Thursday, June 4, 2015

Interlibrary Loan - yes, it matters!

Guest post written by:  Jennifer Friedman, Mendota Mental Health Institute

Mendota Mental Health Institute Library
Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Friedman
The Mendota Mental Health Institute library serves approximately 350 male forensic patients (those having been judged not guilty of a crime for reason of insanity or mental defect), 20 teenage male patients, and a few older folks on a civil geriatric unit. We work closely with the Recreational, Occupational, Vocational, Music, and Art Therapy staff, who use library materials for therapeutic groups of all kinds. Two or three groups of patients per day visit the library, using computers, reading magazines, browsing our book/CD/DVD collections, or just enjoying a chance to get off the sometimes chaotic unit.

The therapeutic value of library services (especially interlibrary loan - ILL) is known to everyone here at Mendota.  ILL requests for materials are filled by libraries all over Wisconsin, not to mention out-of-state. Your libraries respond with the most generous sharing of their valuable library materials: everything from paperbacks to DVDs we can’t afford to collect, to the latest and greatest CDs. You allow me to stock our patients’ Book Group with multiple copies of the same book editions, so we can refer to the same page numbers in our discussions. You give us an incredible 95.36% fill rate on requested items, and in most cases, you are able to send items within a week to ten days. WISCAT and LinkCat (the SCLS system) provide us about 250 items per month through ILL.


Mendota Mental Health Institute Library
Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Friedman

My patients tell me all the time how cool it is that I got them some little-known novel from years ago, or exactly the poem or song they were looking for, sometimes from across the U.S.—or sometimes even from their hometown public library!

Interlibrary loan gives our community more than just “that thing I want”. It gives them a sense that I as the librarian, and you as the lending community, are not just willing to, but tasked with, going the extra mile for a citizen of Wisconsin, even though he is institutionalized. It tells them that when they are out in the world in the future, they can rely on the local public library to help them get information and resources.

Written by:
Jennifer Friedman, Mendota Mental Health Institute Library