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Library Resource Liaisons: Your Peer Research Assistants: Get Textbooks

Get started on your research!

What is BorrowDirect, E-ZBorrow, and Interlibrary Loan?

How to borrow textbooks (required texts):

There are four main methods for getting textbooks from the University of Pennsylvania Library, depending on library availability. If the library has the textbook within its catalog, you can simply request it through the Franklin Online Catalog. Otherwise, you want to use three services: BorrowDirect, E-ZBorrow, and Interlibrary Loan. These three services essentially do the same thing, but vary in terms of which textbooks they have. 


Access the Franklin Online Catalog Here

Options for acquiring textbooks and when to use the FGLI textbook Library

  • The GIC's donated book library is a supplemental resource to support students. All Penn financial aid packages account for $1358 per academic year for textbooks. Students can consult with their Financial Aid advisers and review their aid packages to understand what funding sources in their aid package are designated to help them acquire their course materials.
  • Did you know that you can use your PennCard at the Penn Bookstore to charge your textbooks to your Bursar’s account and have the costs deducted from your financial aid? The same return policies apply: no questions asked within the first two weeks of classes, and the funds are returned to your student account. Thereafter, proof of having dropped the course and a restocking fee may apply.
  • To help economize, take full advantage of the wonderful resources at Penn Libraries where some texts are available electronically or on course reserves. You can also request books in advance from other institutions via EZ-Borrow, BorrowDirect and InterLibrary Loan (see our video and more information on this page). The GIC textbook inventory relies heavily on donations of up-to-date materials and serves as a supplemental resource to those listed on this page. Currently, they are unable to purchase new books or access codes for students.  Finally, if students need to utilize the FGLI Program Donated Book catalog to assist with obtaining a few books, the request form for the Fall 2019 semester will be made available the week before classes, around August 20th. The link will be posted on the GIC homepage, on the FGLI webpage and will be shared with FGLI Program’s affiliated student organizations’ social media pages.  Feel free to email, should you have any questions.


How to use BorrowDirect/E-ZBorrow:


Simply enter the name of the textbook in the search box (it is usually helpful to have the author's name to narrow down searches)

Click the selection that has the name of the textbook that you want

Select Van Pelt Library in the pickup location selection, enter the quantity needed, and click submit. 

What is BorrowDirect?

BorrowDirect is a direct request service for books from Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, and the Center for Research Libraries. You will get your books within 3 to 5 days. The loan lasts 16 weeks with no renewals, with $1 a day late fee. 

What is E-ZBorrow?

E-ZBorrow is a direct request service for books from over 60 academic libraries in Pennsylvania and nearby states. The loan lasts 12 weeks with no renewals, with $1 a day late fee.

For both E-ZB and BD:

  • Search multiple library collections simultaneously; place your own requests
  • Fast delivery in 3 - 5 days
  • Track request progress online and by email sent to you
  • Have delivered to your favorite Penn Library


Getting textbooks through the Libraries

Interlibrary Loan

Image result for interlibrary loan icon


What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan is a service through which library materials not owned by Penn or Penn Libraries materials currently unavailable may be requested and obtained from other libraries, for use by Penn students, faculty, and staff.

Integration with your library account

Interlibrary Loan books, videos and CD's are checked out on your Penn library account with a loan period of 12 weeks, no renewalsPlease note: late fines of $1/day will apply.

Who can use Interlibrary Loan?

All currently affiliated University of Pennsylvania students, faculty, and staff are eligible to use the service. The main Interlibrary Loan Office is located in Room 233 of the Van Pelt Library ( or 215-898-7558).

Courtesy borrowers and Penn alumni are not eligible to use interlibrary loan services at Penn. Courtesy borrowers should contact the service at their home institution or at their local public library.  More information on courtesy and alumni borrowing can be found here:

What kinds of materials can Interlibrary Loan provide?

Through Interlibrary Loan you may request materials not owned by the Penn Libraries as well as Penn Libraries materials currently in use or otherwise unavailable to borrow.  This includes materials that are checked out, non-circulating, on Reserve or missing.  Formats that can be requested include physical books and journals (e-books not available), electronic articles or book chapters, DVD's, Music CD's and microfilm or microfiche.

You will be notified by e-mail as soon as the material is received.  Articles and book chapters will be delivered to your desktop electronically while physical items such as books or CD's will be available at the Circulation Desk of the library specified in the email. Some material is restricted by the lender for use only within Penn Libraries.

How do I submit an Interlibrary Loan request?

Use the Resource Sharing home page to get started. For a book request, start with either BorrowDirect or E-ZBorrow for the fastest service.  If your title is not available in either of those services you will be given the option to pass the request on to Interlibrary Loan.  Most DVD's, music CD's, microfilm and microfiche will need to be requested using the Interlibrary Loan Request Book link in the left-hand column.   If you need an article or a book chapter, use the Request Article link in the left-hand column.

When submitting any Interlibrary Loan request form, please provide as much information about the item as you can. If you need to double-check citation information for a book, it's often helpful to check Amazon or WorldCat or ask your librarian subject specialist for assistance.

Can I get articles through Interlibrary Loan?

Journal articles or book chapters not available at Penn, up to a maximum of 50 pages - for a specific article or book chapter, may be requested via Interlibrary Loan.  In general, the more complete and accurate the citation you provide the more quickly the article or book chapter will be delivered. If you need to double-check citation information for an article, it is often helpful to check Articles+ or individual databases. Please submit requests for each specific article or book chapter needed on a separate request form.

These requests will be delivered electronically to your desktop.

If you have questions about submitting a request please contact ILL staff at your home library.

How do I check the status of an Interlibrary Loan request?

Check the View Current Requests page. When the request status changes to Checked Out to Customer consult your Penn Library Account  for real-time status and due date information. Loans will be under your Requests tab until you pick them up and then under your Loans tab while you have them checked out on your Penn library account.

How many requests may I submit?

A maximum of 5 requests will be processed per person per day, depending on staffing and overall request volume.

How quickly do requests arrive?

Turnaround time for journal articles requested through Interlibrary Loan is typically 2-5 business days, and for books 7-14 days depending upon the lender's location. For faster book delivery, try E-ZBorrow or BorrowDirect first.

Can I renew my Interlibrary Loan requests?

Interlibrary Loan books are checked out on your Penn library account with a loan period of 12 weeks, no renewalsPlease note: late fines of $1/day will apply.

I can't find an answer to my Interlibrary Loan question.  What should I do?

Contact the Interlibrary Loan office at your home library or email the main Van Pelt Library Interlibrary Loan office at