Interlibrary loan

Interlibrary loan (abbreviated ILL, and sometimes called interloan, interlending, document delivery, document supply, or interlibrary services, abbreviated ILS) is a service whereby a patron of one library can borrow books, DVDs, music, etc. and/or receive photocopies of documents that are owned by another library. The user makes a request with their home library; which, acting as an intermediary, identifies libraries with the desired item, places the request, receives the item, makes it available to the user, as well as arranges for its return. The lending library usually sets a due date and overdue fees of the material borrowed. Although books and journal articles are the most frequently requested items, some libraries will lend audio recordings, video recordings, maps, sheet music, and microforms of all kinds. In some cases, nominal fees accompany the interlibrary loan services.

The term document delivery may also be used for a related service, namely the supply of journal articles and other copies on a personalized basis, whether these come from other libraries or direct from the publishers. The end user is usually responsible for any fees, such as costs for postage or photocopying. Commercial document delivery services will borrow on behalf of any customer willing to pay for their rates.


Interlibrary Loan (3744575318)
A patron picking up books they requested through interlibrary loan.

Interlibrary loan, or resource sharing, has two operations: borrowing and lending.

  • A borrowing library sends an owning library a request to borrow, photocopy, or scan materials that is needed by their patron.
  • The owning library fills the request by sending materials to the borrowing library or supply a reason for why the request cannot be filled.
  • If the item is sent, the borrowing library notifies the patron when the item arrives.

Interlibrary loan and resource sharing have a variety of systems and workflows, often based on the scale of service, regional networks, and library systems. Processes are automated by computer systems such as VDX based on ISO ILL standards 10161 and 10160. Two major systems are used heavily: ILLiad[1] developed by Atlas Systems and Worldshare Management System by OCLC.[2] In 2017, OCLC announced a new interlibrary loan management system called Tipasa, which is built on the OCLC WorldShare technology platform, and is the first entirely cloud-based interlibrary loan management system.[3]

Loan requests between branch libraries in the same local library system are usually filled promptly, while loan requests between library systems may take weeks to complete. However, if an item is rare, fragile, or exceptionally valuable, the owning library is under no obligation to release it for interlibrary loan. Some collections and volumes, especially bound journals and one-of-a-kind manuscripts, are non-circulating, meaning that they may not be borrowed. Books may be delivered by mail or by courier service. Photocopies may be faxed, or scanned and delivered electronically. Urgent requests are placed if the item is needed right away; sometimes for additional fees. Public libraries do not usually offer urgent service.

Journal articles

Interlibrary loan provides users with access to articles from journals that their library does not have in its collection or is subscribed to. In the United States, most libraries follow guidelines established by the Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted works (CONTU),[4] which established that libraries should pay publishers' fees if more than 5 ILL requests are filled from within the past 5 years from a specific publication. This guideline is referred to in United States Libraries as the "Rule of Five."

In addition, many journal or database licenses specify whether a library can or cannot supply journal articles via ILL, with many libraries taking an approach to negotiate for ILL to be allowed in licenses.[5] When licensed to send articles via Interlibrary Loan, and having examined the need to pay copyright fees for articles, article processing has become highly automated in Interlibrary Loan. In the early 1990s the Research Library Group (RLG) created and released Ariel, a software that made communicating both photocopies and native digital articles more efficient.[6] In the early 2000s Atlas Systems, creators of the ILLiad software system, created Odyssey, which allowed for direct communication of articles between libraries, and ultimately direct sending of articles to library patrons.[7] Although Odyssey usage and features increased quickly, OCLC realized an important need among its member libraries, and created Article Exchange, which is a cloud-based secure article sharing platform that automatically deletes articles after a specified number of downloads and/or a number of days.[8]

As many libraries shifted their journal subscriptions to digital, and citation information became much more available with tools such as Google Scholar, Interlibrary Loan of articles has effectively become a large part of Interlibrary Loan services.

In the United States

Joseph C. Rowell 1919
Joseph C. Rowell

In 1886 Joseph C. Rowell, Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley, sought permission to begin Interlibrary Loan; his request was granted during the years 1894–1898.

In 1894 Rowell initiated U.C. Berkeley's first program of interlibrary lending, with the California State Library as partner. Later that year Rowell expanded the invitation for a group of libraries, such as NUCMC. Librarians then filled out a standardized form (i.e. an ALA Interlibrary Loan Request Form 2002) and sent it by postal mail to a library that owned a copy. This procedure is still used by the few libraries that are not members of an electronic interlibrary loan network.

