Interlibrary Loan Blog

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ILL User Group Announcement

Join the Massachusetts Library System and Boston Public Library ILL teams to discuss the latest developments in interlibrary loan. We’ll be covering the inner workings of the BPL’s ILLiad site, as well as Clio in the Cloud, including an upcoming enhancement to the Clio request form. There’s also the new MLS ILL Policy to discuss, recently approved by the Board. And we’re recruiting members for an exciting new task force, dedicated to exploring innovative ways of increasing resource sharing in the Commonwealth. Bring us your questions and concerns, and take this opportunity to meet with ILL staff from other Massachusetts libraries. We hope to see you soon as we travel across the state!

Click here to register for stop nearest you!

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Awsum Solutions for Sticky Situations

[Contributed by MLS team member Jeffrey Wolfson]

Sometimes in ILL, you come across an Awsum book like Joe Awsum’s Beastmode 2 : blood in.

What’s not so Awsum is when there is something sticky that has latched onto it. Here is a solution provided by Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, who occasionally offers workshops on book restoration and preservation.

First, take a piece of tape (Gorilla tape works best) and wrap it in a loop around two of your fingers with the sticky side facing outwards. Then give several quick taps to the sticky surface on the book’s dustjacket with the loop. The adhesive from the tape on your fingers will start to pick up the residue on the book over time. For thicker substances, you may want to consider getting a book repair spatula like this one from University Products, which can also be used in other kinds of conservation work.

So, the next time you find goo, don’t say Awwww… just get Awwwwsum!!

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WorldCat tip – Finding only what you need

WorldCat is a wonderful resource, and I don’t know where we’d be without it in interlibrary loan. Most of the member libraries at the Mass Library System rely on it to search for resources of all kinds, so they can fill in as many fields as possible in their Clio requests.

But we’ve noticed that sometimes confusion arises about the results our members see in WorldCat: often the OCLC number we’re given refers to a record that has little or no holdings, or refers to libraries outside the United States (we can borrow from abroad, by the by, but it involves complicated things like IFLA vouchers, and usually costs well over $40).

One of my coworkers has come up with a good example that illustrates one of the key difficulties in refining WorldCat results to retrieve only what you want. Say you want to see which libraries own only the Stephen Fry editions of the audiobooks of the Harry Potter books (an oft-requested item). You can click on Advanced Search in WorldCat, and fill in the field for title, author, and format. But even after using the facets to the left, and paring results down even more precisely by format (Harry Potter on CD, not audiocassette), WorldCat blithely tells you that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of libraries own this item. “Great!” you think. But wait… They’re actually giving you all the libraries that own all editions of that title. To take your search just one step farther, click on the tiny blue link on the right-hand side that reads “just this edition.” Sadly, usually only libraries in Europe own these particular versions of the beloved series on audiobook.

This is an extreme example – not many libraries in the U.S. have purchased the Stephen Fry audiobooks of Harry Potter – but it is a good idea to refine searches as much as possible, and dig deeper to find exactly what you need. And we appreciate it, too!

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Clio Tip – Renewing ILL items

Does your patron need to keep that book, DVD, musical CD, or audiobook just a bit longer? Not all lenders will allow you to renew, but most of them are very accommodating. And it’s easy to submit a renewal request through Clio. Just go into the relevant record, click on the “Update Options” tab, and then choose “RenewalRequest.” In the edit box called “Renewal Request Date,” please enter the desired new due date (not the current day’s date). Then click on the green Update button, and your renewal request will be sent to WorldShare and thence to the lender.

You should hear back from the lender within a few days, whether your request has been approved or not. If you hear nothing, please email us at

Sometimes you can tell quite easily if a lender offers renewals, although this information is not provided by all libraries. If you go into a record in Clio, then either click on the “More” plus sign (on the right), or click anywhere in the gray area at the top, the famous “hidden flap” is revealed. If you look over to the right, in the box that is revealed, occasionally the lender’s renewal policy is listed. Or you can always visit the lender’s website, and track down their interlibrary loan rules. Or, of course, you can email us at MLS, and ask for help!

If an item has taken an unconscionably long time to reach you, or if it has been mis-shipped, lenders should grant a renewal regardless of their policy. Please contact us in that case, and we can mediate for you with the lender.

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FamilySearch – a boon for genealogists!

