Part 21 - Inter-Library Loan: A Researcher's Best Friend!
by Lord Thomas the Black



             Just about anyone who reads these articles knows how to do research (if not, see Master Modar’s site: ), and is probably on a first-name basis with their local librarians. Libraries, the internet, and friends’ collections can all be valuable sources of information, but what do you do when these run dry, and you can’t find what you’re looking for? Say, for example, someone recommends a book,  but they don’t have a copy themselves, and further research shows it to be out of print (or prohibitively expensive. Ex: a book on the armories of Churburg, by Oswald Graff Trapp was recently located for around $500.00!), and your local library doesn’t have a copy on hand. Now what?

             Now we turn to the Inter-Library Loan (I.L.L.) system. What is I.L.L., you ask? I.L.L. is a service most libraries provide to their card-holders that allows them to locate a book, a copy of a periodical article, or similar materials anywhere in the country, and have it delivered to their local branch library for your use.

             So how does I.L.L. work, anyway? It’s pretty easy, really. First, find out as much as you can about the publication in question. Title, author, date of publication, ISBN number, etc. If it’s a journal or magazine article, the volume/issue numbers will be needed. Page numbers might help. The more info the better. You’ll need this info for the next step.      

Next is to go to your local library and ask for an I.L.L. Request Form (or just tell the librarian that you need to do an I.L.L., and they’ll help you from there). Fill out the form with all the info you gathered earlier, and hand it back to the librarian. In time (5 days – 1 month), the library will either call you, or send you a card in the mail notifying you that the material has arrived. Be prepared to spend an afternoon at the library’s copy machine, as most of the time they won’t let you take I.L.L. materials home with you. Sometimes, if it’s a photocopy of a magazine/journal article, and there’s no fee for it, they may just mail the copies directly to you. That’s really all there is to it!

             In the unlikely event that a requested item isn’t available through I.L.L., you’ll be notified in 3-5 business days. If this is the case, your librarian may have other leads for you to follow up on (for example, contact info for the publishers or the author).

             When returning an I.L.L. item, some libraries will let you drop it in the book return (depending on the item), however I find it’s always best to hand it directly to a librarian and let them know it’s I.L.L. material.

             A few things to note about I.L.L.:

1.)    Materials such as video or sound recordings, or genealogical charts may be unavailable from I.L.L.

2.)    A lot of I.L.L. materials may be “restricted use”, meaning you can photocopy it all you want for personal use, but you can’t take the item home.

3.)    There’s usually no cost for I.L.L., but there might be a small fee for some old, rare, out-of-print items, or for photocopies of magazine or journal articles.

4.)    You will be notified by phone and/or mail when your order comes in, and the library will only hold I.L.L. material for a short time, so be ready to move on it as soon as possible.

5.)    It can take anywhere from 5 business days to a month to get in the materials, so if there’s a deadline on your project, plan ahead accordingly.

To sum up, Inter-Library Loan can be an invaluable resource for hard-to-find research materials, and is available from most libraries in the U.S. Ask your local librarian for more info; they’ll be glad to help you!            

As always, thanks for joining me for another month of Blackmaille! Any mail-related questions or comments can (and should) be sent to:

                        c/o Tom Beckett
                        13628 Belmead Ave
                        Grandview, MO 64030

Next month: Aspect ratios. 

See you next month!

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Articles: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006  Thomas Becket/Lord Thomas the Black
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