Frequently Asked Questions about SourceFinder @ Steely Library

SourceFinder Patron Accounts Logon

SourceFinder Frequently Asked Questions

User Registration

Requesting items via SourceFinder

After submitting a SourceFinder request

After Items have arrived

Computer Issues

SourceFinder Frequently Asked Questions

What is SourceFinder?

SourceFinder is W. Frank Steely Libraryís service for obtaining articles, books, and media not available in our collections. Steely purchases and licenses many materials, and SourceFinder works to extend those collections outside Steely's collections.
This free service is available to NKU students, faculty, and staff. Limited SourceFinder services are available to NKU alumni and retirees. Using a variety of options, SourceFinder works to find materials not owned by Steely Library and extend our collections, and access to information and resources.

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How do I use SourceFinder?

In order to use SourceFinder, register for a patron account through ILLiad, the software used to submit and track all requests.
Notifications will be recieved in your email account, but you can also track them when logged into your SourceFinder ILLiad account. Through ILLiad, you will be able to submit requests, download electronic materials, view notifications.
Requests for books, theses/dissertations, media, music scores, scholarly articles, patents, white papers, reports, and more may be submitted.

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What is the difference between Interlibrary Loan and Information Brokerage?

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan is a service provided to all NKU affiliates. ILL is a method libraries use to borrow and lend information and items
on behalf of patrons in order to provide better access to information. A method of library collaboration, ILL is one of many services SourceFinder provides for Steely patrons.
When ILL provides a loan, these items must be returned.
Some materials might be hard to find, such as rare materials may be difficult to receive via interlibrary loan or take a longer time frame, such as fragile international items.
Contact us if you have questions. We encourage you to submit requests.

All requests must comply with the copyright law of the United States, and when applicable, international copyright law.
Requests also must comply with license and embargo obligations and restrictions of lending libraries.

Restrictions due to license policy or law may apply:

  • copyright
  • Usage restrictions- in-library use only
  • No renewals
  • Item may be fragile
  • Short loan period

Information Brokerage

Information Brokerage service picks up where interlibrary loan stops for NKU faculty, staff, and students.
If an item cannot be obtained through interlibrary loan within a reasonable time period, the request is transferred by the SourceFinder team to Information Brokerage. These items are purchased.

Restrictions may apply:

Articles:W. Frank Steely Library will purchase unlimited articles.

Physical Items: W. Frank Steely Library will purchase requested items to be added to the W. Frank Steely Library Collection if the item costs less than $100. Each user is limited to 7 Information Brokerage requests per fiscal year.
After user limit has been reached, similar requests will be processed through interlibrary loan services.

Users do not need to specify interlibrary loan or information brokerage.

Formats included are: physical books, media, scores, theses and dissertations, film, microfilm, and more.

Questions? Contact us at

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How do I contact the SourceFinder staff?

You can contact us through email at or by phone at 859-572-6143

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User Registration

Who may register?

All current NKU faculty, staff, students with a valid NKU email address can register for a SourceFinder account.
NKU Alumni and Retirees are eligible for accounts as well. On campus and distance learning students are welcome.
Please note: Registrants must not have Steely Library fines exceeding $20.
If you register and you have fines, once you pay them, we can complete your registration.
NKU Distance Learners can also create an account, but must register as a "Distance Learner," whether they are a graduate or an undergraduate student.
Note: Chase Law School faculty and students should use Chase Library interlibrary loan.

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What about Distance Learning Students?

The SourceFinder team will verify your status as a Distance Learner before we confirm your account.
To qualify as a Distance Learner, ALL of your classes must be taken over the web or at a location outside the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. Since we mail items to our distance learner patrons, we verify distance learners before mailing each loan to the address. We verify that (a) their status is an enrolled distance learner at Northern Kentucky University and (b) their mailing address is correct. In order to receive this service, patrons MUST be officially enrolled at Northern Kentucky University and they MUST be enrolled in online only courses.

Requests for items will be sent to Distance Learners via U.S. mail. Requests for articles will be filled electronically. Distance Learners are asked to abide by the rules of W. Frank Steely Library and will accrue fines on overdue materials. Distance Learners are sent items directly from W. Frank Steely Library and are provided a pre-paid postage stamped envelope to return their items on time.

