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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Life of a Library Book: Circulation, Part 2

books on the move to another library
Posted by Judy T.

Sometimes an item a patron wants is not owned by any of the libraries whose holdings show up in our online catalog.  What happens then?  We regularly get items from all over the country.  In fact, we typically receive about 500 items per year from libraries all over Illinois and the rest of the country.   We participate in WorldCat Resource Sharing, which is an interlibrary loan system used by libraries around the world.  There are a variety of ways patrons can request an item—by calling us or coming into the Library and talking to a staff member or by requesting the item directly through WorldCat.  To do this, go to our website and click on the “Search with WorldCat” icon toward the bottom of the page.  Search for the item, and if it is not available locally, click on “Request This Item.”  Users will be prompted to provide their name, address, library card number, and phone number or e-mail.  In order for us to process the request, the patron must have an Edwardsville library card. 

The request then goes to a review file.  We process requests in the review file daily as well as any paper request forms that have been submitted.  We can tell what libraries own an item, and we choose five libraries as potential lenders.  We submit our request electronically, and it works its way down the list of libraries.  Each library has up to four days to either send us the item or say no, in which case the request moves to the next library.  Since this timeframe is built into the system and because the items come from further away, we tell patrons to typically allow at least two weeks for the item to arrive.

We do not charge for this service, and other libraries in Illinois don’t typically charge to loan items, although there can be charges for photocopies.  Many out-of-state libraries also loan to us for free, but sometimes there are fees.  In that case, we always check with our patron to see if they are willing to pay the charges before agreeing to the loan. 

Our message to our library patrons is:  Don’t give up if you don’t see the item you want in our catalog.  We have lots of other places to try.  Just ask us!

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