Overview and History

BorrowDirect is an unmediated library resource sharing partnership encompassing thirteen Ivy Plus academic institutions supplying over 275,000 books, music scores, and other returnable library items per year. BorrowDirect went live in the fall of 1999 after a four year planning and development period during which the three founding institutions, Columbia, Penn, and Yale, partnered with the Research Libraries Group (RLG) for project management and assessment. The BorrowDirect Partnership expanded to seven member libraries in 2002 with the addition of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Princeton.  In 2004, the Partnership exceeded 100,000 transactions for the first time. The Partnership grew to include Harvard and MIT in 2011. BorrowDirect added one library a year starting in 2013 with the University of Chicago followed by Johns Hopkins, Duke University, and Stanford. Since its inception, BorrowDirect has successfully filled more than 3 million user requests and counting.

How it works

BorrowDirect offers library users the ability to search and request research material from a federated union catalog of approximately 90 million volumes. Real time shelf status and a load leveling algorithm distribute requests evenly across the Partnership, and expedited delivery ensures a 3-5 day turnaround for all requests. Making use of NISO standards, BorrowDirect integrates with the disparate library systems to provide local circulation of borrowed material and integrated resource management throughout the lifecycle of the transaction.

What we do

BorrowDirect growth and expansion over the years:


What it means to patrons in the Partnership

BorrowDirect offers the breadth and depth of the Ivy Plus Libraries' collective collections to faculty, students, and staff from a single, simple search interface. The intelligent availability logic quickly determines the most efficient provider of each item.  The speed of delivery, exceptionally high fill rate, and sixteen week loan period offer users a consistent, seamless requesting experience that has established BorrowDirect as a core library service across the Partnership.

Additional readings

  • Peter Collins, (2012) "Fear and loathing in cooperative collection development", Interlending & Document Supply, Vol. 40 Issue: 2, pp.100 – 104.
  • Danuta A. Nitecki, Carol L. Jones, (2004) "Borrow Direct: its impact on service quality at Yale University Library", Interlending & Document Supply, Vol. 32 Issue: 3, pp.146 – 151.
  • Krall, R. (2000). “Get It Fast, and Get It Cheap'--What's an ILL librarian to do?” American Libraries, Vol. 31 Issue: 10, pp. 41 - 42.