Requests must be related to your research, teaching, study, or employment at Caltech. For requests outside of this, visit our library Q&A for help.

LOGIN to DocuServe - To access account to make requests, renew, or retrieve electronically delivered requests (requires IMSS authentication).

What is DocuServe?

DocuServe is Caltech Library's delivery service available to Caltech faculty, students, and staff for information resources they cannot locate. The DocuServe office is located at room #124 in the Sherman Fairchild Library.  You can reach them by phone at 626-395-6437 or by email at docuserve [at]

Services available through DocuServe:

  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a service through which you can request materials, such as books, journal articles, book chapters, theses, or media that are not available in the Caltech Library. There is no charge for requesting an article, book, or book chapter the Caltech Library does not have. However, for certain items, like patents, standards, theses (we cannot borrow), you will be charged the cost to acquire that item. Once the item arrives, you will be notified via email, and you can check out the request at Sherman Fairchild Library (SFL) Circulation Desk. Articles and book chapters will be accessible through email.  However, some items might be difficult to obtain from other libraries, such as:
    • Reference materials
    • Textbooks
    • Whole volumes or issues of periodicals
    • Audiovisual materials
    • Rare, fragile or archival materials
    • Multi-volume sets
    • Patents
    • Recently published materials

DocuServe utilizes a number of resource sharing partners and vendors to provide access to materials not immediately available through Caltech Library's subscriptions or collections. Based on our most recent assessment, 30% of article requests are fulfilled in less than 12 hours, approximately 66% are fulfilled within 24 hours, and 80% within 48 hours (see figure).

  • RUSH Delivery Service is similar to interlibrary loan but utilizes a 3rd party to provide access to journal articles within minutes. The immediacy of access is good for evenings and weekends when DocuServe is not rapidly available. Each faculty, student, and staff have ten free RUSH-delivery requests per academic year. On the eleventh RUSH-delivery request, you will be charged $15.
  • Document Delivery delivers materials to Caltech faculty, students, and staff. While ILL obtains materials the Caltech Library does not own, Document Delivery is a service which electronically delivers articles, book chapters, conference papers, or similar materials to you as a matter of convenience. There is no charge for use of this service.
  • Digital reformatting (from paper or microform) is another service offered by DocuServe. Pricing for this service varies based on the item. Please contact DocuServe for more information (docuserve [at] OR 626-395-6437).

Create your DocuServe account

  • The first time you log into DocuServe, you will see the new user registration form.
  • Enter all information as requested.
  • Click "Submit Information"
  • After entering your information, you will need to supply payment information. For most requests, you will not be charged but there are some items that do require a billing account in order to process (see Items/Price List). We request you include your billing account information (either your UID or a PTA) when registering for the first time. DocuServe staff will always contact you for permission before processing a request that will result in a charge exceeding $20.00.
  • You will now be able to make a book or article request through DocuServe.
  • For more information on this, please contact DocuServe (626-395-6437 or docuserve AT

Making Requests

  • Before placing a request, search the Caltech Library catalog (for books, articles, and reports), Web of Science, JSTOR, or another database to verify if the Library does not own or have access to the material you are requesting. If it is not available through the Caltech Library, you can also try searching 1science OA findr. It might be openly available on the web.
  • There are two ways to submit a request but both require prior registration to DocuServe (see "Create your DocuServe account" for more information):

A. Requests may be submitted directly through DocuServe if you have the citation information.

  • Login to your DocuServe account
  • Use the Main Menu/New Request options to select the type of request you would like to make. If you are unclear on the type of item, you can select "Help" and complete the web form. We will respond as soon as possible.

  • Fill in all required fields on the request form. Any extra information provided will make it easier to process your request, so please add as much descriptive data as possible in the appropriate fields. If you have a DOI, you can submit a request that way.
  • Click "Submit Request" to complete your request

B. Article requests may also be submitted through any CaltechConnect-enabled database, including Web of Science, WorldCat (OCLC), PubMed, and GeoRef.

  • When reviewing the Caltech Connect services for an article, a number of options may be available, including "DocuServe it (always free)."
  • Click on this option and a DocuServe request window will appear with most of the appropriate citation fields already popoulated. You need only click "Submit Request" to complete the request.
  • The RUSH it (first 10 free) option may also appear. Articles requested through this option should be delivered within minutes. Please note, for each academic year, you can make 10 RUSH delivery requests at no charge. Beginning with the 11th RUSH delivery request, a $15 charge will be applied to your account unless otherwise indicated. Visit the Rush delivery website for more information.


NOTE: While we prefer searching the library's holdings to determine if the article is directly accessible, we understand it can be a time-consuming endeavor.   If you have a list of articles with full citations, you can email this list to docuserve [at] (subject: List%20of%20requested%20articles) .  We will create individual requests for each article.  Thorough citations will ensure minimal delay in obtaining this articles for you.

Tracking Requests

  • You can track current DocuServe requests from the main menu page. There you will find "Outstanding Requests," Retrieve PDFs," and current "Checked Out Items."
  • In addition, you can select other options:
    • Cancelled Requests - lists all DocuServe requests that have been cancelled. You may edit and resubmit requests from this page.
    • Fulfilled Requests - lists all completed requests.
    • All Requests - lists all DocuServe requests ever submitted by the user, regardless of the current status of the request.
    • Notifications - lists all emails sent from DocuServe to the user.