In 1994, the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the ALA (America Library Association) formed an ALA Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States, which sought to establish resource sharing as a core service and to provide guidelines for libraries.[9] The RUSA section on Resource Sharing has also engaged in initiatives to expand resource sharing, including the Rethinking Resource Sharing Initiative[10] and Committee.[11]

Since the mid-1980s, searching for books located at other libraries has become easier, as many libraries have enabled their users to search their online catalogs at the library or over the Internet. Today, everyone can freely use to identify which needed items that are not owned by their local libraries. Medical libraries primarily use DOCLINE, developed by the National Library of Medicine, which comprises libraries in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.[12]

The Ohio State University and others in Ohio began integrating campus library systems at an early date. In the 1960s, state funds supported the development of the Online Computer Library Center (at that time called the Ohio College Library Center). OCLC has since grown into an international organization with a database of 30 million entries representing materials held in more than 10,000 libraries.

Link+ is an interlibrary loan scheme in California and Nevada,[13][14] and OhioLINK is the system used in Ohio, where the catalogs and databases of the state's libraries are joined electronically.[15]

Resource sharing networks

Libraries have established voluntary associations, often on a regional basis, to provide an online union catalog of all the items held by all member libraries. Whenever a library adds a new title to its catalog, a copy of the record is also added to the union list. This allows librarians to quickly determine which of the other libraries hold an item. Software then facilitates the request and supply tasks. In the U.S., Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) is used by public and academic libraries. Formerly, another network RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network) was used primarily by academic libraries but merged with OCLC on October 1, 2007. Australia and New Zealand use Libraries Australia and New Zealand Libraries' Catalogue[16] respectively, the national bibliographic networks of those countries.

Online requests are usually submitted via OCLC's WorldCat or FirstSearch in the United States. Libraries without access to either can participate in interlibrary loan by submitting requests by postal mail, fax, email, or telephone call. These are referred to as manual requests. Manual requests can be submitted in the United States through the American Library Association. Some libraries establish reciprocal arrangements with each other to supply loans and copies for free. Examples of such arrangements in the United States include Libraries Very Interested in Sharing (LVIS),[17] Amigos,[18] Mid-America Association of Law Libraries (MAALL),[19] Bibliographical Center for Research, and the Greater Western Library Alliance[20] (formerly the Big 12 Plus Library Consortium). Sometimes these arrangements include other services such as the Trans-Amigos Express (TAE) courier services, which will ship and deliver items to Amigos members on the TAE route.[21] Individual libraries can agree to reciprocal arrangements between each other.

See also


  1. ^ "ILLiad: Atlas Systems". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  2. ^ author-replicator. "WorldShare Management Services". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  3. ^ David, Free (April 2017). "OCLC introduces Tipasa interlibrary loan management system". College & Research Libraries News. 78 (4): 186–187. doi:10.5860/crln.78.4.9646. ISSN 0099-0086 – via Highwire Press Free.
  4. ^ "CONTU".
  5. ^ Croft, Janet Brennan (2005-05-31). "Interlibrary Loan and Licensing". Journal of Library Administration. 42 (3–4): 41–53. doi:10.1300/J111v42n03_03. ISSN 0193-0826.
  6. ^ "Ariel".
  7. ^ "Odyssey".
  8. ^ "Article Exchange".
  9. ^ "ALA Interlibrary Loan Code".
  10. ^ "Rethinking Resource Sharing".
  11. ^ "RUSA Stars Rethinking Resource Sharing".
  12. ^ "DOCLINE® System". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  13. ^ Aggarwal, Anil (2000). Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges. Idea Group Inc. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-878289-60-5. OCLC 43095789.
  14. ^ "Link+ Catalog". 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  15. ^ "What Is OhioLINK". 2012. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012. OhioLINK
  16. ^ New Zealand Libraries' Catalogue. National Library of New Zealand.
  17. ^ "Libraries Very Interested in Sharing".
  18. ^ "Amigos Library Services - Resource Sharing Through Technology".
  19. ^ "Mid-America Association of Law Libraries". Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  20. ^ "GWLA". GWLA. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  21. ^ "Trans Amigos Express (TAE)".

Further reading

The leading journals in the field of interlibrary loan are:

  • Interlending and Document Supply
  • Journal of Access Services
  • Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery and Electronic Reserve, Haworth Press. (Earlier title: Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Information Supply).
  • Department of Education and Science (1962) Inter-library Co-operation in England and Wales: report of the working party appointed by the Minister of Education in March 1961. (Chairman: E. B. H. Baker.) London: H. M. S. O.

External links

Charles Henry Gould

Charles Henry Gould (December 6, 1855 – July 30, 1919) was a Canadian librarian and musician.

