Beyond Our Collection


Common Questions about Borrowing From Other Libraries

  • If the Boston Public Library doesn’t have what you need, we may be able to borrow it from another library for you.

    Borrowing via Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) is the quickest and most convenient way to get your item if we don't have it in our collection. Once you have searched our catalog for the title and cannot find it, log in to the Commonwealth Catalog to search and request from the collections of lending libraries across Massachusetts.

    Your item isn’t in the Commonwealth Catalog? Request it on ILLiad and we'll initiate a broader search. ILLiad is the software BPL uses to search for items that are not owned by BPL or available through the Commonwealth Catalog. Note that ILLiad requests are subject to special restrictions.

    1. First search our our catalog
    2. Then search the Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat)
    3. If you still haven’t found the item you need, place your request through ILLiad
  • Materials that BPL/ MBLN does not own. This includes books, media, or articles.

    We can’t always find an institution willing to lend an item. This happens most frequently with recent publications, reference books, current textbooks, and entire issues of periodicals.

    Video games and current textbooks are not available via interlibrary loan.

  • It varies. You can check the progress of your request by logging into to your  Commonwealth Catalog or ILLiad accounts.

  • If you placed a request in the Commonwealth Catalog, you can log in to your account to check the status of your request.

    If you placed a request in ILLiad, you can login in to your account to check the status of your request.

    Otherwise, please contact the Interlibrary Loan Department at or 617.859.2500.

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