A Day In The Life Of Your Interlibrary Loan Request

Sherlock holmes pipe hat
By Alterego [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We know how excited you get when you find that perfect book or article when you search the library catalog, but do you know what happens between when you complete the request and when you receive the item? Here’s a behind the scenes peek.

You fill out the request and submit it. Good so far, but maybe you didn’t enter the entire title of the book or article, or you left off the author of the book or the required citation information for an article. The request has no way of knowing whether or not the information is complete if you have entered something, even a comma or question mark, in the required field, so it looks like your request is wending its way through the system, and you will receive it soon. In fact, you check your interlibrary loan (ILLiad) account, and you see the “Awaiting document delivery processing” or “Awaiting copyright clearance.” That’s a good sign, right? Well, there is an important step that has not taken place: the request has not been viewed by a person, and there are no people working on interlibrary loan requests on the weekend.

This is where our intrepid Brandman University Library Assistant, Kerry Ortloff, steps in. Each request is processed by hand, in person by Kerry. She reviews the requests for completeness. If there is missing information, she puts on her Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat and tries to locate the book or article with the data that you submitted, and the game is afoot. This takes time. Often, Kerry can take the pieces that you submitted and fill in the blanks, but sometimes, there is just not enough to go on. After all, as Sherlock Holmes stated in “A Case of Identity,” “The little things are infinitely the most important.” This is why it is so essential to complete the request. Don’t leave anything to chance. When you don’t complete the request, it causes a delay in when you receive the material. With eight week sessions, that delay can be a problem. Let’s help Kerry help you.

Sometimes, even if you have completed the request with every piece of required information, you may receive a cancellation email. Please do not take this as a rejection. We still care about you. When Kerry cancels a request, she explains the reason in the email. Frequently, she has found an alternate way to access the material, and she provides the access in that all-important email. It may be that the article is available in one of the 300+ databases that the Library subscribes to, or the material may be available through Google or Google Scholar. Rarely is there a book or article that we cannot provide access to.

If you do receive a cancellation email, keep in mind that our goal is to connect you with the information that you need to succeed. If Kerry has provided the point of access in her email and you need help getting to it, please contact us. On the off-chance that your request is cancelled because it is something that we just can’t provide access to, please contact Lugene or Wenling, your Brandman librarians. We can help you find other sources.

In the end, our ILLiad system is a wonderful service, and the people behind the scenes are what keep it alive. Elementary.

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