10 (ten) ILL items to your library account.
Do you charge for an ILL request?
San Francisco Public Library does not charge for ILL requests. However, some lenders may charge a fee which we would pass on to you. You will always be notified of any fees before we request an item that requires fees to be paid by you.
What can I NOT get through ILL?
Items that are owned by the San Francisco Public Library, such as books, music scores, government documents, microfilm, periodicals (such as magazines, journals, newspapers, and newsletters) and electronic resources (such as eBooks, databases, and related items that cannot be physically delivered). This includes Library Use Only (Reference) items, books published in the current calendar year, and audio/visual items (i.e. audio books, compact discs, DVDs, and videotapes). Software and other documents published on computer discs.
What is the ILL renewal policy?
Materials may be non-renewable or Library Use Only. These restrictions are determined by the lending library. Contact the Interlibrary Loan office at (415) 557-4406 to request a renewal. Items that are non renewable will be noted on the information band. Overdue items are not eligible for renewal and must be returned promptly. If you lose an interlibrary loan item, depending on the lending library's policy, you may be fined as much as $250.
How do I contact an ILL staff member?

The Interlibrary Loan department is located on the First Floor of the Main Library. You may call for the department during open hours at (415) 557-4406. There is no ILL staff on Sunday.