"Interlibrary Loan as a Library Instruction Initiative"
Douglas F. Hasty, MLS
Poster Presentation #V-17, 1998 ALA Conference
Florida International University
Miami, Florida, USA
Interlibrary Loan, once seen as a privileged library service reserved for only a handful
of library patrons, has become integrated into mainstream library services and
bibliographic instruction programs. As with any other library service, patrons require
assistance with Interlibrary Loan procedures and policies. Within this responsibility of
assistance exists the need to provide the patron with sufficient understanding of ILL
and electronic and print reference resources which help them to locate and request
materials not owned by their home library.
In helping the library patron to understand Interlibrary Loan service, bibliographic research, and citation verification, Interlibrary Loan helps the patron to locate and receive their needed materials through formal and informal ILL instruction initiatives. Overall, one of the primary goals of the modern
Interlibrary Loan service is to make the library patron as ILL-independent and self-sufficient as possible. The objectives of the Interlibrary Loan Instruction Initiative is to have patrons perform research effectively, understand varied citation formats, and successfully submit ILL requests. Achieving these objectives will allow requests to be more quickly expedited and filled. Therefore, the Interlibrary Loan Librarian and staff are responsible for initiating and administering Interlibrary Loan instruction which helps to achieve this goal.
Statement of the Problem
- Patrons providing inaccurate information or incorrectly completing ILL forms; result:
delay in processing of requests by the ILL staff.
- Patrons providing unverified citation source information or not verifying home
library ownership status in the library's OAPC; result: some materials may be available
in the home library meaning that ILL is unnecessary for this request.
- ILL Office work flow over-burdened by ILL requests which were incorrectly or
inaccurately submitted; result: delay in processing other requests from same or other
patrons causes loss of processing time and productivity rate for all requests from all patrons
Objectives of the Project
- To provide patrons with instruction about successfully completing ILL request
forms to ensure that the presence of accurate information increases the likelihood of
receiving the needed material within a reasonable period of time.
- To improve the understanding and use of the local OPAC as an ILL verification tool
for use when verifying citations and confirming the home library's ownership status of
needed materials prior to seeking ILL assistance.
- To have patrons submit accurate, verified ILL requests as needed in accordance
with policy and procedures.
- To reduce to the greatest possible extent the amount of inaccurate, unverified ILL
requests in the ILL work flow so that the productivity and delivery time of all pending
requests to be processed is not negatively effected by inaccurate or unverified
- Direct, one-to-one informal patron instruction as requested by the patron from an
- Direct, one-to-one informal patron instruction as determined by the ILL staff
member when providing uninitiated assistance walk-in patrons.
- Integration of formal ILL instruction into regularly scheduled bibliographic and
library instruction classes and programs as performed by other library staff.
- Formal ILL instruction and lectures to individual classes as requested by faculty or
- Publicizing of ILL policies and procedures in print and Web/HTML format for direct,
unlimited access by patrons.
- Formal and informal instruction of library staff concerning the basic functions and
primary responsibilities of ILL as relating to research and instructional support.
- Publicizing ILL statistics which demonstrate that greater chances exist for the
fulfilling of verified, accurately submitted requests as compared to unverified,
- Establishing oral, written, and electronic communication methods between the ILL
staff and the patron to demonstrate to the patron effective, caring, and personal service
for all requests submitted in order to assist the patron with their research and
- Publication of print form, brochures, guides, and other handouts in different colored
sheets of paper for instant visual recognition and cognizance.
- Publish and promote the ILL Office Procedural Manual in the Web/HTML
environment, including tasks, responsibilities, and logical progression of work flow, so
that ILL patrons can develop a comprehensive understanding of the service.
- Develop training programs intended for all ILL staff, including permanent
employees and student assistants, in order to assure equity of service and instruction
to patrons regardless of the ILL staff member's assigned position, duties, or
Findings and Solutions
- Numerical and percentile statistics demonstrate the higher fill rate for accurately,
verified ILL requests as compared to requests which involve substantial processing
problems or barriers.
- Patrons have developed more confidence in ILL as a regular, expected research
assistance tool due to an improved level of service comprehension.
- Increased numbers of accurate, verified ILL requests have allowed for faster
productivity and delivery time by reducing the number of requests which are more
difficult or impossible to process.
- Patron expectations of ILL as a viable information and document delivery access
and provision source have increased.
- Patrons view favorably the attention and concern from ILL staff that their requests
receive as the ILL office strives to fill their request.
Library Instruction Options for Interlibrary Loan and Library Staff
- Walk-In or By-Appointment Assistance
- Print Brochures & Web Page Information
- Librarian-to-Patron Contact & Instruction
- Classroom Instruction
- Correspondence by Telephone, Fax, Email, and in Writing
- Individual or Group Instruction at the OPAC Terminals
- Reference and Circulation Desk
Steps in the Interlibrary Loan Request Process for the Borrowing Patron
These are the steps in the Interlibrary Loan Borrowing Patron Request Process,
beginning with the Patron's information or research need and ending with the receipt of
- Patron's research and information need begins
- Patron visits the Library's Reference Desk or other service desk facility
- Information or research request becomes a reference interview
- Reference Librarian provides advice, guidance, and instruction
Patron identifies materials needed via indexes, abstracts, catalogs, web search,
bibliographies, footnotes and endnotes in published works, and personal contacts or
- Patron accesses the Library's OPAC or print catalog to begin collecting materials
- Patron determines their home Library's ownership status of needed materials, and
- (7A) Some or all of the needed materials are not owned by the home Library
(7B) Some or all materials are owned by the home Library
- Patron obtains materials from home Library, but how does the patron obtain the
needed materials not located in their home Library? Patron returns to the Reference
Desk for further instruction
- Reference Librarian, other Librarians, colleagues, and friends refers Patron to the
Interlibrary Loan Office
- Patron visits the ILL Office and begins the ILL Request Process:
- (10A) First-time ILL Patrons inquire about expectations of service, procedures, and
(10B) Experienced ILL Patrons begin ILL material request process as usual
- Requests submitted to the ILL Office according to the home Library's ILL policies
- Requests are reviewed by ILL Staff for compliance with ILL procedures, accurate
information, and other data relevance
- Patron is contacted by telephone, fax, email, or written correspondence if
information in the ILL request form prevents processing because data provided is
inaccurate, incomplete, or illegible
- Requests are processed and ordered (via electronic systems or non-electronic
means) in accordance with ALA/ILL codes, internal ILL procedures, and the U.S.
- Responses to requests from Lending Libraries are received:
- (15A) Lending Library promises to ship material
(15B) No library is willing to lend material or supply photocopy
- Material is received or first round of ordering has ended:
- (16A) Material is received and given to Patron
(16B) Patron notified about the inability to locate a Lending Library on first round of
Links to Interlibrary Loan Related web pages at Florida International University