Monday, January 25, 2010

52 weeks to better genealogy - Challenge #4 - Interlibrary Loan

The  Interlibrary loan service at my local library is one I am quite familiar with as I have used it from both sides of the desk.  Most of my requests are for microfilm but the process is quite similar for requesting a book.

Before requesting a book, I make sure that it isn't already in the library's collection.

What can be interlibrary loaned is primarily a decision of the holding library. A library may restrict the loan of their reference materials, rare or fragile items or one of a kind items or books on deposit from an organization that have stipulated that materials are not to loaned outside of the library.  Books published during the past year, as a general practice, are not loaned. Some libraries will loan books but will stipulate that the books can only be used in the borrowing library.

To have the best success in obtaining a book that I would like to borrow, I will do some preliminary research. I may have heard about a book or saw it in a bibliography but I want to make sure that I have the correct information.

1. Search InfoOntario  This database searches many of the Southern and Northern Ontario library databases The search can also be limited to a region. As a guest, choose Bibsearch to begin. You can do a simple or advanced search.  It will not tell you if the book is currently on the shelf but you will get the bibliographic information and the classification number for each library that has the book.
2. If I can't find the book in that database, I will check the Toronto Public Library system catalogue.
3. Finally, I would check Worldcat. Not all libraries are in this database.

The information that our library needs to begin the interlibrary loan process:

1. Your name, library card number (card must be in good standing) and telephone number and/or email
2. The author (last name, first name)
3. The full title
4. Year of publication
5. Publisher
6. ISBN - International Standard Book Number (older books will not have this number).

You will be asked if you are willing to pay a fee if the book comes from a library that charges (sometimes there is a charge for books from universities).

This information is put on the interlibrary loan slip for books that are available from the reference desk staff.  This information is then passed on to the Interlibrary Loan Staff person who begins the search process through the INFO system.

Now, I have to be patient as it can take sometimes four to six weeks for the book to arrive. It will depend on what libraries have the book, whether it is on the shelf or not and from how far away the book has to come. Sometimes, you are really lucky and it will come quickly.

When the book arrives, I will be notified. The loan period is set by the loaning library so I want to get to the library as soon as possible so I have the maximum benefit of the time.

Interlibrary loan is a wonderful service.

© 2010 Janet Iles


  1. Thank you for sharing how Interlibrary Loan works in your system. I agree, it's a wonderful service!

  2. What a great explanation of Interlibrary Loan!


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