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Books by Mail


Books By Mail is a service offered to Penn graduate students and faculty members to facilitate their research while living 75 miles or more away from campus. Eligible participants will be able to request delivery of on-shelf Penn Libraries circulating materials via insured carrier to their homes. Biddle Law Library materials are not included in the service.

Items on reserve, Bestsellers, Interlibrary Loan, BorrowDirect and E-ZBorrow materials, VHS, DVD's, music CD's, and other short-loan items are excluded, as are journals, reference and other non-circulating materials. Articles or chapters of 50 pages or less from on-shelf Penn materials will be scanned and delivered electronically.


The service is available to registered graduate students and to faculty with continuing appointments who live more than 75 miles from Philadelphia within the United States and Canada.

Electronic article/chapter delivery is available worldwide. Patrons with disabilities should contact Susan Shapiro in the Office of Student Disabilities Services to inquire about eligibility.


All circulation notices will be handled via email.


Graduate students and faculty must register before making requests. You may register online. Upon receipt of the registration form, library staff will determine eligibility and reply within three business days.

Delivery Restrictions

The library will send materials via insured carrier UPS. Therefore, users must provide a street address and may not use a post office or similar drop box for library book requests. Please provide this information even if you only plan to request electronic delivery.


The library will pay for shipping books to users. Users must pay for the return shipment via UPS or Federal Express. There is no cost for electronic article/chapter delivery.

Requesting Book Delivery

Once the registration is approved, users may request materials by using the "Request it (PennKey)" option in Franklin. Only materials from circulating collections, and only those with the status "Available" may be requested using the Books By Mail request choice. Books charged out to other users may not be requested through Books By Mail, but users may recall the items using the Recall option, explaining why they need the Penn copy, and email us when they are notified of the item's availability.

Electronic article/chapter delivery

Books by Mail will fill requests for articles or book chapters of 50 pages or less from on-shelf Penn materials. Use the comment field to enter the article/chapter title, author and paging. Journal articles at LIBRA should continue to be requested using the "Get an article copy from LIBRA" option.

NOTE: If no request option is presented in a Franklin record, please email your citation directly to Books by Mail staff at

**Please do not order ILL, BorrowDirect or EZ-Borrow books and request scanning from Books by Mail.**


Participants in Books By Mail are subject to the same loan policies and fine rates as other users on campus. Users who become delinquent, whether through fine blocks, overdue recalled blocks, or other reasons, will be unable to access the request menu to request delivery. Users must observe due dates, renewing or returning materials on time (including shipping time), and must return recalled items promptly.


Requested materials will be checked out to the user, then shipped via insured carrier. Library staff will send prompt email messages regarding any material that cannot be located or that, because of size or condition, cannot be shipped. The library will include an information sheet with each shipment covering return procedures, including a return mailing label.

Questions/more information

If you have any questions or comments about the service, please first contact Books by Mail staff. Or, contact Sheila Ketchum, Van Pelt Library, at 215-746-1714 or Sheila Ketchum.