Library

Interlibrary Loan / MeLCat

Can’t find what you need in our library?

When the resources of the Alma College Library are not sufficient, Alma College students, faculty, administrators, and staff may borrow materials from other libraries and institutions through Interlibrary Loan and MeLCat, at no cost. Millions of specialized books and other materials are available from thousands of libraries throughout Michigan, the United States, and many other countries.  Our Interlibrary Loan Assistant, Susan Cross, is available to answer questions and receive your requests. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Interlibrary Loan & MeLCat

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a mediated resource-sharing system among libraries worldwide. Items unavailable through Alma College Library may be obtained through this free service. If you need to borrow a periodical article, Interlibrary Loan is your best resource.

What is MeLCat?

MeLCat is the state of Michigan’s virtual library catalog. Many Michigan libraries have pooled their catalogs to create a statewide system where users of one library can request and borrow items from another. Items unavailable through Alma College Library may be obtained through this service.  At present, periodical articles may not be borrowed through MeLCat, so you’ll want to use it only for books, videos and compact discs.

How do I request Interlibrary Loan materials?

You can submit an Interlibrary Loan request several ways:
1. An email to Susan Cross (cross@alma.edu) is quickest and easiest. Please supply as much information about the source as you can, and/or provide a link to a website with the relevant information.
2. A web form is available here.
3. A paper form is available at the Main Desk, which you can fill out, or to which you can attach a list of requested items.
4.  Several of our databases have a link that allows you to submit an ILL request from within the database (e.g. all the ProQuest databases). 

How do I request MeLCat materials?

Search the Alma College catalog for the item that you seek.  If we do not own it, click on the button at the top of the results page, that says Try MeLCat.  MeLCat  items can also  be requested directly from the MeLCat home page.

How long may I keep the materials from other libraries?

Due dates for ILL materials are set by the lending library.  They will typically allow us to keep an item for 2 - 3 weeks.  MeLCat materials are typically checked out for 21 days, beginning the date that the patron picks them up from the Circulation Desk.

How do I renew these materials?

To renew an ILL item, please contact Interlibrary Loan assistant, Susan Cross, several days before the item is due.  Renewal of Interlibrary Loan materials is granted at the discretion of the lending library.  MeLCat participants are allowed one renewal per item.  You cannot renew a MeLCat item until 7 days before the due date.

How long does it take for materials to arrive?

It is difficult to estimate times of arrival for ILL or MeLCat items, as this largely depends on how quickly requests are processed by lending libraries.  However, patrons should expect a wait of 1 - 2 weeks for most items that need to arrive via post or delivery service.  Individual articles may often be digitized and sent via e-mail, resulting in quicker delivery times.

How will I know when materials arrive, and where may I pick them up?

You will receive an email notification (to your Alma email account) when your ILL or MeLCat materials have arrived.  You may pick them up at the circulation desk.

Who may use these services?

Alma College students, faculty, emeriti faculty, staff and administrators in good standing may use ILL and MeLCat services.  Alumni are not eligible to use interlibrary loan or MeLCat through Alma College.  Alumni may be able to interlibrary loan items, or request MeLCat items, through their local public libraries.

What kind of materials may I request?

You may request books, audiovisual materials, or individual articles through ILL.  You may request books and audiovisual materials through MeLCat.

Is there a limit on how many items I can order?

There is no limit on how many ILL items you can order.  For MeLCat, the limit is 50 items ‘on hold’ at one time.

How much do these services cost?

Both Interlibrary Loan and MeLCat services are free to our patrons.  Thanks to tuition fees and other donations, the library does not charge directly for MeLCat or ILL services.  Because the library does incur borrowing costs however, we ask that you use these services carefully and judiciously.  You are responsible for replacement costs for lost or damaged items, and for overdue items.