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Fact Sheet
Interlibrary Loan

Access | Request Methods | Request Requirements | Delivery & Returns | Clinical Emergencies | Charges | Billing | Contact Us

Most of the general and historical collection of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is available through interlibrary loan to any library. NLM provides copies of journal articles and loans books, audiovisuals and microforms. NLM should be considered "the library of last resort" for materials that are not available from local or regional libraries.

NLM's interlibrary loan services are available only to libraries. Individuals who need access to biomedical literature should make a request through a local library or register with a Loansome Doc® library that agrees to provide articles to them. See also more information on free biomedical literature resources from NLM and other sources.



U.S. Medical Libraries 

U.S. Non-Medical Libraries

  • Non-medical libraries that have a recurring need for biomedical information should contact their RML to discuss how they may be best served. To reach your RML, phone 410-706-4173 or visit the NN/LM® web page.

Canadian Libraries

  • Medical libraries in Canada who are DOCLINE participants should send requests via DOCLINE. Medical libraries that are not DOCLINE participants should contact the NRC's National Science Library for information on eligibility.
  • Non-medical libraries or libraries without DOCLINE access should request materials from Canadian medical libraries or from NRC's National Science Library .

Other Non-U.S. Libraries

  • A small number of libraries outside the U.S. have access to DOCLINE and will accept requests from other libraries or individuals via Loansome Doc®. During registration, you can search for non-U.S. libraries providing document delivery internationally.
  • Libraries that cannot identify a DOCLINE library willing to serve them may send requests directly to NLM for items not available in their country.  Requests must follow requirements stated in this document.
  • Material in original form is not loaned outside of the U.S.
  • See more information on biomedical literature resources for libraries outside the U.S.


DOCLINE is the preferred method of routing requests to NLM. For information about joining DOCLINE, please refer to the eligibility guidelines or contact the NN/LM DOCLINE Coordination Office.

DOCLINE Participants

Borrowers should ensure the NLM checkbox is selected in the Delivery and Routing portion of their requests.  Additional information on submitting requests via DOCLINE can be found in the DOCLINE FAQs or DOCLINE Online Help

Non-DOCLINE Participants

Libraries that are not DOCLINE members and have established an interlibrary loan account with NLM must submit requests through our web portal using their LIBID and password. All interlibrary loan requests submitted through the portal must include complete citation information including NLM unique ID from LocatorPlus

For customer service assistance, or problems with an ILL request filled by NLM, please use the ILL contact form. Non-DOCLINE libraries who are interested in learning more about ILL form from NLM should consult our ILL Fact Sheet


  • The loan period for original material, microfilm and audiovisuals is two months (60 days).
  • Items cannot be renewed.
  • Overdue notices will be issued 1 day after due date.  Invoices will be issued 21 days after due date for materials which have not been returned.
  • Replacement charges for lost materials are $375 for each audiovisual and $225 for each book. In lieu of payment for the material, NLM will accept a replacement copy.


Delivery: Most requests received at NLM are processed within 24 hours.


  • NLM will deliver copied material by Odyssey, email, post-to-web.
  • The borrowing library must notify NLM within seven days following submission if a request has not been filled. To report a problem with ILL requests filled by NLM, please use our ILL Customer Service form or the Contact Library feature in DOCLINE.


  • Original materials are sent by courier service to ensure their safety.  NLM pays delivery charges for outgoing loans.

Cancellations: Due to the large daily volume of ILL requests, it is not possible for NLM to cancel a request once it is received.

Returns: NLM suggests that returned materials be insured or registered and return receipt service used. Note: post-1913 monographs, post-1969 audiovisuals* and microfilm should be returned to the Collection Access Section. Pre-1914 monographs and pre-1970 audiovisuals* should be returned to the History of Medicine Division

The borrowing library agrees to:

  • Pay return shipping charges
  • Be responsible for loaned material from the time of receipt until the item is returned and received at NLM
  • Replace or pay for materials lost
  • Cover repair costs for damaged materials or replacement costs for any irreparably damaged items.


During the hours that NLM is open, Clinical Emergency (Urgent Patient Care) requests will be filled within two hours. If NLM is unable to fill the request, notification will be sent within two hours. Clinical emergency requests are filled via Odyssey or Post-to-Web delivery. Please note that only requests needed for emergency patient care qualify for this service.

  • DOCLINE participants should route Clinical Emergency (Urgent Patient Care) requests using the NLM LIBID: MDULMF. Select 'Email (PDF)', or 'Web (PDF)' or Odyssey as the NLM Delivery method, and leave the Need By Date blank.


(Effective January 2018)

NLM charges $12.00 for each filled article request and $12.00 for book/audiovisual material loans. There is no charge for services to U.S. Federal institutions.


NLM issues its invoices quarterly. Invoices can be paid through the Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS) or LYRASIS.

Libraries are advised to keep a copy of each request form. The request number will appear on the detailed transaction reports provided by EFTS and will be needed to interpret the charges.

Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS)

EFTS is a transaction-based electronic billing system developed by the University of Connecticut Health Center for ILL and document delivery charges. NLM participates in the EFTS for billing DOCLINE libraries for NLM-supplied documents. 


Invoice payments can also be made through Lyrasis. Payments can be made by check, credit card and bank transfer. The contact information for Lyrasis is:
P.O. Box 116179
Atlanta, GA 30368
Phone: 1-800-999-8558 x 3888

Note: Interlibrary loan service will not be provided to libraries with delinquent accounts.


Many of the photographs or slides of portraits, prints, charts, and other pictorial works in the collection may be viewed in the Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) ( See more information about ordering copies from this database.

Interlibrary loan policy and charges also apply to audiovisual materials. An exception is made for laser discs -- this format is not circulated. For questions about borrowing audiovisual* material produced before 1969, contact the History of Medicine Division.

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



(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
Contact Us:ILL Contact


(For journal material published before 1871, monograph material published before 1914 and audiovisual material produced before 1969)

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

or NLM Customer Support

A complete list of NLM Fact Sheets is available at:
(alphabetical list)
(subject list):

Or write to:

Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894

Phone: (301) 496-6308
Fax: (301) 496-4450

For general information on the Library's computerized information services:

National Library of Medicine
Customer Service
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894

TELEPHONE:   1-888-FINDNLM (1-888-346-3656)