Answered By: William Gee
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2017     Views: 97

Interlibrary Loan seeks to borrow from other libraries whatever materials ECU students, faculty, and staff request. We can often obtain journal and newspaper articles, book chapters, books, dissertations and theses, DVDs, CDs, and more. Not everything is able to be obtained, though. Libraries can refuse to provide materials to us or can place limitations on the use of their materials. Read below for some common material types that can be difficult for us to obtain, but we'll always try. 


Interlibrary Loan can be used to request materials that the library does not own, including textbooks, but please remember that loan periods through interlibrary loan are typically for about a month and rarely can be extended to the full semester. Items through interlibrary loan are borrowed from other libraries and each library sets its own loan period, which we must follow. For more information on textbooks, visit

Materials owned by & available from the ECU Libraries

If you request items that the ECU Libraries own that are available, we'll either refer you to the electronic, print, media, or microform collection or provide the item from ECU's local collection. If the item you want is checked-out, missing, or otherwise not available, let us know and we'll try to borrow it for you from another library. If you are taking your classes remotely (Distance Education), let us know -- we might be able to ship the materials to you.

Material published or released within the current or past year

Libraries sometimes take months or longer to acquire newly released titles. Many libraries will not loan their newly acquired books or they simply may be checked out by others already. If we cannot borrow a newly released title, the library will consider purchasing a copy.

Entire volumes or issues of periodicals

Full bound versions of journals and magazines are usually impossible or highly costly to replace if they are lost or damaged, so most libraries will not loan them.

Reference works

By their nature as being classified as reference works, most libraries have them in their reference departments and do not loan them to their own patrons, so will not loan them to other library's patrons. Most of the time, though, we can obtain photocopies of sections from reference books.

Rare books

Rare books are usually old (pre-1900), fragile, historically significant, valuable, or of limited printing, thus are impossible to replace if they are damaged or lost in shipping or while on loan. As a result, few libraries lend rare books.

Archival manuscripts

Often these papers are only owned by one library in the world and no other copies exist elsewhere. They are too valuable, historically significant, or irreplaceable to risk having them mailed or even express shipped. Often when these materials are donated to or purchased for the library, they are promised or contractually bound not to lend them offsite.

Genealogical research materials

Like reference books, rare books, and archival papers, genealogical works, whether individual papers or bound books, are often not loaned by libraries. These items are typically owned by few libraries and are irreplaceable if lost or damaged.

Newspapers (original print version)

Very few libraries retain hard-copy newspapers because of the space they require and because newspaper and newsprint are not designed for longevity. Instead, most newspapers are microfilmed or digitized. Requests for newspaper articles are typically filled by borrowing the microfilm reels or getting a photocopy/PDF scan of the article.

DVDs, CDs, and other media

Media formats are increasingly easier to borrow than in years past, although there are still libraries that do not lend their media. Records break. Cassette tapes and VHS tapes can get erased if run through certain security scanning equipment. DVDs and CDs scratch and break easily in the mail. Additionally, these media items tend be popular at the owning libraries. Media for academic use (e.g. documentaries) can also be expensive.

Computer software

Few libraries own and circulate computer software because of licensing/copyright limitations and how quickly costly software is outdated.

Dissertations & Theses

Dissertations and theses are sometimes only owned by the college or university library where the degree was granted. Newer ones are often available online from those campuses or through the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text database. Older ones and ones from institutions outside of the United States of America are more difficult, or even impossible, to obtain.

Grey (gray) literature / Unpublished works

Because working papers, internal reports, drafts, and presentations are unpublished, they can be difficult or impossible to obtain.

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