Gould attended the High School of Montreal and McGill University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1877. He started graduate work in physics but never took a further degree. From 1880 to 1887 he was the organist of the American Presbyterian Church in Montreal. In 1892, Gould was appointed as the first university librarian at McGill University. Gould began his service as librarian by traveling through Europe and the United States to learn library administration.Gould contributed greatly to Canadian culture, scholarship, and librarianship. He hosted the American Library Association's annual meeting in Montreal in 1900 and during that meeting participated in founding the first Canadian library association which became the Ontario Library Association. Gould started the first bibliographical control system for Canadian science. In 1904 Gould started a summer school that became the McGill Library School. Gould is credited with the creation of the modern system of interlibrary loan. In 1916 he chaired the committee of the ALA that produced the first policies for interlibrary loan among libraries.Gould served as the first Canadian president of the American Library Association from 1908 to 1909. During his tenure, he oversaw the relocation of the ALA headquarters from Boston to Chicago and the adoption of a new constitution for the Association. Gould also served as president of the Bibliographical Society of America from 1912 to 1913.


ConnectNY (CNY) is a consortium of New York State academic libraries and the Center for Research Libraries that lend and borrow books from a shared catalog. Founded in 2003 with Mellon Foundation funding, CNY "supports resource sharing and enhancement of services to users through programs in cooperative collecting, access to electronic resources and physical collections, and expedited interlibrary loan and document delivery." In 2010, CNY became an incorporated 501 (c)3 non-profit organization in New York State. At that time, CNY consisted of 15 libraries and 16 collections (CRL's holding were incorporated into the catalog).

David W. Mullins Library

Located at the heart of campus, David W. Mullins Library is the main research library of the University of Arkansas. The University Libraries also include the Robert A. and Vivian Young Law Library, the Fine Arts Library, the Chemistry and Biochemistry Library, and the Physics Library.

Named for University President David Wiley Mullins, Mullins Library was built in 1968 to replace Vol Walker Hall as the main University Library. Mullins Library was renovated and expanded in 1997. The University Libraries’ combined holdings total more than 2.4 million volumes of books and periodicals, 5.5 million microforms, and 92,600 journal titles. Other resources include 144,000 maps, 21,000 linear feet of manuscripts, 43,000 audio and video recordings, and thousands of music scores. The Libraries’ Special Collections acquires and preserves access to historical manuscripts, University Archives, Arkansas Collection, rare books, historical maps, and the Arkansas Architectural Archives. Select items from these collections are digitized for the online Digital Collections. Services offered by the University Libraries include Interlibrary Loan and document delivery, course reserves, research guides, an online institutional repository, ScholarWorks@UARK, and faculty-student collaborative spaces. Subject librarians are available for classroom presentations on library resources and research techniques as well as for individual research consultations.

E-book lending

E-book lending is a practice in which access to already-purchased downloads or online reads of e-books is made available on a time-limited basis to others. It works around the digital rights management built into online-store-published e-books by limiting access to a purchased e-book file to the borrower, resulting in loss of access to the file by the purchaser for the duration of the borrowing period.

E-book lending has become an increasing practice in the early 2010s for public libraries as well as independent e-book lending communities; the latter is increasingly viable, especially for books which are not available in the Amazon Kindle's Kindle Format, Mobipocket or Barnes & Noble Nook formats. Websites such as and have emerged to facilitate lending and borrowing of books between strangers. In a survey of interlibrary loan librarians it was found that 92% of libraries held ebooks in their collections and that 27% of those libraries had negotiated interlibrary loan rights for some of their ebooks. This survey found significant barriers to conducting interlibrary loan for ebooks. Demand-driven acquisition (DDA) has been around for a few years in public libraries, which allows vendors to streamline the acquisition process by offering to match a library's selection profile to the vendor's e-book titles. The library's catalog is then populated with records for all the e-books that match the profile. The decision to purchase the title is left to the patrons, although the library can set purchasing conditions such as a maximum price and purchasing caps so that the dedicated funds are spent according to the library's budget.

The 2012 meeting of the Association of American University Presses included a panel on Patron-driven acquisition (PDA) of books produced by university presses based on a preliminary report by Joseph Esposito, a digital publishing consultant who has studied the implications of PDA with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.As of 2014, over 90% of U.S. public libraries offer ebook lending. Many of those libraries use OverDrive, which provides ebook access to about 26,000 libraries and schools in the U.S. Overdrive is the only lending service that works with the Amazon Kindle.

