As a library patron, you may have been faced with this dilemma: You arrive at the library armed with a list of resources you need to expand your knowledge on one of your favorite subjects, only to find out the library doesn’t own the book you want! What do you do? That’s where the librarians in the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department come into play. The ability to obtain books and materials from all over the world is one of the best-hidden gems of the library.
Evolving Through the Years
In 1886 U.L. Rowell, Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley, sought permission to borrow a book from another library, thus creating the Interlibrary Loan program. What started with a simple form to fill out by hand, developed into a complex system of online databases used today to easily share items between libraries worldwide. OCLC, or the Online Computer Library Center, is a database with over 30 million entries of materials held in more than 10,000 libraries, and is the main resource used in Interlibrary Loan requests.
What We Do
Here at Johnson County Library, our Interlibrary Loan Department employs three full-time staff and five part-time staff. We process around 1,700 items monthly to lend to other libraries and borrow around 1,400 items monthly for our own patrons. ILL uses couriers who drive across Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Colorado to deliver materials, as well as the U.S. Postal service. We can attempt to borrow anything from books, to DVD’s to cake pans! Recently the department obtained a plastic model of a human ear from Idaho for a patron!
How it Works
As a resident of Johnson County, you have access to the Interlibrary Loan Service we provide. You are able to have up to 15 requests at a time, and you can manage much of it on the Interlibrary Loan account page through our website. All you need is your library card number and pin. You can access Discovery, which is the worldwide catalog used to place a request for an item. ILL request are available for three weeks with no renewals. If patrons wish to put in another request for the book, ILL staff can try to get the item from another lender.
If we are able to obtain it, the item will be waiting at the branch you select in just a few short weeks. Be sure to keep the white strap wrapped around the item so we know where to send it back. It’s also recommended to have an email address on file for prompt notifications and communication, as well as to obtain requested articles. And don’t worry, if you’re stuck our Librarians are always happy to help!