Please provide extra time for this service. Typically, articles are delivered to your computer within 2-4 business days. Books and media owned by W. Frank Steely Library will be shipped within 2 business days of the request. Items not owned by Steely Library will take, on average, an additional 7 to 10 days. If you have additional questions regarding your SourceFinder Distance Learner borrowing privileges, please contact us.

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What about Alumni and Retirees?

NKU Alumni and Retirees have access to interlibrary loan services through SourceFinder.
Items or articles which W. Frank Steely Library has to pay for cannot be provided for aulumi and retirees.
Please be sure to indicate your status as a NKU Alumni/Retiree when creating your SourceFinder account.

All statuses will be confirmed.

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Why do I need to register?

  • To request materials and information through SourceFinder and use ILLiad.
  • To verify your user status
  • To track your requests/materials online
  • To retrieve requested articles through your SourceFinder account (electronically received materials)
  • To provide the SourceFinder team with your contact information
  • To update your contact information

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How do I register?

Go to ILLiad and register as a first time user.

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Why would my registration be cancelled?

  • Your user status cannot be confirmed
  • You have fines on account with W. Frank Steely Library. Note: Once you have paid your overdues, please contact us to clear your account.
  • No NKU email address is provided. For retirees and alumni, no clear email is provided.

Every registration submitted is researched by the SourceFinder team to confirm current student/staff/faculty status.
All NKU retirees, alumni and distance learners are confirmed. Please indicate correctly your status when you register.
All Distance Learners, either undergraduate or graduate, should choose "Distance Learner" as their status.

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Why do you need my NKU ISO or Employee number?

The SourceFinder team uses your NKU ISO number to verify your eligibility for SourceFinder services.
Your ISO number is located on your NKU All-Card, and your Employee ID number can be found on through your account in SAP.

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Why do I need a username and password?

Your username and password will provide you secure access to information about your SourceFinder requests and account. Your personal account allows you 24 hour access to your requests and immediate information regarding your itemís status. Your username can be anything you like, such as your name, abbreviations, or an alphanumeric code. Your password can also be anything you like.
Note: We recommend that you follow good security practice and choose an alphanumeric password that is different for other ones. SourceFinder personnel will not have access to your password.

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Why do I have to use my NKU email address?

To avoid any breaks in communication with SourceFinder, your official NKU email account is required. All SourceFinder official communication will be sent to your email address.
NKU Alumni and retirees may use a Non-NKU email address. You can choose to forward your NKU email to an off-campus service, but if this forwarding fails, you are still responsible for those communications.
See for more details.

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Requesting items via SourceFinder

Tips and Tricks before placing SourceFinder Requests

Books and Media

  • Check the library catalog to verify that NKU does not hold the item you need.
  • Use the WorldCat database to fill your request form more promptly and accurately.


  • Check the Journals: links to full text articles.
  • Check our databases for articles and citation abstracts


  • Titles that are textbooks available for purchase at the NKU bookstore are at this time not available through SourceFinder.

Theses and Dissertaions

These simple steps will save time for you and assure timely delivery of your request.

  • Requests for books, theses/dissertations, media, music scores, scholarly articles, patents, white papers, reports, and more may be submitted.

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How do I request items?

  • Log into SourceFinder
  • Select the appropriate resource form for your request.
  • Submit your manually entered request
  • Some Steely library databases will have a SourceFinder link button. If so, use this to import your citation.
  • Click the submit button to complete your request whether using ILLiad or adding through a database.

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The book/journal I need isn't on the shelf but is available according to the library catalog or is damaged. How do I get it?

Request the item through your SourceFinder account noting the reason for requesting an item owned by W. Frank Steely Library in the notes portion of the request. The SourceFinder team will verify your note and place the request.

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My citation is incomplete; can I still request the item?

The more information you provide, the easier it is for the SourceFinder team to locate your request.
If you are unable to fill in the required citation information, ask your MyLibrarian or submit your request with the best citation you have.
For more information about our reference and research assistance please see Ask Steely Library!.

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Which material may be difficult to receive via SourceFinder?

  • entire issues of newspapers or journals
  • Some theses and dissertations
  • rare/archival materials
  • some microforms
  • foreign language titles
  • some media materials
  • items published before 1950
  • video games
  • If you are not sure, just ask us! We recomment submitting your request even if you are unsure.
  • There are plenty of items available through SourceFinder, though for each item we never know before we receive the item request.
  • Some materials are rare and hard to find, but some rare and hard to find materials can still be found!

