Searching for a location
Using the correct bibliographic information that was already verified in some way in one of the steps above, the library can then access their online resources to locate the item in other libraries. This can be done on several levels, depending on the policies of the library involved. Many libraries now belong to local networks of some sort, so will often start by searching their local network catalog. This could be a catalog of shared holdings that can be accessed by all members.
If the item is located in this shared listing, the library can then follow through the rest of the ILL process using the guidelines established by the local network. Most networks have pre-created forms, either paper or online, that are used by the members as part of the ILL process. If the process can be completed online, often a requesting library has the ability to set defaults for such things as loan periods, choices of libraries to borrow from, costs of service, and those sorts of details.
If the library doesn’t belong to a local network, the next step is to turn to a larger network that the library might have access to, such as OCLC. Often these types of larger networks will allow a library to set limits when searching, such as looking for libraries in the same state (for example, the LiLI Unlimited Catalog for Idaho), or libraries that loan free of charge. This makes the final choices of where to request items from easier for the home library. Again, if using these networks, be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements of the network, especially if using online ILL forms and processes.
If the home library does not find the material requested in either a local or national network, there are still some options available. Many libraries have their catalogs available on the Internet, so a search on a web browser such as Google might bring up libraries that own the item. At this point, it may be necessary to recheck the accuracy of the citation. It may be the case that an item is published too recently to be listed in library catalogs, or it may not actually have been published yet. Historical items may not be listed with general library collections, but may be housed in archives. Sometimes it is helpful to ask for help with the search for a hard to find item through a listserv such as LIBIDAHO.
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