What is an ILL anyway?

16055720According to scottberkun.com there are 300,000+ books published in the U.S. every year. That, compounded by the fact that most Americans only read 1 to 5 books a year, adds up to many, many books going unread. With statistics like this does it come as a surprise that a library cannot possibly purchase and circulate all books that are published? Nevertheless we tend to get the flabbergasted question of: WHAT??  What do you mean the library doesn’t have “Talon and the Dragons of Crinnelia” by Diana Metz?!

Not to worry – we have “an app” for that!

Okay, Interlibrary loan (ILL) isn’t an app in the technical sense; it’s a service offered for items we don’t carry.

Quick history fact:  In the 1890s, the American Library Association developed procedures (aka “Codes”) for libraries looking to borrow or lend items. The very strict codes limited ILLs to “serious research purposes” only.  Today, an ILL may be requested for almost any item: books, movies, games, magazines/journals, music, dissertations, congressional hearing reports, and even historical and genealogical items.

We work with other libraries, both in and out-of state, to fill your requests.  Requests take anywhere from 7-10 business days to arrive.  Each request costs $2, but the cost isn’t added to your library account until the item arrives.  Usually, an ILL item is treated like an LCLS item when you check it out, but there are times when the lending library will include very specific borrower instructions, like length of check-out or in-library-use-only.  While we can fill most requests without issue, there are items that may take longer to arrive or require more money:

  • “New” Items – material published/released within the past six months. Libraries want to keep brand new items for their own patrons.  Each library sets its own policy for how long an item is considered “new.” Laramie County Library System has this type of policy, too; new items are kept here for you first!
  • Academic texts & certification books– Often specialized and constantly revised, these items are high demand; the loan periods fall short of the time-frame needed and renewal requests are not permitted or often denied; additional charges may be a condition of the lending library.
  • Historical and Genealogical Items– Items coming from the Library of Congress (government documents), medical libraries, and historical society libraries may have their own charges in addition to the $2 loan fee. Should this be the case, we will contact you for approval prior to giving the library the “go-ahead” to send.  These charges range usually from $5-$40.
  • International Items – found only in libraries outside the United States. These items require your agreement to pay the shipping both ways, the $2 ILL fee, and any other fee the loaning library might assess.

If we don’t have it, we’ll do our best to find it and bring it in for you!

~ Kim S. – Interlibrary Loan Specialist