Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Interlibrary Loan FAQs

Answers to the most commonly asked questions about ILL.

What Cannot Be Processed or Obtained?

Ambiguous References, Incomplete Citations & Research Requests

We are only able to submit to ILL libraries complete, unambiguous citations for materials that have been published, or verified as existing since ILL libraries will only accept such requests. Therefore, (a) incomplete citations, (b) forthcoming works (with "estimated" citations), (c) working drafts, (d) incorrectly cited works, (e) citations correctly formatted but fabricated by AI tools, (f) non-existing full-length manuscripts to conference abstracts, and (g) vaguely referenced works (that are found mentioned, but not cited, in published or unpublished content) cannot be submitted to other libraries to supply.

Also, this ILL service and ILL libraries are unable to perform on your behalf the level of research that is necessary to identify and verify the exact citation to (a) an ambiguously mentioned reference, (b) a work that has yet to be formally published (in any format), (c) an item that has not been formally cataloged in WorldCat, or (d) a print material that has not be collected by ILL libraries. For example, we cannot identify for you the exact passage or argument within an article, chapter or book to which the citing author fails to provide a pinpoint page number. However, we can obtain for  you a copy of the article or chapter or a loan of the book so that you may research the content for that particular passage. Please ask assistance from Reference Services to help you verify the existence of and the exact citation to a vaguely described work, study or report that is associated with a scholar, professor, or researcher and where the publication is unnamed.

To identify a citation to a forthcoming work, or newly accepted manuscript, please contact the publisher for confirmation and citation information. This ILL service is unable to process requests based upon "estimated" or proposed future citations by the author or publisher. As a library-to-library service, we are unable to obtain a manuscript proof from the publisher. Works previously cited as "forthcoming" may be requested via ILL only after they are formally published, when copies are owned by ILL-participating libraries, and through the published citation.

The following are not eligible for borrowing regardless of the purpose of their use:

These materials are not eligible for borrowing as the types of items are not loaned by libraries:

  • Casebooks, coursebooks or textbooks & assigned readings: Please check "Can Required Readings & Casebooks Be Requested?"
  • Entire issues or volumes of print periodicals or original newspapers. However, if a periodical has been microfilmed, we may be able to borrow a set of reels or fiche for you to peruse.
  • Digital audio files (e.g. MP3s) of music, books, etc.; online video or streaming files; games in any format, for any platform (e.g. apps, XBox, etc.).
  • Reference books (e.g. dictionaries, encyclopedia, etc.). Please submit requests for specific entries, pages, sections or chapters from such publications.
  • Rare materials; special collection items; archival materials; manuscripts; genealogical items; books published more than 100 years ago. For materials that are outside of copyrights, check HathiTrust (log in with your GULC NetID and Password) and Internet Archive for digital replications.

For materials that cannot be obtained for personal or leisure purposes, check Can Materials for Personal or Leisure Use be Requested?

These materials are not eligible for ILL as the types of items are not found in the general collections at libraries:

  • Case briefs and court documents that have been not microfilmed and held only by court clerks or at NARA. Please contact the court clerk office or NARA directly.
  • Materials that would be requested under FOIA. Submit a FOIA request to the appropriate agency.
  • Special, unique collection materials, such as original, historical papers, manuscripts, or letters (that have not been microfilmed), held by special collections or manuscripts departments or archive institutions, like NARA and the Library of Congress Manuscripts Division. Contact the holding institution or archive directly.

Infringing on Fair Use & ILL Libraries' Policies

  • Though you may request to have a certain amount of pages within a large work, or collection of works to be copied, this ILL service is restricted by fair use on how much content we can ask ILL libraries to scan for you. If in this ILL service's assessment determines that your request infringes on fair use, we will opt to borrowing the entire book instead.
  • ILL libraries set their own limits on how much content they will download from their licensed electronic subscription or scan from their print collection. If your request exceeds ILL libraries' copying policies, we will opt to borrowing the entire book instead.