Publisher of Quality Genealogy Materials
Volume 4, Number 15 Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369 September 20, 2012
Author's Notes In this article we discuss the interlibrary loan process. Even in this digital age, we sometimes need to get information on our ancestors from another area and this is a great place to start. Thanks for all the comments from our last article on divorce. Some of the stories we received were quite amusing. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at email@example.com.
James L. Douthat
Interlibrary Loan Process
Does your library have everything that you want and need for your research? If the answer is yes to this question, let me know as I want to use that library. In all likelihood, you have answered no to the question. Even Salt Lake or the National Archives do not have everything necessary for complete research. Most all of us have to depend on getting our information from some other source than our local library. One way to get this information is through the interlibrary loan process.
In the interlibrary loan process, there are a few things to keep in mind as you proceed. First and foremost, not every library will loan everything that you may want. In fact, sometimes even if you go there, you may not see everything you want due to the nature of the material. Keep in mind that some libraries charge a fee for this process while others do not. Most libraries impose some restrictions on their materials that are sent out. Some of them restrict the use of the material to the receiving library, most have time limits placed on them and some limit the number of materials that can be loaned at any one time. Take your time and research out the process involved. It is primarily the State libraries that loan materials that they have on microfilm. You have to keep in mind that no library has everything in their collection on microfilm, which will limit your access on a long distance search.
The real advantage of the interlibrary loan system is that you can access materials that reside at a great distance away and bring it down to your local level. I have talked with many of my readers and patrons who are more or less house bound and cannot travel great distances to view materials they want. Using the interlibrary loan system, you bring the material to your area. This saves you travel expense, time and inconvenience when you find the library closed for repair or the courthouse is not open. Just recently, I drove several hours to work with some materials we did not have locally only to find that the library was closed that day due to a local day of celebration.
Now that you have decided to try the interlibrary loan process, you have to know what you are seeking in the first place. This may cause you to have to contact the lending library to see if the material you need is available for loan. You cannot know what every library has available for loan. Some publish a listing that is made available at a small charge or free. These listings are your life line to that library. The Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Missouri has a free publication of materials to loan. The New York State Library publishes a catalog also. The Virginia State Library has a microfilm listing of their materials. Most of the larger libraries will have this reference microfilm in their holdings.
I have used the Virginia State Library frequently and their limitations are acceptable. You may borrow up to five reels of film at one time with a two week time limit, with a two week extension available on request. The films come to the requesting library and can be used only there in that library. The patron is responsible for the cost of the return postage. Some of the lending libraries require the postage both ways. With gas at about $3.85 per gallon today and the other expenses involved in travel, the postage situation is a bargain.
In our situation, our local library has a system of digitizing microfilm into PDF files. I take a zip drive with me to the library and within a few minutes, I have an exact copy of the materials that I want or need for my research that can be downloaded onto the computer and either printed off in a hard copy or read from the screen. I was working in the Tennessee State Library and Archives this past week and they have a “book” digitizing system that allows you to copy a book and make a PDF or other type files that can be used later. Remember you will need a zip drive with you.
Now to recap this process:1. Know your needs for materials - the time of “fishing” is over. Get down to specifics.
2. Contact the library and/or State Archives where the needed material might be to see if this can be loaned to your local library.
3. Make sure your local library is willing to make the effort on your part. Some will not because they are not sure what is required of them. Help them out here.
4. Honor the limitations imposed by the loaning institution. If the materials have to be returned in two weeks, make sure they are returned on time. If a refund is requested for the postage, be sure to send that with the returns. Remember, treat them fairly and they will continue to treat you fairly.
We hope this possibility opens up a whole new adventure for you to get around, over or even under your brick walls.
Most Requested Books
Monroe County, West Virginia History and Biographies
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