scholarship, and private study that are not available at a user’s home
institution.1 ILL is a research library activity that occurs between two different
institutions. Research and academic libraries place ILL requests on behalf of
faculty, staff, and students for returnable items (e.g. books, audiovisual
materials, microfilm) and non-returnable items (e.g. copies of journal articles,
conference papers), usually to obtain material that is out of scope for the home
collection or to support the specialized research interest of one of their users.
ILL offices supply materials from a variety of countries to other countries.
The requesting process is transparent, and requests are automatically forwarded
to the next possible supplying library in the system when a request cannot be
filled. Much interlibrary lending is of materials that are old, out of print, and
not available online; a broad spectrum of resources are requested.
As discoverability of published material has become easier due to
technological advances, library patrons see more information resources that
they want. This knowledge has created an increased demand for both in-print
and out-of-print books. In addition, more information resources are now
published outside the US, and library patrons do not generally look at the
publisher’s country of origin—they look only at an item that they need. Finally,
OCLC has loaded significantly more foreign library records. As a result, it is far
easier to know who has what and acquire and/or request those materials; thus
the “walls” between countries become permeable.
It is standard ILL practice to look within the home country first and then
search internationally (as other countries come to the US when material is
not available locally). This practice is consistent with the well-considered
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) best
practices, which have a long history dating back to 1954.2
US research libraries
work within this tradition. As we borrow more internationally we build
relationships with libraries in other countries, develop reciprocity, and
supply the materials that they require. If US research libraries are unable to
lend materials to international libraries, it would jeopardize our ability to
borrow resources from other countries that are needed locally and thus
would impair scholarship.
All non-returnables are delivered using a standard suite of options, including
Ariel,3 Relais,4 Odyssey,5 fax, e-mail, courier service, and postal service. Delivery
from library to library is normally electronic, but there are different approaches
for delivery to the patron. Some research libraries deliver paper copies, while
White Paper: International Interlibrary Loan
C O N T I N U E D
JUNE 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC