Interlibrary Loan Blog

Please send us your blog entries, comments, ideas, questions, or thoughts by emailing us at Thanks!

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 (see below – thanks, Jean!)


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!

Archives of American Art

You may not know that we can borrow items from the Archives of American Art, which is part of the Smithsonian. Their collection is full of primary sources that relate to the visual arts – diaries, letters, photos, films, A/V recordings, scrapbooks, etc. These items will not appear in WorldCat, so if your patron is looking for a rare item (usually on microfilm) to do with art or artists, this is a good resource to explore. Loans are free, and if the Smithsonian is willing to lend, they send items remarkably quickly. Please note: the website does not always open on Chrome, but we have had more luck with Firefox.

Items we’ve borrowed from the Archives of American Art include:

  • Ross and Dorothy Lake Gregory Moffett papers, circa 1870-1992
  • Otto and Ilse Gerson papers, 1933-1980
  • Stuart Davis papers, 1911-1966
  • Irving K. Manoir photograph and obituaries, 1957-1982
  • Pietro Pezzati papers
  • Jessie Willcox Smith papers, 1901-1931

Refreshing Rhode Island

We thought we’d use this week’s blog post to remind everyone that the interstate Delivery program with Rhode Island is still going strong. It’s been over a year now (goodness, time goes fast!), and our member libraries have borrowed hundreds of items from participating Rhode Island institutions, both public and academic. From Dr. Kildare to The art of jewelry making, Newport mansions to Lost in Woonsocket, we’re grateful for all the resources that came through Delivery from the Ocean State.

Mass libraries have been very generous, too, lending hundreds of books, films, audiobooks and CDs to our neighbor. Discovering your soul signature, The trouble with Texas cowboys, Fang the bat fiend, The snacking dead, Muppets on wheels, How to be a wildflower, and Old dogs, new math – these are just some of the gems Rhode Island libraries found in our holdings.

A quick reminder: you can visit the Rhode Island catalog to take a peek at the plethora of resources now open to our members. And the Rhode Island Delivery Index is a good resource for those three-letter codes that Optima uses on the RI slips. Thank you all for making this new program such a success. Please let us know if you have any questions, and let’s hope the interstate Delivery program will one day be extended to even more states!

Reading as a Community – Book Club ILL

Does your library have a book club? Do you often need to request multiple copies of one resource? OCLC’s WorldShare has recently made it easier for our ILL team to submit such requests (there’s an interesting ALA webinar on the subject here). You only need to send us one request through Clio, specifying in the Notes how many copies you need, and we can do the rest.

Just a few caveats: we probably won’t be able to borrow many copies of very popular or recent books. If you need different formats (audiobook, large print) of the same title, please submit separate requests for each format. And please request book club items well ahead of the club meeting date, as it can take a few tries before we can obtain all the needed copies!

Some recent book club titles we’ve requested include: “The nightingale,” by Kristin Hannah (4 copies); “The hairdresser of Harare,” by Tendai Huchu (7 copies); “Bones and silence,” by Reginald Hill (7 copies); “After you, Marco Polo,” by Jean Bowie Shor (12 copies); and “Immortality,” by Alan Feldman (9 copies).

Please let us know if you have any questions about interlibrary loan requests for your local book clubs. And thanks for reading!

Unfamiliar Faces, Familiar Names – the ILL Regulars

We love helping patrons, but, oddly, we never get to meet them. However, there are so many regular customers whose names have become familiar to us at MLS over the years. This blog post seeks to pay tribute to the faithful who keep coming back. We can’t mention any names, of course, but thought it might be interesting to list a few of their favorites.

There’s the movie buff in Western Mass, who unearths such gems as “Murder in the fleet,” and “I found Stella Parrish.”

And the patron who requests tons of books about cats: “Calico’s country cats,” “Psycho kitties,” “Wisdom of kittens,” and “My cat’s not fat, he’s just big-boned,” to list just a few!

We have one steady customer who seems to be working through every classical CD ever released: string quartets, violin concertos, piano quintets, symphonies, capriccios, sonatas – you name it, this patron has heard it!

And we have to smile every time we get a request from the fitness enthusiast who clamors for such items as “Gray hair and black iron : secrets of successful strength training for older lifters,” “Dinosaur training : lost secrets of strength and development,” and “Power : explosive training for athletic domination.”

One south coast regular is avid for audiobooks, whether on CD or audiocassette. He sometimes stumps us, but we try hard to find such titles as “Brat Farrar,” “A coffin for Dimitrios,” “Rough cider,” and “Journey into fear.”

We’re grateful for patrons such as these, as well as many others we could name. We look forward to seeing their names pop up in the patron field, and muse about their personalities and lives. And we feel just a touch of envy that ILL staff in our member libraries get to meet them in person.