Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ask a Librarian: What Does an Interlibrary Loan Librarian Do?

This one is perhaps a bit easier to answer than the last few, because the job is so specialized and specific. An interlibrary loan librarian . . . gets stuff for you through interlibrary loan. But it's more complicated than that, too. I'll break it down. You go to your library, and you want a book or article that the library doesn't have in its collections. You request it via ILL, and that request goes to the interlibrary loan librarian. He or she process the requests the library makes from other libraries, finding where it's available, contacting that library to arrange for it to be sent to your library, etc. Ideally, you never really see the ILL librarian to thank her. Of course, you might request something that your library actually does have in its collections, in which case you get an email alerting you that your request has been canceled and showing you where you can get the item you requested.

In addition to these duties, an ILL librarian manages the requests from other libraries for materials that library has in its collections. It's a two way street, after all. You can't ask other libraries to send you materials if you turn around and refuse them when they ask you. Then again, in a smaller library like Mantor, the number of requests we send out is far greater than the number we get back, just because our collections are so much smaller than, say, a major research university's.

In any case, that about sums up the duties of an ILL librarian. Any questions? Did I miss anything? Having never been worked in interlibrary loan, there's a good chance of that. Feel free to correct me in the comments!


  1. Interlibrary ConfusedOctober 14, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    So, if I find something in your catalog, but its not at Mantor I fill out an interlibrary loan form? Then what is that request button for? Where do I get one of those forms anyway?

  2. The way Mantor handles ILL is a bit different than the general ILL approach. We have items across the system libraries in URSUS (all of which are requestable), and we have access to MaineCat, which is a network of libraries throughout Maine. Both of those should be tried before you go to ILL. For more info, check out this page: