Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery

One of the services a library provides its patrons is interlibrary loan and document delivery. The American Library Association gives a definition of Interlibrary Loan as “a process by which a library requests material from, or supplies material to, another library. The purpose of Interlibrary Loan is to obtain, upon request of a library user, material not available in the user’s local community.”
The process of requesting books or journal articles from other libraries is pretty straightforward. Every library has an interlibrary loan form for patrons to fill out for this purpose. However, it is not always a foolproof method of obtaining exactly what a patron wants. The problem usually stems from the fact that sometimes a patron does not provide complete information on an item.

Requesting a book is simple. All you need to do is giving the title of the book, the name of the author and the date it was published. However, requesting a journal article is a different story completely. Just the name of the author or authors, the name of the journal the article published in and the date published does not help locating it right away. An author can have several articles published in one journal. At the same time, since these days, most journals have their online version, the dates published in print and online are not necessarily one and the same. To request an article, its title is always needed. Better yet if volume and issue numbers are also available, it would make it even easier for a busy Interlibrary Loan librarian to find that article in a timely manner. Without them, there would be a lot of fumbling and stumbling all the way to an unhappy patron who did not receive exactly what he was looking for.

Kultida Dunagin
Electronic Resources and Interlibrary Loan

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