ILL usually starts when a patron or library staff member asks for an information resource that is not available in his or her library. This request will go through several steps before being turned into a functional ILL request and sent off to another library. Verification of the need and the bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, pages, dates, ISBN or ISSN, etc.), and noting patron contact information are the first steps taken.
When the need to borrow the item from another library has been established, further steps involve locating a loaning library, double-checking that library’s ILL policies, creating an ILL request based on established guidelines, sending the request, and waiting patiently for a reply. If the loan is approved, further steps in the process involve receiving the material and acknowledging its arrival, either loaning it or giving it to the patron, depending on the format, and then making sure the item is returned to the original library if need be.
For a library to be a successful participant in an ILL program, ALL of the above steps must be followed consistently and in compliance with the ILL guidelines. Each library needs to set its own ILL policy, taking into account the practices of any ILL networks it might be participating in.
These networks allow for easier exchange of information between participating libraries, but also expect a high level of cooperation based on protocols set up by the group for the overall benefit of all the libraries involved. Compliance with these guidelines makes the process work better for everyone, though at times they may seem picky to individual libraries.
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