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Getting Items from other Libraries: Interlibrary Loan and Universal Borrowing : Home

If you need an item that is not owned by the UW-Madison, there are other options to explore. Universal Borrowing allows borrowing from other UW campuses, and Interlibrary Loan allows borrowing from other libraries. Make smarter requests with this guide!

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Universal Borrowing and Interlibrary Loan

Getting Items from Other Libraries

Wall of Books

What happens when you can't find an item at a University of Wisconsin-Madison library?  There are still several ways for you to get the item.  It is very likely that you can get the item from another University of Wisconsin Campus, or even from another University's library, or even find it for free online.  

Before you try either Universal Borrowing or Interlibrary Loan, be sure to check the library catalog and see if there is a copy available on campus. 

Universal Borrowing

UW System

Universal Borrowing is the term used to describe borrowing items from another UW-campus.  As shown in the above map, UW-campuses are located across the state, and their resources can be requested for your use.  For a video tutorial on how to request books from other campuses, click on the "Universal Borrowing" tab. 

InterLibrary Loan


Interlibrary Loan describes the process of borrowing materials from universities other than Wisconsin.  Academic and Public Libraries across the United States share their materials with other members of the library community.  Due to shipping costs and time constraints, this is last option to use, after checking UW-Madison's library catalog and utilizing Universal Borrowing.  However, it can be a powerful tool in locating a book that may have been published locally, or has been out of print for years.  For a tutorial on how to request items via Interlibrary Loan, click on the "Interlibrary Loan" tab above.

Free Online Resources


Digitalization and resource sharing is becoming increasingly common.  Institutions ranging from the Library of Congress to Google are scanning in historical or academic works and sharing them for free online.  Before using any online resource, especially a free one, it is a good idea to check with your reference librarian to ensure that the site is legal and safe to visit.  For a list of free online resources, click on the "Free Online Resources" tab above.



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