Please note: Some media items such as films, music, and audio recordings, may be difficult to obtain. Some libraries will not lend media items through interlibrary loan
or these item may be popular and already loaned.
Please plan ahead and allow additional time for these items.
SourceFinder may be able to purchase some of these exceptional requests to add to the W. Frank Steely Library collection through our Information Brokerage service.

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What material may not be requested via SourceFinder?

Textbooks titles listed on the NKU course textbook list cannot be ordered.

Material that breaks copyright law cannot be requested. Examples include scans of full length books or pirated videos.

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How much time does it take? What is the turn-around time?

On average, interlibrary loan books, media, etc. arrive in 7 to 10 days. Items purchased via Information Brokerage arrive in approximately 10 to 17 days. Typically, most articles are delivered to your computer within 2 business days. If SourceFinder is unable to fill your request by your need-by-date, we will contact you by email.

Article requests tend to arrive much quicker, on average from 2-4 days.

If you have questions on how long an item is taking to be filled, please contact us at 859-572-6143.

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Are there limits on the number of requests?

There are no limits to the number of requests you may submit via SourceFinder. However, when you enter a large amount of requests per day, we ask that you prioritize your requests by using the Not Wanted After Date listed on the SourceFinder request form

or understand that we work on requests in the order of receipt.

During heavy traffic periods, we may require an additional business day to process these requests.
There is a limit per NKU customer as to how many items our Information Brokerage service may purchase to add to Steely Libraryís collection.

Currently, each SourceFinder customer who is an NKU student, staff, or faculty member can request up to 7 items for purchase through SourceFinder per year
as long as each item is no more than $100.

This limit applies to physical items- books, media, dissertations, scores.

There is no limit on the number of articles requests SourceFinder will fill for you.

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What does this service cost?

There is no charge to you.

W. Frank Steely Library and the SourceFinder Department will pay for your requests.
If you lose or damage an item or any part of an item (e.g. cases/ supplementary CDs) you are responsible for the replacement charges, overdues, and lost item charges.
All lending libraries have the right to implement overdue fines on items that are returned late. Please renew/return your items before their due dates.

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A Steely Library database citation says "SourceFinder Request." What does that mean?

When viewing database article citations, a "SourceFinder Request" icon or link may appear when full text is not available. By clicking this link your SourceFinder request form is filled out automatically. You will be prompted to enter your SourceFinder username and password. You must click the submit button to complete your request. If you leave SourceFinder open, you can continue to request without having to log in each time.

Should you run into errors, please email us at Please note that not all of Steely's databases will have direct links to your SourceFinder account.

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After submitting a SourceFinder request

What happens after I submit my request?

  • After you submit your request, the SourceFinder team verifies your request citation before forwarding it on for retrieval.
  • Please submit your request with as complete a citation
  • Tips and tricks to include: Citations frequently include: Item title, article or chapter title, volume, issue, year of publication
  • author, pages. Have the issn? Add it! Need a particular format type, such as print or media, mention it in the notes.
  • The SourceFinder team works on the requests.
  • Note that if your item is available with Steely library's catalog, the request will be cancelled.
  • When the item is located and reaches our library, it is processed by the SourceFinder team. Items such as books and non-print media are given due dates.
  • These items are then sent to the third floor W. Frank Steely Library Access Services desk for pick up. Media items that are selected for purchase are sent to the second floor of W. Frank Steely Library Media Services desk for pick up.
  • Articles sent electronically to SourceFinder are uploaded to a server and notification emails are sent to the requester notifying them that their article is available to view and download.
  • All requesters will receive an email or phone call notifying them of the arrival of their item or article with pick up location instructions.

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How do I find out when my requested item has arrived?

You will be notified via email or by phone when your item is available for pick up.

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Will I be notified if there's a problem?

You will be notified via email or by phone with questions regarding your request.

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How do I check the status of my request?

  • Login to your SourceFinder account
  • Your request status will be located under "Active Requests"

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What does my item status mean?

Awaiting Copyright Clearance -- Your article request has been submitted and it is awaiting copyright processing by the SourceFinder team to determine if any copyright fees need to be paid.

Awaiting Document Delivery --- Item is awaiting purchase approval from the SourceFinder team.

Awaiting Information from Customer -- An email has been sent to the requester and we are awaiting response.