Some publishers have feared that making books available for loan may deter people from buying the books. However, ebook lending has the potential to increase the discoverability of books, encouraging readers to try out new authors and genres, resulting in increased purchases.In December 2010, Amazon introduced the ability for Kindle users to lend ebooks to friends for a 14-day period. However, not all books support lending.


ILL may refer to:

I Love Lucy, a landmark American television sitcom

Illorsuit Heliport (location identifier: ILL), a heliport in Illorsuit, Greenland

Institut Laue–Langevin, an internationally financed scientific facility

Interlibrary loan, a service whereby a user of one library can borrow books or receive photocopies of documents that are owned by another library

Willmar Municipal Airport (IATA code: ILL), a city-owned public use airport

ISO 10160

ISO 10160 is the ISO standard, first published in 1993, that defines the terminology that is used for interlibrary loan transactions between various document exchange systems such as VDX. It is closely related to ISO 10161, the Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol.

ISO 10161

ISO 10161 is the ISO standard, first published in 1993, that defines the interlibrary loan (ILL) application protocol for communication between various document exchange systems. It allows ILL systems at different libraries and residing on different hardware platforms and using different software packages such as VDX to communicate with each other to request and receive electronic documents. It is closely related to ISO 10160, the Interlibrary Loan Application Service Definition.

ISO 2146

ISO 2146 is an ISO standard defining an information model for "registry services for libraries and related organisations". Operating at a higher level than item-level standards such as MARC, it takes as principal elements parties (people or organisations), collections (of books, data, etc.), services and activities (grants, projects, etc.)

The first edition of ISO 2146 was published in 1972, as "Directories of libraries, information and documentation centres"; the second edition was published in 1988. The third edition was initially driven by the need to support interlibrary loan services online, but it has been broadened in scope to encompass the rules for registries operating in a network environment to provide the information about collections, parties, activities and services needed by libraries and related organizations to manage their collections and deliver information and documentation services across a range of applications and domains.

The third edition reached publication stage in March 2010.


Ill or ill may refer to:

Ill (France), a river in Alsace

Ill (Vorarlberg), a river in Voralberg, Austria, tributary of the Rhine

Ill (Saarland), a river of Saarland, Germany, tributary of the Theel

Illinois (traditionally abbreviated: Ill.), a state in the midwestern region of the United States

Illness, a generally-used synonym for disease

Koji Nakamura (recording under the name iLL), a Japanese musician

Tommy Ill, Wellington in New Zealand based rapper

Interlibrary loan

Intramuros Consortium

The Intramuros Consortium, established in 2002, is a non-profit, academic cooperation consisting of four prominent institutions of higher education located in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. The colleges' libraries participate in an interlibrary loan program, allowing students, staff, and faculty to take advantage of all four campuses' collections. In addition, several academic projects and research programs are run by the Consortium jointly for the benefit of all four institutions.

Library consortium

A library consortium is a group of libraries who partner to coordinate activities, share resources, and combine expertise. The International Coalition of Library Consortia is an informal discussion group of such consortia. Library consortia offer significant advantages to increasingly strapped libraries. The sharing of resources, and collaboration on shared goals often enable libraries to deliver higher quality services than they would be able to deliver on their own.Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a system that allows for libraries to borrow and share materials across a wide variety of topics as well as vast geographic locations. It is the most common use of cooperation between libraries as well as within specific consortia. Consortia can grow into something that covers much larger ground than a simple inter-library loan agreement. Many consortia within the United States have ventured further and developed collaborative integrated library systems, or ILS. Examples of these integrated systems include OhioLINK, comprising 88 academic libraries in Ohio; TexShare; Northern Lights Library Network of Minnesota, which incorporates over 300 libraries within the state; Orbis Cascade Alliance in the Northwestern United States; The Alberta Library in Alberta, the MCIT Library Consortium in India; LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network, comprising 49 academic and special libraries in Louisiana; the Abilene Library Consortium in West Texas; PASCAL in South Carolina; and Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing, Inc. (C/W MARS).

There are many benefits for libraries that wish to create or join consortia. Though many have fees for entry, in the end the library finds itself saving a great deal on funding by sharing resources with other members of the consortia. Also, a single library's collection will greatly increase much faster than staying solitary. Additionally, the creation and utilization of inter-library cooperation has the ability to greatly improve communication and relationships across vast fields and can encourage cross-discipline cooperation as well as collaborations.

Library management

Library management is a sub-discipline of institutional management that focuses on specific issues faced by libraries and library management professionals. Library management encompasses normal managerial tasks, as well as intellectual freedom and fundraising responsibilities. Issues faced in library management frequently overlap with those faced in managing non-profit organizations.The basic functions of library management include, but are not limited to: planning and negotiating the acquisition of materials, Interlibrary Loan (ILL) requests, stacks maintenance, overseeing fee collection, event planning, fundraising, and human resources.

