Interlibrary Loan Policies

The Hekman Library Interlibrary Loan (ILL) policies are based on the Interlibrary Loan Code of the American Library Association (ALA) and the most current copyright law. Interlibrary Loan is a library service to obtain materials not available at the Hekman Library. The lending library retains the rights to their materials and any conditions of use imposed by that library must be strictly observed. The lending library may stipulate that use of an item be restricted to the library, and it may prohibit all photocopying of the item. The lending library also stipulates the due date of the item. All items are subject to immediate recall by the lending library.

Copyright and Resource Sharing

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” (as defined by the U.S. Copyright Office) that user may be liable for copyright infringement. Therefore, the Hekman Library reserves the right to refuse a request if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request would violate copyright law.

Copyright Rule of Five

We must adhere to the copyright rule of five which means that we can only request five articles from a single journal title that has been published within the past five years. For older articles, there is no limit. The five articles can be requested by one individual or more but the limit is strictly five articles. It’s NOT five articles per patron. If the journal is covered by the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), we can request additional articles (from the most recent five years) but then we have to submit these citations to the CCC and pay the copyright costs.


The Hekman Library provides Interlibrary Loan services to all faculty, staff, students, alumni*, emeriti of Calvin College and Seminary, visiting scholars, and Christian Reformed pastors. A patron's library account must be in good standing to initiate an interlibrary loan request. Individuals and institutions not affiliated with Calvin College and Seminary may be eligible for borrowing materials by submitting an interlibrary loan request to the Hekman Library through their local public library, or the educational institution in which they are enrolled. The Hekman Library guest user card does not include Interlibrary loan service.

*Alumni requests are filled only if there is no fee imposed by the lending library. Alumni may request up to 5 items per year. Audio-Visual items may not be requested.


MeLCat is a Michigan state-wide library resource sharing service. There are over 400 participating libraries. All eligible users who need materials not owned by Calvin’s library are encouraged to use MeLCat before submitting an ILL request. Typically, MeLCat is faster than Interlibrary Loan and is a free service. Requests can be made at or follow the link from within our library catalog. Pick up your materials at the 2nd floor circulation desk in typically 2 – 5 days.

*Alumni may not use MeLCat through their Calvin library privileges, but are encouraged to use their public library as a pickup location.

Submission of Requests

Requests for interlibrary loan service must be submitted electronically through the Interlibrary Loan request form online, through direct link within the research databases or by email.

All materials must be picked up at the main circulation desk on the 2nd floor. No books or A/V materials will be mailed.

The following items cannot be requested through ILL:

  • Materials for Reserves or group use
  • An entire issue of a periodical, magazine, or newspaper

Articles are mainly delivered as email attachments or through short term access to a password protected link. Any articles received in print for will be mailed.

Patrons should determine availability before submitting requests by searching the Library Catalog, and using MeLCat (Michigan Electronic Library Catalog), and consulting our library staff. Generally requests are processed in the order in which they are received.

In accordance with copyright law a separate request must be submitted for each item. Accurate and complete information about the item and the patron making the request are essential to processing requests. Any request may be cancelled and returned if it lacks sufficient information to be processed. By submitting a request patrons acknowledge their acceptance of Interlibrary Loan policies, fees, and copyright laws.

ILL is not recommended as an alternative to buying textbooks. Generally ILL books can be kept for a limited time period and renewals cannot be assured. It will most likely need to be returned before the course is complete.

Alumni furthering their education at another educational institution are recommended to use their current institution’s ILL service. See Alumni eligibility for limitations.

Turn-around Time

The length of time from request to completion is difficult to estimate. Most article requests are completed in less than three days and most book requests are completed within one – two weeks. But there are many variables that can double or triple the turn-around time. If you don’t receive notification in ten business days, use the ILL Status Request form.

Loan Periods

The loan period is set by the lending library. The due date is strictly enforced with no grace period. To maintain our good standing with lending libraries, materials must be returned promptly. ILL borrowing privileges will be suspended if materials are overdue or fines not paid. Unclaimed items will be sent back to the lending library the day before the due date of the item.

Fees and Charges

Most ILL requests are free because we are able to find libraries that will send materials to us without charge. If we are unable to find free resources but you are willing to pay the charges imposed by the lending library, we will request the material. You may be required to pay the fee before we request an item.

