Looking for books not available at MLibrary? Try UBorrow.

UBorrow is another service of interlibrary loan (ILL) for the borrowing of physical items that allows you to:

  • Search or browse a database of 14 combined library catalogs
  • Discover whether or not a book is available at MLibrary or within the participating institutions
  • Place a request that goes directly to another institution without pausing in the local interlibrary loan office
  • Expect a faster and more reliable turnaround time (usually within 5 business days)
  • Receive longer loan period for physical book loans for 17 weeks (DVDs and other special materials will still have relatively brief loan periods)

Other than those distinctions, there’s no real difference to you between a regular ILL book and a UBorrow book. You may have used a similar system at your public library—MeLCat is a consortium of 400 Michigan libraries allowing direct patron interaction. UBorrow, on the other hand, provides books from the research collections consortium of the Big Ten libraries.

Participating Institutions

  • Center for Research Libraries
  • Indiana University
  • Michigan State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • Purdue University   
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of Wisconsin

How do I decide whether to use regular ILL or UBorrow?

UBorrow is only available for books and other items that can be physically loaned (not scans/article/chapters that you would download).  When you are searching using the UBorrow search form, you can choose to limit your results by format, which can help you limit your search to items which can be physically borrowed.  For example, you can choose to limit to Books, or DVD Videos, or Music Scores, and those would typically be items that can be loaned via UBorrow.  Formats that typically are not available for loan would include e-Books, e-Journals, e-Recordings, and other electronic or online sources.  (Note that on occasion limiting by format will produce unreliable or incomplete results).  

If you are going to need a book for 12 weeks, start with UBorrow; ILL traditionally has shorter loan periods, particularly for popular items.  But if you can’t find the book in the UBorrow database, then ILL should be your next stop.  See this chart to help you choose.

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Last modified: 11/06/2018