Awaiting Information from Publisher -- An email/phone call has been placed with the publisher/author of the item for purchase information.

Awaiting Item from Vendor -- Item has been submitted to Acquisitions department for purchase. You can search the library catalog - NKUIRE to check the status of the order.

Awaiting Request Processing -- This requested item has been submitted by the customer and, if necessary, has gone through the copyright clearance process.

Awaiting Unfilled/Conditional Processing -- This item could not be lent by the libraries from which it was requested, or they have placed a condition on the lending of this item.

Cancelled By Customer -- The customer has cancelled this request and no longer requires the requested item.

Cancelled By SourceFinder Team -- This request has been cancelled by the SourceFinder team and the customer has been notified of the cancellation.

Checked Out to Customer -- The requested item has arrived, has been processed by the SourceFinder team, and has been checked out by the customer. Until the item's status is changed to "Item Checked In," the customer is responsible for the item.

Customer Notified via E-Mail -- The requested item has arrived, has been processed by the SourceFinder team, and the customer has been notified of its availability via e-mail.

Customer Notified via Phone -- The requested item has arrived, has been processed by the SourceFinder team, and the customer has been notified of its availability via telephone.

Delivered to Web -- The requested item has arrived, has been processed by the SourceFinder team, and has been posted to the requesting customer's personal SourceFinder page, where it may be viewed and/or downloaded electronically via Adobe Acrobat Reader.

IB Second Search -- Item is awaiting second search for contact/purchasing information from SourceFinder team.

Received Partial/Incorrect Item -- An item was received that either does not match the item that was requested or is incomplete. The SourceFinder team will determine the quickest means to correct this.

Request Finished -- The entire request process has been completed successfully.

Request Sent -- This request has been sent to potential lenders and the SourceFinder team is waiting for the item to be shipped by a lender.

Awaiting Odyssey Processing -- We have recieved an item for you electronically. It will be sent to your SourceFinder account soon.

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Why was my request cancelled?

If your request is cancelled, you will receive an email indicating one of the following reasons:

Article is available: The requested article is available at the W. Frank Steely Library, search Steely Library Catalog

Article is available as Steely Library Electronic Resource: The requested article is available electronically, search Steely Library Catalog

Cancelled by customer: Patron cancelled their own request.

Dissertation is available for free from the Steely Library Dissertation and Thesis database: This database is availble to NKU faculty, staff, and students.

Item at Steely Library: Item is on the shelf at W. Frank Steely Library.

Item is available for free from the web: Item was found for free doing a web search.

Item is available on the AtoZ database: Please search journals for a free copy of your request.

Journal article violates federal copyright guidelines: W. Frank Steely Library was unable to obtain copyright clearance.

This is a duplicate request: Two (or more) requests have been placed recently for the same item by the same person.

This text/title is not available in English: Please specify if you can receive any languages besides English.

Title appears on the NKU textbook list: We cannot order textbooks.

Too new for interlibrary loan: Most libraries will not lend current year publications.

This item has not yet been published: Please resubmit your request once it is available.

Unable to verify your request as cited: We cannot verify or find your requested item.

We are unable to fill your request by your deadline: We could not fill your request by your need-by-date.

We have exhausted all possible sources: No library or vendor is able to supply this item.

You have reached your Information Brokerage purchase limit: We have previously purchased 7 items to Steely Libraryís collection for your use, under our information brokerage program. Although there are no minimum requests associated with free interlibrary loan orders, each user is limited to five information brokerage book or media purchases per fiscal year. We were also unable to receive this item via interlibrary loan within a reasonable time.

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Note that there is often useful information in your cancellation notification!

My item is here

Where do I pick up my book, media, thesis, etc?

Most items can be picked up at the W. Frank Steely Library third floor Access Services Desk. Media items that are purchased by the library for your use must be picked up at the second floor Media Services desk. Your notification email will state where to pick up your item. You will need your NKU ID to check out materials.

  • SourceFinder materials will be available for pickup at on the third floor W. Frank Steely Library Access Services desk.
  • SourceFinder materials that are chosen for purchase for the Steely collection will be available either at the Access Services desk or the Media Collection,
  • depending on material type of the purchased item.
  • For distance learners items will be sent to your address as listed in your SourceFinder ILLIand account.
  • Electronic articles and all material delivered electronically will be avaialable through your patron account.
  • All requesters will receive an email or phone call notifying them of the arrival of their item or article with pick up location instructions.
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    Where do I pick up my article?

