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Interlibrary Loan

What is Interlibrary Loan?


What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan is a cooperative service between libraries through which materials may be obtained.  If Huntsville Madison County Public Library does not have the materials that you need we will be happy to request an item for you through Interlibrary Loan.

Requesting an Interlibrary Loan is easy.  All you need is your library card (in good standing). 

You can request books that circulate, photocopies, and microfilm.  Most libraries will not loan: special collections material, archival material, DVDs, video games, audiobooks, text books, reference material, or new books. New books are books that have been in a library's collection for fewer than six months.

You can place your request in person at your local branch or online at However, patrons who have more than five loan requests should come to the Second Floor Information Desk at the Downtown Branch.


There is a small charge for items loaned between libraries, to cover the cost of shipping your request from one library system to another. You will need to pay this fee to pick up your item when it arrives:

  1. $3.00 per book
  2. $1.00 per microfilm roll
  3. $1.00 for photocopies under 20 pages
  4. $3.00 for 20 or more pages of photocopies

(In addition, some libraries charge a fee for loans or photocopies. Those fees will be passed to you, in addition to our fee. Usually, if there is an additional fee, you will be contacted before the material comes in.)

If you no longer need the item, but have already submitted a request, contact the Interlibrary Loan office immediately. If the item is not cancelled you will be charged the fee for the item.

Estimated Arrival Time

Generally it takes 2-4 weeks for materials to come in. Some factors that determine how long your item will take to arrive:

  1. The item's distance from Huntsville. We will try to locate your item in a library in the state of Alabama first, but if your requested item isn't available in Alabama, we will then search nationwide. A nationwide search will take longer to find and longer to ship.
  2. The postal service. All requests must go through the postal service, and mail is sometimes lost or misdirected.

Interlibrary Loan FAQ

Are you always able to find an interlibrary loan request?

No. Some items just can’t be found. Genealogical materials cannot always be filled. Obscure reference items are sometimes impossible to fill. Brand new books are generally difficult to get, because most libraries have restrictions on lending out newly-published items. Some large academic and public libraries charge an additional fee, as well, which may be prohibitive.

How long may I keep the material once it’s here?

Due dates are established by the lending library. We have to honor their established dates. Sometimes we are able to request a renewal, but many lending libraries will not lend beyond the initial due date. We do all we can to honor the lending library’s policy, because we want to maintain good relationships with all our lenders.

Why is this item checked out on my account?

The Interlibrary Loan office has to create special barcodes for the Interlibrary Loan items when they arrive. Since we create the special barcode, we check out the item for you at the Downtown Branch. When you pick up your Interlibrary Loan material it is already checked out to you.

How much are overdue fines?

Overdue fines are $.50 per day with a maximum fine of $20.00. Please be aware we will contact you in every possible way about this item if it is overdue. We are obligated to get these items back to their lenders in a timely fashion.

What happens if I lose my interlibrary loan item?

Do not lose it! An interlibrary loan book is extremely expensive to replace. Not only is there the fee for the item’s cost, but there will be a processing fee, as well, which will all be passed along to you. So keep track of the interlibrary loan item, and return it on or before the due date.

Photo found through Google Images.

Contact Information

If you have questions concerning Interlibrary Loan Services please contact the Interlibrary Loan and Serials Coordinator via email or phone at the following:


Desk phone- (256)532-5967

Information Desk- (256)532-5975