Skip to main content

Getting Items from other Libraries: Interlibrary Loan and Universal Borrowing

If you need an item that is not owned by the UW-Madison, there are other options to explore. Universal Borrowing allows borrowing from other UW campuses, and Interlibrary Loan allows borrowing from other libraries. Make smarter requests with this guide!

Using the Universal Borrowing System

UW System Search: This link enables you to search the entire University of Wisconsin Library System. 

The catalog is very similar to the UW-Madison search, but includes items from all the other campuses in it's search as well.  For a guided tutorial on how to use the search, watch the video that is located under the Universal Borrowing (UB) Requests tab. 

Universal Borrowing Policies and FAQs

Who can use Universal Borrowing?

How long does it take to get my item?

How long can I keep my Universal Borrowing item?

Can I renew Universal Borrowing items?

Where can I pick up Universal Borrowing items?

How will I know when my Universal Borrowing item is ready to be picked up?

What if my request is cancelled?  What does that mean?

Are there overdue fines or lost charges for Universal Borrowing items?

How can I keep track of what Universal Borrowing items I have checked out?

What if I can't find the item I want in either the UW-Madison Catalog or the Universal Borrowing Catalog?

Who can use Universal Borrowing?

All University of Wisconsin Students, Faculty and Staff can request items from other UW-campuses.  All that is required is your NetId (for the new Library Catalog) OR your 16 digit barcode that is found on your Wiscard (for the old MadCat catalog). 

How long does it take to get my item?

There are a variety of factors that determine how quickly an item is delivered.  It depends on if the item is on the shelf, how often our delivery system picks up the requests, and how many requests the library is receiving that day.  The library staff always strives to make your items available as quickly as possible, and most Universal Borrowing Requests are ready within a week of the request.  If you have questions about a particular item that seems to be taking longer than usual, call our circulation desk at 262-1128 or email us at circ@law.wisc.edu.

How long can I keep my Universal Borrowing item?

Universal Borrowing items are checked out for the same amount of time as UW-Madison items.  Graduate students (including Law students) can check out books for a semester loan.  For example, if you check a book out on September 23rd, you would have that book until December 30th.  The only exception is if the book is recalled by another person.  This changes the due date to two weeks from the date of the recall.  

Can I renew Universal Borrowing items?

Yes!  You can renew Universal Borrowing items twice, as long as nobody else is recalling it. 

Where can I pick up Universal Borrowing items?

You can choose which location you would like to pick up your items.  The Law Circ Desk is the most common location for law students and staff.  All holds are kept behind the circulation desk once they are received.  The circulation desk is located on the fifth floor of the law school library, right near the entrance. 

How will I know when my Universal Borrowing item is ready to be picked up?

Once an item is ready to be picked up, you will receive a notification email.  Remember, we will hold your request for one week!  If the item is not picked up within that time, we will send it back to the owning library, or on to the next person on the request list.  If you cannot pick up the request within a week, email us at circ@law.wisc.edu and we may be able to accommodate you. 

What if my request is cancelled?  What does that mean?

A request can be cancelled for a number of reasons.  The item may not be available, or it may be missing.  If you requested an item that was currently checked out, then perhaps the item was not returned in a timely manner.  If your request is cancelled, then you will receive an email notification explaining why it was cancelled.  You can either re-request the item, try to get the item via interlibrary loan, or email circ@law.wisc.edu for help or clarification.

Are there overdue fines or lost charges for Universal Borrowing items?

Yes, Universal Borrowing items can accrue overdue fines.  The charges are the same as for UW-Madison items.  Lost items will be assessed by the owning library and the patron is responsible for these charges.

How can I keep track of what Universal Borrowing items I have checked out?

Your Library Catalog account is the place to check for what items you have checked out, as well as their due dates.  You can also renew items there, and see what items you have requested.  To log in, go to the UW Madison Libraries homepage, and click on "my accounts" in the top right hand corner.  Once you have entered your NetId and password, you can review your account.  If you have questions, please email us at circ@law.wisc.edu.

What if I can't find the item I want in either the UW-Madison Catalog or the Universal Borrowing Catalog?

If you cannot find the item you need in the UW system, then it is time to request an interlibrary loan.  Click on the "Interlibrary Loan Requests" tab above to watch a video tutorial on how to make your request.