Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Interlibrary Loan Puzzle : Putting the pieces together

Guest Post Written by Maureen Welch

puzzle pieces
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Patron, borrowing library, policies, rights & responsibilities, verification, requesting via ILL software, copyright, lending library, delivery and the list goes on of all the pieces of the interlibrary loan puzzle. 

Puzzle Piece #1: Does your library have an interlibrary loan policy?
When, what, and how will you borrow for your patrons? And reciprocally, when, what, and how will you lend? A great place to start drafting or reviewing your ILL policy is by re-reading the Wisconsin ILL Guidelines http://rl3.dpi.wi.gov/wiscill2012

Puzzle Piece #2: Patron-centered ILL service.
Is your interlibrary loan policy/services posted on your website? Is it easy and convenient for patrons to request materials? Do staff promote use of the ILL service if patrons need materials/information not located in the library? ILL is never a replacement for collection development but our communities are diverse and we can’t buy everything.

Puzzle Piece #3: ILL staff workflow.
Have you reviewed your ILL staff workflow in recent years? Are staff well trained and comfortable requesting materials via the ILL software? What materials are too new to request via ILL? Do staff regularly ask for photocopy info for requested materials which don’t normally circulate like family history? Who’s the best Nancy Drew (ILL/reference detective) in your library for verifying the garbled title/author a patron heard about somewhere? Is any given request easily located during processing? Are requests filled quickly? Are requested items used to consider collection development needs?

Puzzle Piece #4: Resource Sharing Network.
One of the true joys of interlibrary loan is the network that has been built to share library materials. The 2014 Wisconsin Public Library Service Data interlibrary loan statistics show that our public libraries loaned 9,121,887 items to and received 9,168,348 from other libraries. A lot of those materials are moving between libraries on the shared circulation systems (an incredible network of sharing), but traditional interlibrary loan still plays an important role in fulfilling our patrons’ information needs and I’m impressed with how well many libraries share their collections.

I’ve worked in the Wisconsin interlibrary loan network for over 20 years and still enjoy being one of the puzzle pieces in the big picture of providing quality ILL service to library patrons.

Written by:
Maureen Welch, Indianhead Library System