Retrieving Requests

  • Once a request has been filled, you will receive an email notifying you that the item is ready.
  • Articles and book chapters - Most articles and book chapters will be posted as PDF files to your DocuServe account. To access them, login to your DocuServe account, under the "Retrieve PDFs," you will see the available requests. Please note: once a PDF file is posted to your account, it will only be accessible for 30 days.
  • Books, microfilm, and other physical materials - Books and other physical materials will be available to pick up at the circulation desk at the Sherman Fairchild Library, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Please note, for if picking up microfilm requests, the microfilm readers/scanners are on the first floor of the Sherman Fairchild Library. We also provide assistance from 8a-5p, Monday through Friday, for those unfamiliar on how to use the microfilm readers. Faculty, staff, graduate students, and Post-docs may be eligible for campus delivery for these items. Please see the Campus Delivery page for more information.
  • Theses - Theses from other institutions could be delivered as a PDF like an article or the lending library could ship the physical copy. The email notification will explain if the request thesis can be downloaded as a PDF or must be picked up at Sherman Fairchild Library.

Renewing Requests

  • Login to your DocuServe account and under the Checked Out Items, select any material you currently have checked out to you.
  • If a renewal request is allowed, you will have the option to click on Renew Request.
  • DocuServe will contact the lending library and request an extension.
  • Renewals are granted solely at the discretion of the lending library and are not guaranteed.
  • The Library recommends submitting a renewal request before the due date.

Items/Price List

  • Articles, book chapters, conference papers, and Books
    • There is no charge for these items, regardless if the item comes from another library or is available within the Caltech Library holdings.
  • Theses, Patents, Technical Reports, and Standards
    • No charge if available in the Caltech Library collections. However, if requested, copying from microforms is charged at 20¢ per page. A self-service microform reader/scanner (1st floor of Sherman Fairchild Library) is also available for use.
    • Book loan charges will apply for any thesis borrowed from other universities. You may purchase some theses from universities in the United States from Dissertation Express ( and charge them to your credit card. Or, we can purchase them on your behalf and charge them to your Caltech billing account. Prices vary depending on format. We will contact you with the quoted price if you choose this method.
    • Technical reports from other universities, for-profit corporations, and government agencies have widely varying costs. If the cost exceeds $20.00, we will contact you to authorize the cost before we proceed with ordering the item you need.
    • Patents normally cost between $6.50 and $20.00. You will be contacted to authorize any cost in excess of $20.00 before we proceed with ordering the patent you need.
    • Standards are not normally available to borrow. You will be contacted to authorize the cost before we proceed with ordering the standard you need.

Additional DocuServe Services

  • Photocopying/Printing
    • Photocopying and printing through DocuServe is available to Caltech students, faculty, and staff. The cost is 10¢ per page for black and white and 20¢ per page for color.
    • For departmental copying or printing requests which require a special paper stock or size other than 8x11", please contact DocuServe (docuserve [at] for more information.
    • There are self-service available photocopiers/printers available. Find more information here. The cost for self-service printing/copying is also 10¢ per page for black and white and 20¢ per page for color.
  • Microfilm Reformatting
    • Self-service microform scanner/reader is located on the 1st floor of the Sherman Fairchild Library. Non-Caltech users must make prior arrangements to use this equipment. Please contact DocuServe staff for assistance (docuserve [at] or 626-395-6437).
    • Microform to paper or digital format by library staff: 20¢ per page
    • Self-service, microfiche to paper copying (Caltech patrons only): 10¢ per page
  • Digital Reformatting
    • Scan papers/books (copyright restrictions may apply) to a digital format by library staff
    • Contact DocuServe for pricing (626-395-6437 or docuserve [at]

Information for Borrowing Institutions (ILL)

  • California sales tax is charged where applicable
  • Reciprocal agreements with other colleges, universities, and public and government agencies take priority over these standard prices.
  • Book Loans
    • For non-reciprocal or consortial partners, processing fee per item from the Caltech collection - $15 (includes shipping)
  • Photocopying
    • Processing fee per item - $15 (includes shipping), plus a charge per sheet (8½"x11" - 30¢; other sizes - 40¢)
  • Additional Services
    • Rush Service (within 24 hours) - $20 surcharge per request. (Every effort will be made to expedite a rush order including receiving the request by OCLC or phone, and priority handling.)
    • Emergency Service (1-2 hours) - $30 surcharge per request. (All processing expedited immediately upon receipt of request by OCLC or phone.)
    • Microform Copies - Prices quoted upon request
    • Ph.D. Theses – Caltech no longer loan Ph.D. theses, but many are available electronically free of charge (CaltechTHESIS). If the thesis you need has not yet been digitized, we will do so on a priority basis. If the author agrees to make his/her thesis globally available, we will contact you as soon as the thesis is ready to be viewed/downloaded. If we do not have permission to release a thesis, it is normally possible to purchase a copy from Dissertation Express (

For more information, visit our DocuServe FAQ or email docuserve [at] (DocuServe) or call (626-395-6437).