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Fact Sheet
Interlibrary Loan

Most of the literature in the general and historical collections of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is available on interlibrary loan to any library. NLM provides copies of journal articles and loans books, audiovisuals and microforms. NLM's interlibrary loan services are available only to libraries. NLM is the library of last resort for materials that are not available from local or regional libraries. Individuals who need access to medical literature should make a request through a local library or register with a Loansome Doc library that agrees to provide articles to them.

Requests sent to NLM must comply with these instructions and with the provisions of the National Interlibrary Loan Code of the American Library Association (ALA).

U.S. Medical Libraries

  • Libraries in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine® (NN/LM) should send requests via DOCLINE®, NLM's automated interlibrary loan request and referral system.
  • The Regional Medical Library (RML) in your area will answer interlibrary loan related questions and assist you with obtaining DOCLINE access. To reach the RML, phone 1 800-338-RMLS (7657) or visit the NN/LM web page.

U.S. Non-Medical Libraries

  • Non-medical libraries in the U.S. that have a recurring need for medical information should contact the RML to discuss how they may be served best. To reach your RML, phone 1 800-338-RMLS (7657) or visit the NN/LM web page.
  • Non-medical libraries in the U.S. may send requests to NLM after determining that the material is not available locally or regionally.

Canadian Libraries

  • Medical libraries in Canada should send requests via DOCLINE. Requests should route to the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) before they are sent to NLM.
  • CISTI coordinates Canadian access to DOCLINE for NLM. Medical libraries in Canada should discuss obtaining access to DOCLINE with CISTI.
  • Non-medical or libraries without DOCLINE access should request materials from Canadian medical libraries or from CISTI.

Other Non-U.S. Libraries

  • A small number of libraries outside the U.S. have access to DOCLINE and will accept requests for articles via Loansome Doc. The list of Non-U.S. Libraries Providing Document Delivery Internationally using DOCLINE is available from NLM's web site.
  • Libraries that cannot identify a DOCLINE library willing to serve them may send requests for articles to NLM for items not available in their country.
  • Material in original form is not loaned outside of the U.S.

DOCLINE is the preferred method of receiving requests. Requests received via DOCLINE are processed more quickly.

  • General Collection, - LIBID:  MDUNLM
  • General Collection, Clinical Emergency Requests Only - LIBID:   MDULMF
  • Historical Collection - LIBID:  MDUHMD
Non-DOCLINE requests require additional processing time.
ALA and IFLA preprinted interlibrary loan forms
Telefacsimile: (301) 496-2809

All requests for material to be loaned or copied must include a statement of conformance to either the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (CCL) or the Copyright Guidelines (CCG). To request:

  • Include the library identification (LIBID) number of the requesting library. A LIBID number is assigned to all libraries that borrow from the NLM. It is required for subsequent requests.
  • Request each item or item segment (chapter, part of issue, etc.) separately.
  • Verify citations in NLM databases or publications and enter into DOCLINE using the unique identifier number of the item. Non-DOCLINE requests should contain the NLM call number. To obtain call numbers, access LOCATORplus, NLM's online public access catalog, at the following Web site:
  • Give source of verification and state the specific NLM database containing the citation. Include the citation or serial unique identifier.
  • Include the authorizing person's name (electronic transmissions) or the signature of the authorizing person at the borrowing library (mailed).
  • NLM will refer interlibrary loan requests when "Refer On" is indicated as a comment on an electronically transmitted request or typed at the top of an ALA or IFLA form. Requests must be within the scope of the NLM collection, not available at NLM, carry complete citation information and be identified by NLM as being held by another library.
  • Most requests received at NLM are processed within 24 hours. Due to the large daily volume of ILL requests, it is not possible for NLM to cancel a request once it is received.

The loan period for original material, microfilm and audiovisuals is one month. No renewals are granted. Libraries with overdue items will be billed for lost materials after two overdue notices have been sent. Interlibrary loan service will not be provided to libraries with delinquent accounts.

NLM will deliver material that has been copied by Ariel, fax (See Charges), and U.S. mail. Original materials are delivered by courier service to ensure their safety. NLM pays postage for outgoing loans.

For the protection of the borrowing library, NLM suggests that materials be insured or registered and that a return receipt be requested. The borrowing library pays postage; is responsible for material from time of receipt until the item is returned and received at NLM; will replace materials lost or irreparably damaged, and meet repair costs for damaged materials.

  • Return post-1913 monographs, post-1969 audiovisuals*, and microfilm to the Collection Access Section. Return pre-1970 audiovisuals* to the History of Medicine Division.

During the hours that NLM is open, Clinical Emergency requests will be filled within two hours. If NLM is unable to fill the requests, notification will be transmitted within two hours. The ONLY delivery method for clinical emergency requests is FAX.

  • Only those requests needed for emergency patient care qualify for this service.
  • DOCLINE participants should prefix these requests to NLM at LIBID:   MDULMF.

CHARGES - Effective July 2001

U.S. Libraries
-All Delivery - $9.00

Canadian and other non-U.S.libraries
-Mail Delivery - $11.00
-Fax Delivery - $14.00
-Ariel or Email Delivery - $9.00

-NLM will provide interlibrary loans free of charge to all federal libraries up to the first 1,000 requests received per year. Any federal institution requesting more than 1,000 items from NLM in a single fiscal year would be charged $4.00 per article after that. At the start of a new fiscal year, each federal library starts again at 0.

Do not send payment with the loan request. Invoices will be issued quarterly by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Virginia 22161 and are payable to NTIS. Libraries must establish a deposit account with NTIS to facilitate payment. Coupons are not accepted as payment for these charges. Interlibrary loan service will not be provided to libraries with delinquent accounts.

Keep a copy of each loan request form. The loan request number appears on the summary page of the invoice and is needed to interpret the invoice charges. NLM is unable to provide a second copy at the end of the quarter.

Many of the photographs or slides of portraits, prints, charts, and other pictorial works in the collection may be viewed from the Images from the History of Medicine web page. Ordering copies from this material requires special procedures. Link to information about these procedures from the web page or write to: Prints and Photographs Collection, History of Medicine Division (address below) for information and costs. Orders requiring copyright owner's permission will not be accepted unless accompanied by this permission in writing.

For journal material published after 1870, monograph material published after 1913 and audiovisual* material produced after 1969:

National Library of Medicine
LIBID:   MDUNLM (Regular) or
LIBID:   MDULMF (Clinical Emergency)
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894
Telephone: (301) 496-5511
Fax: (301) 496-2809

For journal material published before 1871, monograph material published before 1914 and audiovisual* material produced before 1970:

National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894
Telephone: (301) 496-5405
Fax: (301) 402-0872

*All 16 mm audiovisual films are serviced by the History of Medicine Division.

First published: 21 July 2001
Last updated: 21 July 2001
Date Archived: 13 April 2004
Metadata | Permanence level: Permanent: Stable Content
Replaced by

U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health & Human Services
Copyright and Privacy Policy
Last updated: 27 June 2001