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

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