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 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

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?

  • Go to the  MnLINK Gateway.
  • Click Login on the left hand side of the page.
  • Enter your library card number in the Library Barcode/User ID field.
  • Leave PIN/Password empty.
  • 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?

Basic Search: searches keywords (author, title, subject, etc.)

Advanced Search: search specific fields -- "Title", "Author", "Subject Heading", etc. -- and 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.

MnLINK searches each library catalog in the state. 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?

The 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.

When you find an item that looks like what you want, click Details on the right-hand side of the listing to see more information. If the record looks like what 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 put it on hold for you, and ship it to your chosen pickup location. Interlibrary loan requests usually take 1 - 4 weeks.

New searches and checking requests

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 need help or have any further questions, please contact the library.