The life cycle of an ILL request: part two

In our last post, we left off the life cycle of an ILL request with a push of the “send” button, when an ILL request leaves USC’s office and is submitted to other libraries for review. Today, we’ll discuss what happens to an ILL request after it’s been submitted to different institutions and how fulfilled requests are returned to our patron.

Each of the libraries that we’ve selected receive the request in turn. They have three options—to fill the request, conditional the request, or cancel the request. In most cases, if a library owns an item, they’ll fill the request. The library can conditional the request, or send it back to us for review, if they need more information or for us to agree to certain restrictions. The request is cancelled and moves on to the next lender for one of several reasons: the library charges more to fill it than we can pay, the exact item isn’t owned, the item has been designated as non-circulating, or if it doesn’t abide by another of their restrictions.

Once a library has selected to fill the request, they’ll either scan and upload the item or mail it to us directly. In most cases, scanned items will be automatically delivered to our patrons via electronic delivery, and—hooray! The request is complete. However, if the item is mailed, there are several more steps. We’ll double check the item for accuracy, check it in to our system, and either bring it to the circulation desk for pick up or mail the item directly to our patron. After we’ve notified the patron that the item is available, the patron will pick up the item and it will be checked out to his or her ILL account until the item is returned. Once returned, we check the item back into our system and send it back to the providing library, where their staff will (once again) check in the item, completing and finalizing the request.

It sounds like a lot of steps, but it’s essential that we perform the process carefully to ensure that we get you the information that you need as efficiently as possible. So, there you have it: the full life-cycle of an ILL borrowing request. Stay tuned for more posts from your ILL team!

Contributed by Amie Freeman

The life cycle of an ILL request: part one

Today, we’re going to walk you through the life-cycle of an ILL borrowing request. Typically, an ILL request begins when one of our patrons discovers a research need that cannot be filled through our library’s resources. At that point, the patron has two options: submit a request directly from the ILL webpages, or, if the item has been discovered through a library database, click the “Request from ILL” button.

Here’s where things get interesting: the request is sent to our request management system, ILLiad, into one of two queues: “Awaiting Copyright Clearance” or “Awaiting Request Processing”. Did you know that we have to confirm copyright abidance of all requests published in the last five years? We determine if the request abides by both copyright law and something called the CONTU guidelines. If it does, we pass the request to the “Awaiting Request Processing” queue. If it doesn’t, we determine if the copyright fee or cost to purchase the item directly falls into our budget.

Moving into the “Awaiting Request Processing’ queue, a staff member will open and review the request. In most cases, the staff member will track down the original citation for confirmation or to add additional details to ensure that we are requesting the correct item from our lenders. The more, and more accurate, information we have, the better! We use something called an OCLC number, which is similar to an ISBN but represents a library record, to determine which libraries own the item. Next, we request, or “send-out”, our request from matching libraries. We can select up to fifteen potential lenders to review the request.

And—poof—it’s out of our hands, with a push of the “Send” button! In our next post, we’ll discuss what happens to the request after it has moved into the ILL ether and how the fulfilled request gets back to the patron.

Contributed by Amie Freeman