Using-ILL-art – 11/9/03
"Interlibrary Loan" by Aelfwynn of Whitby.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
by Aelfwynn of Whitby
What is interlibrary loan?
Interlibrary loan (ILL) is wonderful tool that will help you get materials that your library doesn't have. Libraries loan each other books that aren't in their local collection. Most public and academic libraries, as well as many special libraries participate in this program.
How does it work?
Your library looks in a database to find which library has the book or journal you want and asks them to send it. In a week or two it'll arrive and you'll get to check it out, just like it had been at your own library. You can also request journal articles.
How long does it take?
That depends. If your book or journal is fairly popular, it may take as little as a week or two. If it more rare it may take over a month. For very rare titles, it may take several months.
Why does it take so long?
First, the librarian has to look in a database to find the book you want. She may have to look a quite a few, depending on the resources that library has. Also, very few libraries have someone solely dedicated to interlibrary loan. She has other duties to perform that may take precedence over ILL. Another factor may be that the ILL office is very busy and there are many requests ahead of yours.
Once the librarian has found the book you want, she has to see if the other library will loan it. Not all libraries that participate will loan books out. Some will only make photocopies.
If the other library is willing to send the book, they have to find it and then ship it out. If it has been checked out, they may have to wait a few weeks or longer until it comes back in.
So, if the librarian working on interlibrary loan has plenty of time, and the book is in the library and everything else goes quickly, you could get your book in about two weeks or sooner. On the other hand, it could take several months, because it could be on hold for a class at the other library and you have to wait until the semester is over. Or it could be such a rare book, that no one is willing to loan it or the librarian can't find it.
How long can I keep the material?
Most ILLs are loaned for slightly longer than a regular checkout period. You may get to keep your book for as long as four weeks. Check with your library to determine the exact length of time you get to keep it. You want to make certain you get your books back on time, because overdue fines for ILL materials are often higher than regular fines. If you receive a photocopy, it is usually yours to keep.
Why can't I take the book home with me?
Occasionally, you will request a book that is very rare or only available on microform. In these cases you will only be allowed to use the material in the library. This is to protect the book from being accidentally damaged.
Why can't you renew ILLs?
Most ILLs can't be renewed because they belong to another library. Often they are loaned for a longer period that a regular checkout to begin with. Since they belong to another library, you need to use them quickly so they can get back to their home library. It is not unusual for a library to receive several requests for the same book, so you need to get it back so the next person on the list can check it out.
Sometimes you will be able to renew the item. Check on the ILL slip included with the book, to find this out.
Why does it cost money?
The charges for ILL vary between institutions. Some places don't charge, and others have a minimal charge. This charge covers the postage or the photocopying. It depends on the lending library's policy.
Why am I limited to a certain number of ILLs at a time?
Some library systems only allow you to have in a few ILL requests at a time. This is to keep a few individuals from tying up the entire system. As I discussed earlier, it can take quite a long time to locate and obtain the books. Limiting everyone to a few requests at a time ensures that everyone is being served, rather than one person monopolizing the system and no one else getting anything.
How do I request something through ILL?
Most libraries require that you go to the library and fill out a form. You will need the basic bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, and date) as well as your contact information. When the item comes in you will be notified.
What can I request through ILL?
That depends. Most local systems have some basic rules of things they won't get through ILL. This usually includes books that are currently on order, best sellers, and reference books, as well as books that are heavily used at local colleges. The length of photocopies may also be limited. Check with your local system for their specifics.
Interlibrary Loan page, viewed May 29, 2003. Montgomery County Library System, Montgomery County, MD.
Alexandria Library, Interlibrary Loan page, viewed May 29, 2003. Alexandria Library System, Alexandria, VA.
Library Services FCPL, viewed May 29, 2003. Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, VA.
Copyright 2003 by Michelle McDaniel, 8126 Crabapple Lane, Gaithersburg, MD 20879. <librarian314 (at) comcast.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.