If the item is not found in the local library
If, however, the item is not found in the library collection, and there isnít anything similar that will fulfill the patronís request, the ILL process will need to be used to obtain the information for the patron from another library.
If a patron has a need for more than one item, prepare a separate ILL request for each item. This will save work for the lending libraries in two ways. First, it will allow them to deal with the details of one specific item at a time. Second, it will allow you to spread the job among several libraries, so that no single one is given the full load.
A corollary to this point is that it is never proper to send a subject request. Rather than send a general request, for example, for information about raising potatoes, it is always necessary to ask for specific articles or books. It is the job of the borrowing library to decide what to ask for; it is the job of the lending to provide the resources if they are available. (Do not be tempted to use the ILL process as a way to handle vague reference questions.
If you need a refresher on the reference interview, see the ABLE course on Public Services. Or if you are faced with a difficult question, try sharing it with colleagues through a listserv such as LIBIDAHO.)
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