Many of the jobs associated with library operations have been streamlined and made easier through the use of computers and the various networks or connections those computers enable in today’s libraries. ILL is one of the areas that benefits greatly from the use of computerized networks and cooperative agreements between libraries.
Though some of the largest library networks in existence today, such as OCLC, started primarily as cataloging databases, their aid in the ILL process was recognized from the beginning. As more and more libraries add their holdings to online catalogs and cooperative databases of catalogs, these resources become invaluable aids to those staff members trying to locate materials from other libraries.
As this benefit was recognized in the libraries involved, guidelines and structures were set up to allow for the exchange of materials between libraries. These guidelines were developed to help each of the libraries participating in the network feel they were equal partners in the process, and also to allow for pleasant, cooperative sharing as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Usually, participating in a network that facilitates ILL activities means agreeing to
When these sorts of cooperative attitudes are established between libraries, it allows for all in the group to benefit from the collections of each library, expanding the information available and helping in information access, without unduly straining budgets. This approach to sharing information has been so successful that most libraries, no matter what kind they are, participate in at least one network of some sort today.
Networks can be national or international, such as OCLC; regional or state based, such as Orbis (in Oregon) and LiLI Unlimited (in Idaho), or local, such as VALNet (in north Idaho). Each of these groups of libraries agree to work together, based on the particular details of their agreements, to support and share their information to improve access for all of their patrons.
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