New Mexico State Library

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Interlibrary Loan Newsletter #2


ILL Policies and Procedures

We have a brand new LibGuide for Interlibrary Loan users!
Visit the guide here.

The guide covers our policies for ordering and handling ILL requests.
There is information on eligibility and registration for libraries that would like to start an account with us; as well as information on costs that you might incur, the number of request you can make at one time, notifications you should expect to receive, and information on copyright law.

It also contains some basic procedural information on how to submit requests, renewals and returns.

If you have any questions not addressed in the LibGuide please let me know. I will make sure to add it, so that this tool has everything you need.

Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States 

In order to provide guidance for Interlibrary Loan throughout the United States, the American Library Association (ALA) commissioned the Reference and User Services (RUSA) board to prepare a set of guidelines for libraries to follow that “establishes principles that facilitate the requesting of material by a library and the provision of loans or copies in response to those requests.” These are the rules on which our library bases our ILL policies on.

Recently, on January 11, 2016, the board approved a revision of the rules. For the most part, most of these changes will not impact you in any way; the changes mainly affect the behind the scenes work that we do for you at the State Library.

A summary of all the changes can be found here.
I’ve compiled a list of the rule summaries from the summary guide that might affect you.

  • Section 4.4: Requesting library must specify in the request any special requirements (e.g. format needed, specified shipping address, special use of the material).

    Most of this is facilitated in the way we’ve changed the request forms to allow you to specify large print, audio, and video materials. If you have any other requirements you need to specify you can leave a note in the note field.
  • Section 4.10: Pay promptly any service, replacement, or damage fees by supplying library.This rule is pretty self-explanatory. Should you incur any lost book fees or be charged for any damage to a book please be sure to pay the invoice promptly.
  • Section 4.12: Due date is redefined as date by which material is due to be checked-in at the requesting library for return to the supplying library.Since we order on behalf of so many libraries we have technically always been doing things this way. Nothing really changes here (for us anyway). 😉
  • Section 4.8: Requesting Libraries must comply with U.S. Copyright Law and take into consideration related guidelines, policies, and procedures, such as CONTU.

    Any articles you request are subject to copyright law. We are checking for copyright law compliance on our end, but if a patron orders something that obviously breaks the law (for example, if they request a scan of an entire book, or even anything more than 1/3 the length of the book) please deny the request on the spot.

    If we suspect a request might violate copyright law we reserve the right to deny the request.

  • Section 4.9: Never affix adhesive labels or tape to an item borrowed.If the book isn’t yours, please take care not to do anything that might damage it. This is mainly referring to libraries that like to use stickers to affix the ILL request information to the book. I doubt any of you are doing this, but just to be clear, it’s okay to affix stickers to your own books, but not to other library’s materials.

Those are the main changes that could possibly affect your library’s ILL processes. If you are interested in reading the entire Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States you can find it here.

Some of you have expressed a desire to know more about the catalog we use to locate ILL materials for you. The catalog that our ILL system uses  is OCLC’s WorldCat catalog.It is freely available to view online at

WorldCat, according to their website, “is the world’s largest network of library content and services,” and it is the catalog in which interlibrary loan agencies use to locate materials at other libraries. This unified catalog has records of holdings from libraries both nationally and internationally as well.

Here are some ways that WorldCat can be of use to you:

  1. WorldCat is a great tool for finding books, especially if you have a patron who wants a specific format; for example, books in large print format. The advanced search in WorldCat has a format field that allows you to specify large print, audio book, eBook, DVD, and many other formats. If you want to confirm if a title comes in large print or audio this is a great tool for the job.
  2. Another helpful feature found in WorldCat is the list of libraries that have the book. This feature tells you how many libraries should have the book and it can give you an idea of how easy, or hard, it might be to obtain a copy. Be aware, that this number is a bit deceiving as well; even though there are libraries have the book your patron wants it does not necessarily mean we will be able to borrow from those libraries. Some of these libraries do not participate in ILL and just use the catalog feature, while other libraries we cannot borrow from because they charge fees.There are other factors that can hinder us from getting a book as well; for example, most libraries don’t like to lend books that are new, the book might be checked out to another patron, or the book could be missing, etc. However, even though there are no guarantees, the more holdings there are of a book the higher the likelihood we will be able to obtain it simply because there are more libraries to ask.Don’t let a book with few holdings stop you from requesting. It never hurts to ask because someone might still say yes. The same goes for new books, we often have to cancel requests for new books because we can’t find a lender, but we send out the request even if the chances are slim. Sometimes we get lucky!
  3. This site is where you can find the OCLC number.The OCLC number is the unique identifier given to each record in the catalog. If you have a patron who wants a very specific edition of a book you can look up the OCLC number and include it in the note section of the ILL request; providing that number will point us right at the specific record for the item you would like us to order.Be sure to continue to supply all of the information on the book/article you can in the request (don’t just give us an OCLC number by itself) so that we can visually verify on our end that the item you are requesting and the information in the OCLC record matches up.

A Parting Thought

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much— the wheel, New York, wars and so on— whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man— for precisely the same reasons.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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