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Circulation: Books by Mail

Books by Mail

See the Libraries' COVID-19 page for the latest updates on library services.

Register and request via Books by Mail to have Penn material shipped to your home address.  If you prefer to pick up books at the Van Pelt Library please use our  Pickup@Penn service.

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries are currently closed to patrons.  Requests for electronic articles and book chapters can be submitted via Request Digital Delivery.  To expedite delivery, please submit no more than one book chapter per request.  Requests for copies of entire books should be submitted via purchase request:

What is books by mail?

Books By Mail is a service offered to Penn students, faculty and staff to facilitate their research. Participants will be able to request delivery of on-shelf Penn Libraries circulating books via insured carrier to their homes. Biddle Law Library materials are not included in the service.

Items on reserve are excluded, as are journals, reference and other non-circulating materials. During the Covid-19 closure, certain materials MAY be mailed that are normally restricted. Music CD's and DVD's may be requested during this period. 

Who is eligible for books by mail?

The service is available to students, faculty and staff within the United States and Canada.

Patrons with disabilities should contact Susan Shapiro in the Office of Student Disabilities Services to inquire about eligibility.

How do you communicate about books by mail?

All circulation notices will be handled via email.

How do you register for books by mail?

Current Penn students, faculty and staff must register before making requests. You may REGISTER ONLINE. Upon receipt of the registration form, library staff will determine eligibility and reply within three business days.

Are there delivery restrictions with books by mail?

The library will send materials via insured carrier UPS. Therefore, users must provide a street address and may not use a post office or similar drop box for library book requests. Please provide this information even if you only plan to request electronic delivery.

Are there costs associated with books by mail?

The library will pay for shipping books to users. Users must pay for the return shipment via insured carrier such as USPS, UPS or Federal Express. There is no cost for electronic article/chapter delivery.

How do you request delivery?

Once the registration is approved, users may request materials by using the BOOKS BY MAIL option in our online catalog, Franklin. Only materials from circulating collections, and only those with the status "Available" may be requested using the Books By Mail request choice. Books charged out to other users may not be requested through Books By Mail.

 Do you need to use books by mail to request an article or chapter from a book?

You no longer need to register with Books by Mail to receive electronic delivery of selected articles and book chapters. Use the Scan and Deliver option in the Franklin record REQUEST IT menu for electronic delivery of selected articles and book chapters of 50 pages or less from the Penn Libraries collections.

**Please do not order ILL, BorrowDirect or EZ-Borrow books and request scanning from Books by Mail.**

Are there restrictions associated with books by mail?

Participants in Books By Mail are subject to the same loan policies and fine rates as other users on campus. Users who become delinquent, whether through fine blocks, overdue recalled blocks, or other reasons, will be unable to access the request menu to request delivery. Users must observe due dates, renewing or returning materials on time (including shipping time), and must return recalled items promptly.

What is the books by mail procedure?

Requested materials will be checked out to the user, then shipped via insured carrier. Library staff will send prompt email messages regarding any material that cannot be located or that, because of size or condition, cannot be shipped.

Please return to:

Van Pelt Circulation

University of Pennsylvania Libraries

3420 Walnut Street

Philadelphia PA 19104-6206

You may also return materials to the Van Pelt Library outside ground floor book drop to the right of the main entrance.



Contact us at the Van Pelt Library Interlibrary Loan office:

Email Us:
For Books by Mail:

Call Us:
215-746-1714 (Sheila Ketchum)