    You will receive an email notice when your article is available. Most articles are delivered electronically to your SourceFinder account.
    When copyright law and licensing terms necessitate it, your article will be delivered in paper at the Access Services desk.

    • For electronic items: Login to SourceFinder and click the "Electronically Received Articles" link under the "View" option.
    • A list will be displayed containing all items waiting to be viewed or downloaded.

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    What is electronic delivery?

    Many libraries are able to loan articles electronic format. Through SourceFinder, we provide electronic delivery of your requested articles in PDF format whenever possible by law.

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    There is a problem with my account or article. What do I do?

    Please contact our SourceFinder Staff at 859-572-6143 or email with your transaction number ready.

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    What is my due date?

    You can locate the due date on the label on the front of the physical item or online under the "Checked out" page when you log into SourceFinder.

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    What about overdue fines?

    SourceFinder borrowers are responsible for any fines for late returns or lost items.

    Interlibrary loan and resource sharing is a network of libraries. Respecting other libraries and returning items on time is important to our relationships so that we can continue to serve you.

    It is important to return item in the same condition as the one in which items were lent.

    SourceFinder borrowers will be notified of pending due dates and overdue items by email. Users with items that are more than 30 days overdue will be blocked from using SourceFinder.

    If an item is more than sixty days overdue, the SourceFinder team will charge a lost item fee of $125.00 to the W. Frank Steely Library account of the SourceFinder patron who has the item checked out.

    W. Frank Steely Library collection items borrowed are also subject to overdue fines when not returned on time.

    As well, users with overdues will be blocked from submitting new SourceFinder requests.

    Please help us help you and return your books and item on time!

    Please note that if your Steely Library account has more than $20.00 overdue fines, we will notify you but not clear your SourceFinder ILLiad account
    prior to payment.

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    Can I renew my item?

    Interlibrary loan renewals may be requested online through your SourceFinder account, unless otherwise noted on the label on your item.
    Renewals must be requested prior to the date your item is due.

    • Log in and click the button labeled "Renew Checked Out Items"
    • Choose the item to be renewed by clicking on the transaction number of the request. This opens a detailed information page.
    • Click the renew button. You will receive notifications verifying acceptance or denial or your renewal.
    • Some libraries allow renewals, others do not.

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    What are the restrictions on requested Interlibrary Loan items?

    Common Reasons an Interlibrary Loan may be restricted follows:

    • In-library use only
    • No renewals
    • Fragile
    • You can locate restrictions on the label on front of your item.

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    Where do I return the material?

    Please return your SourceFinder materials to the first or third floor Access Services Desk of W. Frank Steely Library.

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    Computer Problems

    What if I forget my password?

    Use the "forgot password" request for an option to reset a new encrypted password.

    If you continue to have problems, please contact Danny Lovell at 859-572-6143 or Amanda Page at 859-572-7621 for further troubleshooting.

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    What web browser should I use?

    Recently updated versions of IE, Firefox, and Chrome should all handle your ILLiad SourceFinder account as needed.

    Macs sometimes cause issues, so if you experience consist problems using your ILLiad SourceFinder account,

    please try accessing your account on a pc and then call us for assistance. We recommend the current versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox.

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    What can I do to protect my security when using a public workstation for my ILLiad SourceFinder account?

    If you are concerned about the security of your SourceFinder requests, you can take the following steps:

    • When using a public access workstation:
      1. Make sure to logon, work in your account, and log off!
      2. Delete from the history file those pages that contain your personal information.
      3. Exit from the Web browser before you leave the workstation. This prevents others from using the Back button.
      4. Clear the cache of the internet browser you've used.
      5. Log off the workstation.
      6. As well, you can always access SourceFinder from your personal computer or an otherwise secure workstation.

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    Why does my browser say that SourceFinder is sending a cookie?

    The technology that we use sends a Session ID to be stored on your machine. You can refuse this cookie and still be able to use SourceFinder without any problems.

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    What is contact information for the department?

    For borrowing questions: Contact us at
    or call Danny Lovell at 859-572-6143.

    For lending questions from other libraries: Contact us at or 859-572-6395
    For all other questions and concerns, contact Amanda Page at 859-572-7621

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