Interlibrary Loans

The Thunder Bay Public Library offers a huge collection of items available for you to borrow, but unfortunately we cannot carry absolutely everything!  If you want to borrow an item we don’t have in our library catalogue, you can suggest that we purchase it or you can try out our interlibrary loan service.  Interlibrary loans allow libraries to share materials.  If the Thunder Bay Public Library does not own a copy of what you are looking for, we can try to borrow it from other lending libraries in Canada.  Interlibrary loan saves libraries money by helping them provide the books and resources people want without having to buy every item.  This also helps small and rural libraries offer their patrons the same access to resources that larger cities can offer. 

Interlibrary loans is facilitated by the Ontario Library Service. As of April 1, 2021 Ontario Library Service North (OLS-North) and Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) have amalgamated to become the Ontario Library Service, which encourages and supports the collaboration and networking that is the core of a successful public library sector in Ontario.  They want to showcase the strength and diversity of each public library.

What kind of materials can be ordered through interlibrary loan you might ask?  We make requests to borrow books, photocopies of journal articles that are not available in our databasesaudiobooks, DVDs that are not in high demand, and microfilm reels from the provincial archives.  We don’t borrow any materials that are newer than 6 months, but you can submit a suggestion for us to purchase a copy for our library collection by calling us at 345-8275 or by submitting an online request at

Books can accumulate a considerable amount of wear and tear over time. Books that are beyond repair are often removed from our collection.  Sometimes, the titles that we have to remove are no longer in print and cannot be reordered for our collection. This is when interlibrary loan is particularly handy.  If we don’t have an older title from one of your favourite authors we will try to borrow a copy.  If it is part of a series and we are missing one from the set,  don’t despair, try interlibrary loan. Many libraries have expanded their lending policies to include audiobooks and DVDs that are not in high demand.

Doing some research? If you need a specific journal article that the library does not carry in either print or electronic format, we can try and get you a copy.

Interlibrary loans can be requested at any branch of the Thunder Bay Public library, by phone,  or online through our website at    All you need is a valid library card.  This service is free of charge.  Generally you can expect to wait anywhere from two to six weeks for an item to arrive. Libraries in Canada are able to send books through Canada Post using a special rate called the Library Materials Rate, which provides low cost shipping and returns for library material.  A staff member will call or email you when the item arrives.  Due dates are determined by the lending library, and items can be renewed if they allow it.  Renewal requests should be submitted a week prior to the due date.

If you need a library card, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or at the phone number listed above during our hours of operation. We’re offering curbside service Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and we’d love to get you set up to start borrowing!

Vivien Haberern  – If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you.

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