Frequently asked questions about your Interlibrary loan account

Why is the library asking interlibrary loan users to create an account?

  • The accounts simplify the placement and processing of interlibrary loan requests.
  • You will find it easier to submit your Interlibrary loan requests. With your interlibrary loan account, you enter your name, address, and other personal information into the system only once, at the time of your first request.
  • When loans arrive you will be able to see the full title with the due date in your interlibrary loan account. (Your library card account will still show the generic title "interlibrary loan.")
  • You can get many of your photocopies more quickly through electronic delivery.
  • You can check the status of your request on the web at any time from any location without having to call the interlibrary loan office.
  • You can place requests on the web at any time, without having to visit the library.
  • Library personnel are able to serve you better because all data about your request and its handling is stored in a searchable database. We are able to respond quickly to your inquiries about your request. We are also able to gather statistical information about the performance of the libraries that lend to us, enabling us to make better decisions when choosing a lender to supply an item.

Why do I need a password to use my interlibrary loan account?

Your password allows us to give you secure access to information about your interlibrary loan requests. We can also enable you to edit your personal information, such as your address or phone number.

Your password can be anything you like. We recommend that you follow good security practice and choose a password that is different from those you use to access other systems. However, no one but you will know your password, not even the library staff. The password you set is stored in an encrypted file.

What if I forget my password?

If you provided an email address when you established your interlibrary loan account, you can use this link to reset your password. If you do not have an email address in your interlibrary loan account, please contact the Interlibrary Loan office at 503.988.5245. We can then reset your password. Please change your password once you log in.

It is possible to establish a password hint that will appear if you mistype or do not enter your password.

How long will it take for my interlibrary loan to arrive?

The time it takes to fill your order depends on the location of the material and its availability at the library from which we request it. On average, in-state borrowing takes about 2 weeks and out of state may take four weeks or longer. Copies of articles and book chapters generally take 2-7 days if they are delivered in an electronic format. Photocopies of articles can take a week or more to arrive in the mail.

Items may take longer than these estimates if they are lost or not on the shelf at other libraries, in high demand (e.g. a best seller), or if the request has incorrect or incomplete information.

To check on the status of your request log in to your Interlibrary Loan account. For an explanation of the status see: What does the status mean?.

How many requests am I allowed?

You are allowed five active requests. A loan is active from the time you submit it until it is returned to the interlibrary loan office. (This is typically four to seven days after you drop it off at most neighborhood libraries. If you drop it off at Central Library, it should take less time.) Because photocopies do not need to be returned, a photocopy request is active from the time you submit it until the interlibrary loan office receives it and sends it on to you, either by mail or by posting it to your interlibrary loan account as a PDF. To determine the number of active requests on your account, add "Loans that have Arrived" to "Requests Awaiting Processing."

What does the status mean?

You will see multiple statuses related to your request. Below are explanations for common statuses.

  • Checked Out to Customer: Customer refers to Multnomah County Library, not an individual patron. Your request has arrived at the Interlibrary Loan department and is on its way to your local branch. You will be notified of its arrival within a few days.
  • Shipped: A library, typically identified by a three letter code such as ORX, has shipped the item to the Multnomah County library. It will typically be a week or two before it arrives at your local branch.
  • Awaiting Patron Reply: Interlibrary Loan has contacted you regarding your request. If you have not received an email, letter, or phone call please contact the Interlibrary Loan department.
  • Request Sent: Your request has been submitted to potential lending libraries. Interlibrary Loan is waiting to see if a library will be able to lend your requested item.

What web browser should I use?

You need a web browser that can handle forms, tables, and preferably Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). We recommend the current versions of either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

Is security a problem if I use a public workstation?

Yes. Web browsers cache information and create a history file on the local workstation. This allows a subsequent user of the workstation to access the system under your name using the browser's Back button to recall a page from the cache, or by finding a page with your personal information in the browser's history file. If you are concerned about the security of your Interlibrary loan requests, you can take the following steps:

  1. Delete from the history file those pages that contain your personal information.
  2. Exit from the web browser before you leave the workstation. This prevents the Back button from accessing the pages you were using.

Why don't I see all my older requests when I look at my request history?

We regularly purge interlibrary loan requests that are more than six months old from patron accounts.

What is electronic delivery?

Many libraries ship photocopies of articles to us in electronic format. In the past we printed these articles before delivering them to you. Now we are able to offer you electronic delivery of these articles, as PDFs (Adobe's Portable Document Format). You can read more about electronic delivery on the Electronic Delivery Information page.

Why does my browser say that you're sending a cookie? What's in it?

The technology that we use sends a Session ID to be stored on your machine. You can refuse this cookie and still be able to use your interlibrary loan account without any problems.

Why aren't interlibrary loan materials checked out for the standard three weeks?

Due dates are provided by the owning library (and we subtract a few days to allow time for the book to be mailed back). Every library makes its own choices about how long to check out Interlibrary loan materials, so the due dates vary; some materials go out for more than three weeks, some for less. Make the most of your time by picking up your materials as soon as you can. Interlibrary loan materials are not renewable.

What information should I provide if I am researching genealogy?

Genealogy materials do not circulate from most libraries. To expedite your requests for genealogical material, we advise that you include the names you seek in the 'Notes' section of the request form. It is also helpful to know if you prefer a loan or a copy, and if you would like a copy of the index or table of contents.

I want to borrow microform, but my neighborhood library does not have a reader. How do I indicate which library I would like my microfilm (or fiche) sent to?

Please indicate the library you would like the microform sent to in the "Notes" section of the request form. Central, Gresham, North Portland and Sellwood-Moreland libraries have film and fiche readers with printers.

What if I lose my library card?

If you lose your library card, please get a new card and create a new interlibrary loan account with the new card number. Interlibrary loan staff will merge the new account with your old account as soon as possible, giving you access to requests made with the lost card.

Why don't the titles of Interlibrary loan items show in my library card account?

Interlibrary loan items are not owned by Multnomah County Library, so we do not have those titles in our catalog. They appear in your library card account with the generic title "Interlibrary loan." The title and the due date appear in your interlibrary loan account under "Loans that have Arrived." The due date is also printed on the purple sticker we place on every interlibrary loan item.

How will I be notified when my interlibrary loan item is ready?

For most items — loans that can be checked out — you will be notified just as you would for a hold on an item that belongs to Multnomah County Library: an automated call, email, or letter according to the preference indicated on your library card record. Photocopies will be mailed to you, unless electronic delivery is possible. If an item is an in-library use only loan, library staff will call you.

Why does my interlibrary loan account say I have items checked out that I haven't received, or that I have turned in?

When an item that you requested arrives at the Interlibrary Loan office, it is checked out to your Interlibrary Loan account and remains checked out until it is returned our office. During this time, the request tracking will show the status "Checked Out to Customer." When you pick up circulating Interlibrary loan items from your neighborhood library, those materials are checked out on your library card account.

How do I change the branch that I use for Interlibrary loan pick up?

You can change your branch, address, phone number or email by logging in to your interlibrary loan account and clicking 'Change Personal Information'. If you have moved be sure to update your library card record as well.

How do I cancel an interlibrary loan request?

You can cancel an interlibrary loan request from your interlibrary loan account. Find instructions in a tutorial.

Why does the Tracking section of a request's Detailed Information screen occasionally show a time in the future?

The server that hosts the interlibrary loan accounts is in Ohio, so most of the tracking time stamps are in Eastern Standard Time.

Whom do I contact if I have problems with or questions about interlibrary loan?

Please contact the Interlibrary Loan office at 503.988.5245 or email