Interlibrary Loans

We often get a lot of questions about interlibrary loans–the process of borrowing books for our patrons from other libraries. It’s a complicated process on our end, but shouldn’t be tricky for patrons. Here are a few things you need to know to get started.

Don’t expect your loan right away.

It takes time to order books from other libraries. While we might place the request within a few hours of you submitting your pink form to us, it can take up to several days for a library to reply, depending on the day of the week, and if there is a holiday involved. Then, the library that accepts the request must collect the item from their branch, package it up, and get it onto the courier that services our area. If their courier days are different than ours, your interlibrary loan might not leave their library for several days, and then be delayed slightly because of our courier delivery dates. That’s why we suggest it might take a few weeks for you to receive your order. Please be patient……we definitely will not have it available the next day.

DVDs are trickier to get than books.

Not every library loans their DVDs to other libraries. As a rule, we don’t offer that service. We’d rather our own patrons have the chance to borrow our DVDs, especially when they are part of a series. You can imagine that if a library loans a DVD set, it might be several weeks before they’d come back, even with a one-week loan period, due to courier schedules. We’ll cast a wide net to try to get you a specific DVD, but it might not be available.

Newly released books and DVDs are much harder to get.

For the most part, we order widely. Chances are, that new biography you’ve been wanting to read is already on our order list. But if it isn’t, we might not be able to fulfill the request. Most libraries won’t loan out their brand new books, again because they want to keep them available for their own patrons. So, if something was released within the last few calendar weeks, please keep your request for a few months. If we couldn’t get it right away, you might want to try again at about the six-month mark.

Why can’t I renew my interlibrary loans?

We can’t extend your interlibrary loan, but we can re-order it for you. We’ve already made a loan contract with the loaning library to borrow their item for a certain period. In that time, they might already have requests for it at their library, and will be expecting it back on time. Please take note of the date on your checkout slip, and the stamp on your ILL that reminds you we can’t extend the item past the due date. But….feel free to ask us to re-order it. Yes, it means, we’ll have to send it back, but hopefully, we can get it for you again quickly!

Why can’t I return my item to the loaning library myself? I work nearby!

It’s not a simple process borrowing books from other libraries. We all have our own systems, and we need to be able to keep a close eye on items loaned to us. Our system involves:

  • writing out a pink card request
  • logging into the online system and searching for your item
  • requesting that item from the other library
  • receiving an acceptance, which includes a special number for our records
  • unpackaging the item when it arrives
  • doing the paperwork to let the other library know we received it in good shape
  • preparing the item to go out to our patron, with an ILL slip that includes the library order number and date due
  • sending a message to our patron to let you know your item is waiting to be picked up
  • signing the book out when you pick it up
  • signing it back in when you return it
  • sending a notice to the lending library to let them know we’ve received the item back and will be shipping it via library courier
  • packaging your item for the courier or mail
  • prepping the boxes for the courier

As you can see, it involves a closely guarded paper trail so that we can continue to borrow items from other libraries. We love to be able to open up endless possibilities to our patrons with regards to our collection, and we love being able to offer this to other libraries as well.

Ask us about doing an interlibrary loan today!


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