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Getting Started with Interlibrary Loan

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan is a process for obtaining books or other items that are not owned by the Saint Paul Public Library.

Thanks to cooperative lending agreements, Saint Paul Public Library customers are able to request items from libraries all over Minnesota and have them sent to their local SPPL library.

What is MnLINK?

MnLINK is a state-wide catalog that searches the individual catalogs of most of the public and academic libraries in Minnesota. It allows you to request items from nearly any library in the state.

MnLINK is available online at https://www.mnlinkgateway.org/.

When should I use Interlibrary Loan?

Use Interlibrary Loan when you would like to borrow a book or other item that is not available from the Saint Paul Public Library.

"Not available" means any item that:

  • is not listed in the catalog
  • is missing or long overdue

If your item is in the Saint Paul Public Library's circulating collection, do not request it through Interlibrary Loan. Request it through our catalog

Interlibrary Loan requests placed for items owned within the Saint Paul Public Library system will be canceled.

What do I need to sign up?

All you need is a valid Minnesota library card.

How do I begin?

Begin by opening up MnLINK in a new window, then follow these directions:

  • Click "Login" on the left hand side of the page.
  • Find the barcode number on the back of your library card and type it, without any spaces, into the box marked "Library Barcode/User ID:"
  • Leave the box marked "PIN/Password:" empty. (Saint Paul Public Library cardholders don't need a PIN.)
  • Select "St. Paul Public Library" from the drop-down menu marked "Pickup Location:".
  • Click the "Login" button.
  • Once you are signed in, start a search or click "Advanced Search" to get started.

How do I find an item I would like to request?

Searching MnLINK is similar to searching other library catalogs.

The Basic Search just searches keywords, so type in anything you like - an author, a title, a subject - and click "Search".

The Advanced Search is much more precise. It defaults to three boxes "Title" "Author" and "Subject Heading" plus options to limit your search by date, format, language and audience level. To start, it's probably best to keep it as simple as possible. You can always refine your search later if you are getting too many or too few results.

Remember that MnLINK is searching each library catalog in the state, so it may take a while for results to start appearing, and it may take several minutes for the last of the results to stop appearing.

How do I place a request?

Once MnLINK has displayed a list of search results, look them over. This results list will display the Title, Author, Format, Publisher, Publication Date and the owning library for every item in the list. There may be many duplicates, as MnLINK will provide separate search results for each different library that owns the same item.

Once you have found an item listed that looks like what you want, click on "Details" on the right-hand side of the listing to see further information about the item. If the record looks like the item you want, click "Get It!" in the upper right-hand corner of the page. This will bring up a request form, with most of the fields filled in. Choose your pick-up location, fill in any other necessary information (such as edition, volume, or disc number) and click "Request".

A confirmation number should display. This lets you know that the request has been successfully placed.

Your request will now be sent electronically to every library in the state that owns your requested item. They will each check their shelves to see if it is available, and if it is they will ship it to Saint Paul. When it arrives, we will catalog it, put it on hold for you, and ship it to your desired Pickup Location. This can take between one and four weeks.

What next?

To return to your list of search results, click "Search Results" (don't use the browser's Back button). Or, start a new search by clicking "Basic Search" or "Advanced Search".

You can check the status of your request by clicking "My Requests".

If you are finished, click "Logout".

If you have any further questions, please contact the library.