Mulling over the types of interlibrary loan requests we receive at MLS, it’s quite clear that the patrons at our member libraries are history buffs and genealogy enthusiasts. We thought we’d take the time in our blog this week to remind you about a great service provided by FamilySearch (by the Church of Latter-Day Saints). FamilySearch has local history centers in nearly twenty locations in Massachusetts, through which patrons can order and receive microfilm records of genealogy materials. There is a nominal fee for services, but all in all the program is quite inexpensive (you need to sign in to get pricing for your area).

Your patron can start with the FamilySearch catalog,which contains many options for searching, including by Place, Surname, Title, Author, Subject, and Keyword. Once the patron pinpoints the desired material, she or he can ask your library to request the microfilm through the online order form. Loans last 90 days, although FamilySearch does offer extended loan periods upon request.

We hope this information is useful for you, and that your patrons will be able to find more about their family trees by using FamilySearch.

Comment and wonderful advice from Jean Williams, Lexington Public Library:

Thanks for writing about FamilySearch microfilm. With the ever-increasing interest in genealogy, more patrons will be wanting to borrow films from the LDS. But your description of borrowing microfilm from FamilySearch is not quite the way it works.

The LDS for a number of years now has been phasing out its local Family History Centers. There used to be one in Cambridge and in Boston; now there is only one in Weston, which has very limited hours. Instead, the LDS has instituted a Library Affiliate program. Any library that has a microfilm reader and a place to hold microfilm can apply to become an affiliated library. The procedure is very simple. We set it up at Cary Library in Lexngton a couple of years ago. I believe the Andover Library and the Chelmsford Library are also Affiliates. What this means is that patrons can order microfilm from FamilySearch for a nominal fee and have it sent, not to the Family History Center, but to the affiliated library of their choice. We at the library have an online check-in system that notifies the patron when their film has arrived. We hold the film for three months, the patron comes in and views the film whenever they like, and then we send back the film in postage-paid mailers to the LDS in Salt Lake City. It’s an easy procedure for us, and makes viewing the film easy for the patron as well–a win-win for both.
And we’re hoping to find the money for a fancy new microfilm reader this year.

If anyone wants to talk more about the FamilySearch system, feel free to call me or e-mail me: Jean Williams, Reference, Cary Library in Lexington, 781-862-6288 ext 84415; I work Tuesdays 12-9pm and Thursdays 9-6pm.


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Audiobooks and more – resources for the visually impaired

Do you have patrons who need audiobooks and other resources because they are visually impaired? Our team at the MLS can help you borrow a great many things, but there are other avenues which your users may wish to explore. These include the Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the Worcester Talking Book Library, and the Perkins School for the Blind, to name just a few.

Your patrons can sign up to use resources at these libraries by sending a certification, usually signed by a doctor or optometrist. Services are free, and items are often delivered straight to the patrons’ homes. These libraries serve the blind, as well as those with impaired vision, physical limitations, and reading disabilities.

Resources available include: audiobooks, large print books, books and magazines in Braille and e-Braille, musical scores in Braille and large print, adaptive and playback equipment, items on cassette, described films on DVD and VHS, museum passes, and described newspapers, job listings, and TV schedules. There are trained librarians available at all these libraries to help patrons, and FAQ are listed on each site.

There are talking book libraries in most states, and many other resources. If we’ve forgotten a key place, or a vital resource, please let us know!

Comment from Jennifer Pickett, Brooks Free Library, Harwich, MA (Thanks, Jennifer – I didn’t know this, and it’s a great help!)

Sorry for this late comment (I just discovered this blog today!) and just wanted to add a few details. It’s important for librarians to know that if they have an MLS that they can sign the application for a patron to sign up for services through Perkins. As an MLS librarian we are allowed to sign the application stating the the patron is having trouble reading large print (or hold a book or has some other disability that makes it hard for them to read a print book) so the patron does not need to be legally blind and they don’t need a note from a doctor.

The digital players and digital cartridges loaded with audiobooks are very popular with our patrons and I encourage libraries to go to the Perkins website or give them a call and get a browsing collection of digital cartridges, a digital player that you can use to demo how it works, and a supply of applications so that they can help their patrons receive services.

Great blog Hansie. Maybe you should do an email blast to all the ILL people to let them know about it.

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