Please mark on your request the maximum amount of money (if any) you are willing to spend, as we will only pass pre-approved charges on to you. Typical charges are from $15 - $25.

  • Faculty and Staff will be contacted if the fee is excessive
  • Alumni requests will be filled only if the items are free
  • Student requests will be filled if the fee is $10 or less. For items costing more than $10, the ILL staff will contact you with two options:
    • You pay the excess amount – charges will be placed on your Misc. Account
    • Work with a librarian to locate equivalent sources. If no equivalent sources are found, the library will pay the amount over $10 as recommended by a research librarian
See the Copyright Rule of Five for one possible source of ILL fees.

Dissertations and Theses

This option is only available to faculty, staff, and graduate students. These are usually located only at the issuing institution and often not available for lending. Try searching by the title on the web for newer dissertations and theses. This method is often successful for newer dissertations and theses. Otherwise, the ILL staff will attempt to locate a free lending copy. If unsuccessful, you will be given the following two options:
  • If you want to keep the item, purchase it from ProQuest
  • If you don’t want to keep it, the library will purchase a paper copy, bind it, and place it in the library’s collection. Expect this process to take several weeks.


Renewals are granted at the discretion of the lending library. The Hekman Library will honor the stipulations of the lending library. Only one renewal per item can be made. All requests for renewals should be made at least three days before the original due date. If the lending library does not grant the renewal, the item must be returned immediately. To request a renewal, email us or call 616-526-8573 with the following information: book title, ILL number, and the current due date. After submitting a renewal request, we will contact you to let you know if the request was granted and the new due date.

Returning Materials

Materials obtained through ILL should be returned directly to the main circulation desk of the Hekman Library or in the library’s drop box. There is a $1.00 per day late fee.

Penalties for Misuse

The Hekman Library’s Interlibrary Loan Department reserves the right to deny interlibrary loan privileges to any patron who abuses the service.

Overdue Items

Materials are expected to be returned by their due date. There is no grace period and borrowed materials will be assessed a $1 per day late fee. The Hekman Library’s ILL Department will send overdue notices. Patrons are responsible for materials even if no notices are received.

Patrons are responsible for contacting ILL staff if they will need their item for longer than the stipulated loan period. The ILL staff will work with the patron to accommodate their needs. However, if an ILL item is over one month overdue, and the patron has not contacted the ILL staff, we will request a replacement invoice. The patron will need to pay the replacement invoice to reinstate their ILL privileges. Patrons with overdue interlibrary loan items will have both their interlibrary loan borrowing privileges and their library privileges suspended until the overdue item is returned or billed to the patron’s miscellaneous account. A patron will have their account restored upon completing the following conditions:

  • All overdue material has been returned
  • All outstanding fines and fees have been paid

Privileges may be revoked at the discretion of the Access Services Supervisor.

Unclaimed Items

Unclaimed items will be sent back to the lending library the day before the due date of the item.

Damaged and Lost Items

Patrons are responsible for the full replacement costs of any damaged or lost materials. The lending library will set the replacement cost and invoice accordingly. The Hekman Library lost fee does not apply to ILL books.

In-Library Use Policy

"In-library use only" interlibrary loan requests are identified on the material by the words “In-Library Use Only” written in the lending restrictions area. This restriction has been set by the loaning institution. Violating this restriction places all Calvin College and Seminary faculty, staff and students in jeopardy of not being able to receive needed research materials from lending institutions.

Hekman Library’s ILL department follows the ALA code of responsibilities. In section 4.10 of the ALA code it states that the requesting library is responsible for honoring the due date and enforcing any use restrictions specified by the supplying library. In-library use is a restriction that this department must honor.

In-library use materials may be used anywhere inside the Hekman Library and returned to the Circulation Desk before leaving the library. It is the patron’s responsibility to request a renewal for an in-library use item. In the event an in-library use material is taken outside the library, the patron’s ILL and Hekman library accounts will be suspended until the item is returned.

As stated under Penalties for Misuse, the Interlibrary Loan Department reserves the right to deny interlibrary loan privileges to any patron who abuses the service. This includes the abuse of an in-library use only restriction.