Pius XII Memorial Library

The Pius XII Memorial Library is an academic library located on the Saint Louis University Frost Campus. Named after Pope Pius XII and built in 1959, it occupies 215,000 square feet and houses over 1.3 million volumes, including more than 20,000 rare books. It is the home of the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library. During the fall and spring semesters, students use the library 24 hours a day Sunday through Friday.

State Library of North Carolina

The State Library of North Carolina is an institution which serves North Carolina libraries, state government employees, genealogists, and the citizens of North Carolina. The library is the main depository for North Carolina state publications and serves the needs of North Carolina government agencies and state government employees by providing access to information resources that are vital to public decision-making and economic development.

The State Library of North Carolina is a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, an agency that promotes and protects North Carolina’s arts, history, and culture.

The library has two locations, both in the state capital, Raleigh. The main building is located on East Jones Street next to the North Carolina State Legislative Building and near to the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is located on Capital Boulevard.

Union catalog

A union catalog is a combined library catalog describing the collections of a number of libraries. Union catalogs have been created in a range of media, including book format, microform, cards and more recently, networked electronic databases. Print union catalogs are typically arranged by title, author or subject (often employing a controlled vocabulary); electronic versions typically support keyword and Boolean queries.

Union catalogs are useful to librarians, as they assist in locating and requesting materials from other libraries through interlibrary loan service. They also allow researchers to search through collections to which they would not otherwise have access, such as manuscript collections.

The largest union catalog ever printed is the American National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints (NUC), completed in 1981. This achievement has since been superseded by the creation of union catalogs in the form of electronic databases, of which the largest is OCLC's WorldCat. Another example is Copac provided by Research Libraries UK. A third example is AMICUS, provided by Library and Archives Canada.

University of Washington Libraries

The University of Washington Libraries are among the largest academic research libraries in North America and won the 2004 ACRL "Excellence in Academic Libraries Award". They are located in the state of Washington, USA in four cities: Seattle, Tacoma, Bothell, and Friday Harbor.

The University of Washington Libraries have a collection of more than seven million cataloged volumes, six million in microform format, more than 50,000 serial titles, and several million items in other formats. The Libraries' website provides the connection to a wide range of print and electronic resources available in the Libraries and on the World Wide Web.

Services and resources are provided primarily for University of Washington students, faculty, and staff as part of the Libraries' mission to support teaching, learning, research, and service at the University of Washington. Visitors who come to the Libraries are welcome to use most resources and many of the services. Researchers throughout the world have access to a broad range of materials and various interlibrary loan and document delivery services.

The Libraries system is composed of the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries, the primary location for information and services in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences; the Odegaard Undergraduate Library (OUGL) which houses the Odegaard Learning Commons and is open 24 hours weekdays during school days; the Health Sciences Library and Information Center (HSLIC); the East Asia Library; fifteen specialized branch libraries; the Bothell/CCC Library; and the Tacoma Library. The Marian G. Gallagher Law Library and Elisabeth C. Miller Library are administered separately from the UW Libraries system.

VDX (library software)

VDX (standing for Virtual Document eXchange) is a software product for interlibrary loan (ILL) and document request management. VDX was developed by UK company Fretwell-Downing Informatics, a company which in 2005 was taken over by OCLC PICA, itself wholly acquired by OCLC Online Computer Library Center in 2007.VDX allows library staff to create and manage document borrowing and lending requests between participating libraries. VDX manages all the stages of the ILL process. It is also an efficient way to collect copyright fees for copyright holders such as authors and publishers.

Westchester Library System

Westchester Library System (WLS) is the library system for the residents of Westchester County, New York. It was established in 1958. The system has 38 public libraries across the county and its headquarters are located in the town of Greenburgh, near Elmsford.


Z39.50 is an international standard client–server, application layer communications protocol for searching and retrieving information from a database over a TCP/IP computer network. It is covered by ANSI/NISO standard Z39.50, and ISO standard 23950. The standard's maintenance agency is the Library of Congress.

Z39.50 is widely used in library environments, often incorporated into integrated library systems and personal bibliographic reference software. Interlibrary catalogue searches for interlibrary loan are often implemented with Z39.50 queries.

Work on the Z39.50 protocol began in the 1970s, and led to successive versions in 1988, 1992, 1995 and 2003. The Contextual Query Language (formerly called the Common Query Language) is based on Z39.50 semantics.

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